×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Online Database Allows Scientists To Recreate Early Telescopes

samzenpus posted about 2 months ago | from the back-in-the-day dept.

Space 52

sciencehabit writes "When Galileo Galilei shook up the scientific community with evidence of a heliocentric world, he had a little tube fitted with two pieces of glass to thank. But just how this gadget evolved in the nascent days of astronomy is poorly known. That uncertainty has inspired a group of researchers to compile the most extensive database of early refracting telescopes to date. Now, the scientists plan to use modern optics to recreate what Galileo — and the naysaying observers of his time — experienced when they first peered through these tubes at the rings of Saturn, the moons of Jupiter, and the phases of Venus."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

52 comments

Disappointed (4, Informative)

Chrisq (894406) | about 2 months ago | (#46265397)

Disappointed that there were no pictures of the type "this is what Galileo saw .. and this is what Newton saw ... and this is with a reasonably priced modern telescope ... and this is from an observatory".

That would have put things in perspective

Re:Disappointed (2)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | about 2 months ago | (#46265417)

Why make it so complicated? Why not take the telescope out of the museum, and point it at Jupiter, and directly see what it shows you?

Re:Disappointed (3, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 months ago | (#46265495)

I suspect that you'd have to punch a curator and run to take some of those pieces outside...

Re:Disappointed (2)

Chrisq (894406) | about 2 months ago | (#46265531)

I suspect that you'd have to punch a curator and run to take some of those pieces outside...

And travel to Florence to do it.

And travel to Florence to do it. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46266291)

Padova, not Florence
Galileo moved thee in 1592 and he stole Hans Lippershey telescope in 1608.
The Galilean moons where discovered in 1610 with a telescope that had a magnification that was roughly 30x (from the original 3x of Lippershey design)

Re:And travel to Florence to do it. (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 2 months ago | (#46267175)

Padova, not Florence Galileo moved thee in 1592 and he stole Hans Lippershey telescope in 1608. The Galilean moons where discovered in 1610 with a telescope that had a magnification that was roughly 30x (from the original 3x of Lippershey design)

The telescope is now in the Museo di Fisica e Storia Naturale [sciencemuseum.org.uk], in Florence

Re:Disappointed (1)

codeButcher (223668) | about 2 months ago | (#46265761)

I suspect that you'd have to punch a curator and run to take some of those pieces outside...

I thought curators also go home at night... The possibilities!

Re:Disappointed (1)

czert (3156611) | about 2 months ago | (#46265559)

Why not take the telescope out of the museum (...) ?

That could prove to be even more complicated.

Oh yes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46265757)

Because you just know that these telescopes were used for looking at bodies during the daylight too!

Re:Disappointed (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46265775)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ESW_NTIhBM

Dr. Martin Poliakoff of the Royal Society shows Newton's telescope. One of the best youtube channels, this "Periodic Videos". In fact, all of Brady Haran's channels (Periodic Videos, Sixty Symbols, Deep Sky Videos, Numberphile, etc) are really worth a look.

Re:Disappointed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46266893)

All of my this. These channels are great.

Re:Disappointed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46267057)

There was a show on PBS where the narrator made a telescope using the methods Galileo probably used...

Buy a Galileo Scope (5, Informative)

Platinumrat (1166135) | about 2 months ago | (#46265461)

You can buy a really cheap, and good quality "Galileo Scope" http://galileoscope.org/ [galileoscope.org]. It's a great starter / educational scope and the optics can be swapped out to see what Galileo saw and for more modern lenses.

Re:Buy a Galileo Scope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46265513)

No you can't. 25$ scope cannot be good. It's impossible to make a good scope at that price tag. Even $1000 is considered low end. Even a low end eyepiece cost more than $25. Please don't buy toy telescopes for your children unless you want to disgust them from astronomy. They'll never see anything in them.

Re:Buy a Galileo Scope (3, Insightful)

Bronster (13157) | about 2 months ago | (#46265567)

Yeah, but it's probably about the same quality as what Galileo had, which might be kinda the point...

