Hans Lippershey


Hans Lippershey was born in Wesel (western Germany) around the year 1570. Little is known about his early life, but he eventually moved to Middelburg, the capital of Zeeland, the south westernmost province of the Netherlands. There he married in 1594 and became a citizen of the Netherlands in 1602. Middelburg was a growing city and there he practiced his craft as a spectacle-maker. Hans Lippershey was probably not the first person to experiment with combining lenses to create crude telescopes and binoculars. In fact, there is an apocryphal tale that says Lippershey's children actually invented the first telescope while playing with flawed lenses in his workshop. There is no record of this, however. While others later claimed to have invented the device, it was Lippershey who applied to the government of the Netherlands for a patent in 1608. Eventually, the patent was denied. The government thought that the device could not be kept a secret. However, Hans Lippershey constructed several binocular telescopes for the Netherlands government and was well compensated. In 1609, Italian scientist Galileo Galilie learned of Lippershey's device and began constructing his own, eventually increasing the magnification to a factor of 20. With this wondrous new instrument, he was able to spot mountains and craters on the moon, discover that the Milky Way was composed of stars, and discover the four largest moons of Jupiter. Hans Lippershey died in Netherlands in 1619.