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400 Years of Astronomical Telescopes:
A Review of History, Science and Technology

29 September - 2 October 2008

Noordwijk, The Netherlands


The meeting will celebrate the 400th anniversary of Hans Lipperhey’s patent application on 25 September 1608 for the “spy glasses”, the optical system that became the basis for optical astronomical telescopes. The meeting will cover the history of the telescope making and usage, key technologies, and political as well as sociological aspects.

The program covers all types of telescopes across (and even beyond) the entire electromagnetic spectrum. The 3.5 day program consists exclusively of review talks given by invited speakers who have been working in or even shaped the field.

Participants are invited to present a poster, for which an abstract can be submitted.


The target audience is as wide as the topic of this conference, and includes astronomers who want to broaden their knowledge of telescopes, people interested in the evolution of this significant part of modern sciences, technically interested historians, amateur astronomers, and the interested public. The number of participants is limited and early registration is recommended.


History of optical telescopes
(the early inventions, Galilei, Newton, Herschel, Lord Rosse, 19th century refractors, the large ground-based facilities, and the history of optical instruments)
History of non-optical telescopes
(the history of radio, infrared, X-ray, Gamma-ray and imaging TeV telescopes as well as telescopes for solar and neutrino astronomy)
Miscellaneous topics
(the history of astronomical discoveries, amateur telescopes, the historical driver to do astrometry, and the most famous example of the Hubble Space Telescope)
Telescope technologies
(mirror casting and polishing, active optics, telescope mounts and domes, adaptive optics and interferometry, and the technologies of radio, sub-mm, X-ray and Gamma-ray telescopes)
Political and Sociological aspects
(a scientometric look at astronomy, the development of the Europe’s main ground-based observatory, the challenge of managing big astronomical projects, NASA’s four great observatories, sacred mountains, climate change, light pollution and astronomy in 3rd world countries)
The Future
(future telescope and instrument technologies, visions for new telescopes, challenges and perspectives for future generations of astronomers)