Re:Buy a Galileo Scope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46265569)

Orion Dobsonian will kick the shit out of any $1000-$3000 refactor telescope sold. the cheapie 6" will split the rings of saturn. And it is significantly less than $1000.

Re:Buy a Galileo Scope (5, Interesting)

ledow (319597) | about 2 months ago | (#46265743)

Elitest git.

Sorry, but don't talk rubbish. A £100 (so $200 at best) Celestron reflector will show your kids Jupiter, Saturn, individual craters on Mars, come with tripod, EQ mount and a range of eyepieces. An extra $50 or so and you can get a kit of cheap eyepieces and a barlow in a nice Celestron-branded kit.

You'll see rings on Saturn quite clearly, you'll see the stripes in the atmosphere of Jupiter. I know, I've done it. And inside London, from my backyard (with streetlights and near major roads and cities, and with houses around, in front of and behind me). Damn, I can't even see the Milky Way or more than the Plough on even the clearest night with the naked eye but a simple 75mm reflector with cheap eyepieces will perform wonders.

Scale down and even the cheapest scope will get a kid interested if it's done right. Hell, I had a crowd of adults around my telescope when I dug it out at my last dinner party and we only aimed it at the Moon (and people were going back for second, third, fourth goes at it with other eyepieces).

I hate people who think you have to spend thousands of dollars on ANYTHING in order to enjoy it as an amateur. If anything, people like YOU put off amateurs more than a cheap Galileo-themed telescope that won't quite pick out individual aliens on extra-solar worlds.

Re:Buy a Galileo Scope (3, Informative)

ledow (319597) | about 2 months ago | (#46265749)

Mars should read "Moon"... I edited the sentence in Preview and it got messed up.

Re:Buy a Galileo Scope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46266081)

The telescope advocated here is a $25 telescope. Half the cost you quote for a set of eyepieces. I got a department store toy telescope as a kid and you could see nothing with it, not even the craters on the moon. You couldn't even focus it: the one eyepiece was a single lens (and I suspect it wasn't even a lens), and focus was done by turning the lens which could move 5 mm along the telescope axis. Stars appeared as a red glow. You couldn't change the eypieces. And it was advocated as one of thos 400 magnification which is meaningless. I can assure you this piece of crap did nothing to get me interested.

But you're right, my set of prices was quite outdated. And I should have been clearer about only considering refractors. Those dobsonian sure got cheap. Still, the best advice for amateurs and kids is "get a good pair of binoculars". And $1000 is hardly elitist. Apochromatic refractors are much more expensive and I would never buy one. I'm not even sure why one would bother since relectors are so much cheaper. My 90mm refractor cost me $800 14 years ago. And with it I can see those blue stripes on Jupiter.

As for the crowd of adults, I only get complaints about not having the resolution Voyager had when looking at Saturn. You're quite fortunate.

Re:Buy a Galileo Scope (1)

yesterdaystomorrow (1766850) | about 2 months ago | (#46266743)

Elitest git.

Sorry, but don't talk rubbish. A £100 (so $200 at best) Celestron reflector will show your kids Jupiter, Saturn, individual craters on Mars, come with tripod, EQ mount and a range of eyepieces. An extra $50 or so and you can get a kit of cheap eyepieces and a barlow in a nice Celestron-branded kit.

Yep. The Edmund Astroscan is a popular telescope for professional astronomers to keep around for when they just want to enjoy a view of the sky, or share it with friends. Not very expensive, but a lot of fun.

Re:Buy a Galileo Scope (1)

Platinumrat (1166135) | about 2 months ago | (#46274253)

I have a $5000 rig (120mm ED refractor and EQ5-Synscan system) + another 150mm Dobsonian. The Galileo Scope is recommended by professional Astronomers and Science educators as a good quality starter telescope. Bang-for-buck it's a great buy. You get to see the same crappy optics Galileo used + some decent modern optics. You can pull it apart and put it back together. What more do you want.

I can't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46265777)

I'm afraid I can't use the "Galileo Scope" or even own one: I'm Catholic.

