It seems mother earth has never been quite enough for mankind. Ever since the dawn of time, we have looked up at the skies wondering what lies beyond – and inventing machinery so we can take a closer look. The first telescope was unveiled in the Netherlands in 1608, made by Jacob Metius and Hans Lippershey. It was made famous, however, by Italian mathematician Galileo, who constructed his own, improved device and was the first to use it to explore space. With his telescope he discovered four satellites of Jupiter, and resolved nebular patches into stars.
Early telescopes such as Galileo’s consisted of glass lenses mounted in a tube. Isaac Newton (1642–1727) designed a telescope which used mirrors, known as a reflector telescope. This improved telescope was presented to the Royal Society, causing much excitement (right). On the left is an engraving with hand color from the same era (1660) by Andreas Cellarius entitled “ Situs Terre Circulis Coelestibus Circundate”. The image depicts the location of the Earth with reference to the Celestial circles. Available through Arader Galleries.
In 1842, the Irish nobleman the 3rd Earl of Rosse built an enormous telescope with a mirror 6ft in diameter. The telescope was placed in a pit near his home, Birr Castle, and consisted of a giant tube, at the bottom of which was a large metal mirror. Despite its restricted range, some remarkable discoveries were made using this telescope, such as the first spiral nebulae.
This large brass refractor telescope dates from the same era, and was made by renowned scientific instrument maker in Paris, Marc Francois Louis Secretan (Swiss, 1804-1867). It is inscribed “Secretan A Paris” on the ocular collar, and engraved “Presented by Louis J. Boury ‘79”on the main tube. Available through Roberto Freitas.
On the right is a Georgian celestial globe by J. & W. Cary of London, circa 1800. Available through Yew Tree House.
In the 1970s work began on a telescope that was to become the Hubble Space telescope (left), named after American astrologist Edwin Hubble. On 25 April 1990 it was deployed to its position beyond the earth’s atmosphere where it now orbits the planet. From this position it is able to give a view of the universe free from distortion. Its use has led to many significant discoveries, such as the age of the universe, the identity of quasars and the existence of dark energy.
On the right is the piece “Eve II”, 1982, by Jack Roth (American, 1927-2004).
Acrylic on canvas. Signed, titled and dated. Available via Guy Regal.
In 1996 plans are born for the next generation space telescope – Hubble’s successor. Named after former Nasa administrator, James Webb, it’s a large infrared-optimized space telescope, set to be launched in 2021, which will reside in an orbit around 1 million miles away from earth.
On the right is the piece “Untitled (Disc)”, 1971, by John Stephan (American, 1905-1995).
Acrylic on canvas. Signed, dated ’71 and estate stamped verso. Available via Guy Regal.