Before telescopes were invented, people gazed at the night sky with amazement and dreamed of a closer look. The invention of the telescope in 1608 gave humans their chance to explore the vastness of the Universe. In fact, most of what we know about the Universe comes from studying the sky with telescopes. Telescopes use lenses and mirrors to gather light and produce images. Galileo was the first to use telescopes for astronomy.

Inventor: Dutch scientist Hans Lippershey
When: 1608
Size of mirror: from a few inches to over 30 feet across
Types: refracting, reflecting, radio, X-ray, microwave, ultraviolet, gamma ray
Significance: telescopes allow humans to observe objects and events throughout the Universe

Image credits: courtesy of AMNH.