Scientific community knew (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46265549)

Scientific community of Galileo time knew that world is heliocentric. Religion community didn't.

Why do we have to use modern? (4, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 months ago | (#46265563)

I can build a crude telescope in my garage using the EXACT techniques he used. It's not hard.

http://galileo.rice.edu/lib/st... [rice.edu]

And then just half ass the optics by only looking through them as you grind. dont use modern collimation techniques and you will get the nasty blurry full of chromatic nasty that he had to deal with.

The other problem is that pollution and light pollution is 9000% higher than what he had.

Re:Why do we have to use modern? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46265711)

Actually you probably can't. You can spend months grinding the glass into lenses on a cannonball just like him sure, but you'll be unable to get glass of the same quality he used. Whatever you end up with will be better than what he had, simply because modern glass is better quality.

Re:Why do we have to use modern? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46265927)

Fine, make your own glass then. It's not difficult.

Re:Why do we have to use modern? (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 2 months ago | (#46267307)

I can build a crude telescope in my garage using the EXACT techniques he used. It's not hard.

You can build a telescope LIKE one he used but it isn't going to be the same which is the point. Galileo's telescope is lost and the exact specifications are not known. At the time, his optics were at the cutting edge and the lenses he used were likely hand-made and unique. They were also likely to be imperfect.

This exercise is exactly the same as a computer geek trying to recreate an Apple I if none of them had survived. Yes you can build a newer computer that fits in your hand and much more powerful with fewer limitations. But that's not the point.

Lumpy how'd "eating your words" taste? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46283427)

ROTFLMAO @ "Chumpy" -> http://yro.slashdot.org/commen... [slashdot.org]

(You sure "talk a good game" -> http://games.slashdot.org/comm... [slashdot.org] but you can't even produce a MERE SCRIPT!, windbag... you couldn't build shit, loser!)

You aren't even on the leve of a "script kiddie", & full of HOT AIR!

You certainly won't reply there in that 2nd link I posted either, as that would remove your downmods to my posts like this one you can't validly disprove or justify your downmod on -> http://games.slashdot.org/comm... [slashdot.org]

Oh, I suspect that IS the case here (simply logging out of a registered account & trolling by ac is a common troll trick around here OR using alternate registered 'luser' accounts sockpuppets to do the job will also, & Lumpy is LOADED with those & trolling - which doesn't matter: He PROVES he's all talk, no action (or skills, OR brains, lol))

(You're all TALK, & NO action "CHUMPY!)

* :)

(You know it, I know it, & so does anyone reading AND laughing their asses off @ you now... lol!)

APK

P.S.=> Answer the question in the subject-line Lumpy - since you had to "eat your wrods" in the 1st link above flavored with your FOOT IN YOUR MOUTH + the "bitter taste of SELF-defeat", lol...

... apk

And next week ... (1)

jamesl (106902) | about 2 months ago | (#46265581)

... we'll have news that they have been 3D printed by a kindergarten class in St. Louis.

At least early astronomers didn't have to deal ... (2)

Ihlosi (895663) | about 2 months ago | (#46265609)

... with light pollution.

Re:At least early astronomers didn't have to deal (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 months ago | (#46265763)

... with light pollution.

Given the available light sources, they probably used the term to complain about the servant holding the torch getting soot on their lenses.

Telescopes (2)

ledow (319597) | about 2 months ago | (#46265701)

I would find this interesting.

As someone who's just got into telescopes themselves after years of my brother casually using a telescope worth more than my car (he's an astrophysicist, though, so that's his game) I was bought a relatively cheap amateur one.

I was quite surprised, in modern times, to be able to see Jupiter's clouds and Saturn rings quite clearly within only a few hours of learning how to use the damn thing and picking targets by eye (none of this Go-To crap), in my backyard, in the crowded suburbs of London, with streetlights only a few meters away, on a pseudo-clear night. And I didn't have RA motors or even proper polar alignment, I was literally just chasing the brightest dots around the sky manually to look at them.

