Episode23:Telescopes before Galileo? Part 1

Hans Lipperhey’s patent application in the Netherlands for a telescope was formally denied on 2nd October 1608. Nonetheless, it is that individual, that place and that date which history associates with the invention of the telescope. Most of us are aware of the fundamental astronomical discoveries Galileo went on to make with it in the following year but could they have been made earlier?

Three thousand years ago, in what today is  Iraq , the  Nimrud lens now in the British Museum is clearly recognised as a lens. It probably could not have been used as part of an astronomical telescope but it is evidence that strongly indicates that lenses were in use long before Lipperhey and Galileo. The Pharos lighthouse in Alexandria is another illlustration of the advance understanding of optics in ancient times.

Chris Lord is an accomplished amateur astronomer and member of Blackpool & District Astronomical Society. He has recently completed a major piece of research in telescopes and optics to mark the International Year of Astronomy in 2009.

In this Episode, Chris talks about at the theory of vision, optics and the making and use of lenses during the almost two centuries from Euclid to Galileo.


  1. Hi Gurbir,

    There doesn’t appear to be a link to allow this episide to be downloaded.

    Best regards