I know astronomy was "easier" for the ancients and for Galileo-era astronomers without such hurdles, but I had always assumed that they pretty much were cancelled out by the poor quality of the optics back then. But I was quite amazed to be able to clearly see, with a £100 scope and the default eyepieces, such detail wobbling in front of me because of the heat of the atmosphere near me.

And even photographing them was much easier than I was led to believe (though I really need to polar-align and get my brand-new RA motor set up so I can do longer exposures).

Honestly, I thought it would be so much harder, hearing for years from well-known astronomers like Sir Patrick Moore, etc. how much the cities destroyed the night sky. I'm sure they do. I'm sure that I *should* be able to see the Milky Way unaided. But, damn, a tiny £100 Newtonian with its supplied cheap mount and eyepieces can do wonders.

I'm not claiming some great feat of astronomy, I'm sure this hasn't really been a shock to anyone who was interested in amateur astronomy before me. But I'm also sure Galileo saw quite clearly a lot of things that were always visible and easy to record, just maybe not always surface detail and rings (which I'm sure he would have thought were there, even if it was just on the edge of his brain supplying that brief glimpse of the whole object through his imperfect lenses and low magnification scope against the shimmering atmosphere and movement of his equipment).

I have a page on my website (warning: long and boring) where I show my first-ever (and worst) images taken through my scope. Sure, it's a 70mm aperture, but I can't imagine that Galileo was seeing that much worse, but maybe distorted and more "lucky" good shots as it went into the smooth parts of his optics.

He might have had to spend years with craftsmen and glass-blowing skills, honing his devices, but I'm pretty sure he would have been able to see almost as much as anyone can - even modern city-dwellers - with just a cheap scope.

Re:Telescopes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46266415)

Gallileo probably didn't use glass blowing to produce the optics, but grinding. Since he didn't take photos, but instead kept staring at his targets for entire nights, and then drew what he believed he saw, he was indeed at an advantage concerning the seeing and localized flaws in his scope.

Re:Telescopes (1)

ledow (319597) | about 2 months ago | (#46266723)

Precisely.

And, let's face it, he probably had a lot of time to sit and do not much else.

A new amateur astronomer nowadays would probably get bored around the hour mark.

Like they say about the constellations and the ancients' observations of the stars - there probably wasn't much else to do at night and the sky is quite pretty and interesting.

Last Post (1)

Covalent (1001277) | about 2 months ago | (#46265747)

Sorry, Dice...you lost a loyal reader.

soylentnews.org [soylentnews.org]

Oh, and for the last time: BUCK FETA.

Re:Last Post (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46265821)

I even tried going to http://fuckbeta.slashdot.org and even that redirected me to beta. It's like a disease.

Re:Last Post (1)

Bucc5062 (856482) | about 2 months ago | (#46267051)

Finally, a three digit ID. Strange to be starting back at zero karma. My only beef, the red. Its rather jarring to the eyes. I know they could not sue /. color scheme, but even a IBM blue would be less alerting to the eyes. Still, I think I'm going to fade over to the new neighborhood more and more and keeping saying to myself, change is good.

Re:Last Post (1)

cellocgw (617879) | about 2 months ago | (#46268569)

Well, take it for the humor or the horror, but /. is OK per the local Corporate IT Overlords, but soylentnews.org gets "This Websense category is filtered: Suspicious Content. Sites in this category may pose a security threat to network resources or private information, and are blocked by your organization."

Websense: when it comes to the first syllable, it has none of the second.

Some didn't look through them... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46265779)

"...and the naysaying observers of his time — experienced when they first peered through these tubes..."

Some of the naysayer's didn't look through them at the heavens. Today, some slashdotter's take it for granted that first hand evidence, the "show me" stuff, is good stuff. Back in those days, and for a lot of people today lacking modern sophistication, belief, a priori knowledge, doctrine, etc., was the source of truth, facts, descriptions of reality and so forth. So, when Galileo urged people to look through the telescope, the response was often a decline, sometimes a scathing decline.

Further reading: Galileo's Daughter, a nice history of Galileo's life, as seen through letter's from one of his daughter's that still survive.

Re:Some didn't look through them... (1)

cusco (717999) | about 2 months ago | (#46268373)

It wasn't only in astronomy, medicine didn't really become a science until Pasteur and a few others dragged it into the modern age. The anatomical drawings of Galen and others of his time were still being used at the time of the American Revolutionary War, and differences between the drawings and what was actually observed were considered to be a problem with the cadaver (really) rather than possibly an error in the original documentation or the copying process.

This project might help us understand the Church (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 2 months ago | (#46265827)

We say telescope and imagine the stunning photographs made by 20th century telescopes, or even space telescopes and laugh at the ignorami of the Church who refused to see the evidence for Heliocentric theory. But back in the days of Galileo the images had severe spherical aberration, chromatic fringing and other artifacts. Even when they point to terrestrial objects the image is upside down. Many people had serious doubts about whether what they see through the telescope was real or it is some kind of illusion created by the devil. They did not even have a clear idea of how vision worked. They had some weird notion that eyes emit some kind of rays that allow you to perceive objects, but could not explain why the "rays" from our eyes do not work without ambient light. Remember they actually and really believed in trans-substantiation, they really really thought the bread and wine given in the communion actually becomes the blood and flesh of the Christ. There were serious arguments about whether or not the Christ and the Holy Ghost were made of the same material but different form, or different material or whether or not it is right to even call what they are made of as material.

Of course the real trouble for Galileo was probably some kind of personal feud with the Pope, some sidekicks of the Pope exaggerating the "insults" hurled by Galileo towards the Pope, etc. But the Church then was not really plugging its ears with fingers shouting "la-la-la I don't hear nothing" like the present day Creationists are doing when evolution is taught in biology classes.

Early Telescopes: rivalry and mysticism (1)

handy_vandal (606174) | about 2 months ago | (#46265845)

Galileo and other early inventors were bitter rivals for the secrets of optics. Lots of deception, aggrandizement, hard feelings and litigation.

Ancient tales of magical mirrors play a part in the tale of telescopy. We have numerous accounts of, say, a man atop the highest tower in Alexandria, who, with the aid of a magical glass, can see all that happens in London. These tall tales go on and on -- magical mirrors and lenses which see distant sights, peers around corners, see through walls ... mostly far-fetched, yet meaningful in an age of discovery.

I read a book on the topic -- the title escapes me, sorry -- thin, scholarly study. Good stuff, recommended.

light matre's day we've seen enough already (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46265875)

everything we need & more is within our reach here now, no gadgets required. momkind is the undisputed centerpeace of our universe just like always. no wonder the externally based WMD on credit MANic viagrants must continually attempt to complicate everything...

Can't really re-create the view (1)

CharlieG (34950) | about 2 months ago | (#46266113)

Can't really redo the view, the early observing sites are all in heavily light polluted areas

Re:Can't really re-create the view part 2 (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 2 months ago | (#46266375)

Can't really redo the view, the early observing sites are all in heavily light polluted areas

Also, using modern optics are probably not going to give the same view as the technology of the time produced, even if there wasn't the light pollution. Even in modern telescopes, for any given aperture, it is the quality of the lens and/or mirrors that dictate the view.

If poorly known... (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 2 months ago | (#46266359)

But just how this gadget evolved in the nascent days of astronomy is poorly known. That uncertainty has inspired a group of researchers to compile the most extensive database of early refracting telescopes to date.

If poorly known, then with what did they create the database from? It would appear that the information was already known and available and they digitized it into a database.

Modern optics sort of defeats the purpose (1)

davidwr (791652) | about 2 months ago | (#46266611)

We need to use optics that closely approximates the technology of the time. If we still have the ability to create the glass that Galileo created then we won't even need to approximate it, we'll have the real thing.

If that happens to be "modern" optics, that's fine, but insisting on using modern glass-production techniques is unnecessary.

Just Silly... The shift on the Bortle Scale (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46267375)

ensures that we can never see what they saw.

Given the heading.... (1)

3seas (184403) | about 2 months ago | (#46267829)

... are our scientist devolving in knowledge that they would have to ask the AI of the internet?

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...