List of largest optical telescopes historically

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Telescope performance has progressed in many ways since their invention in 1608. The following tables list those steps in performance.

Table of largest optical telescopes historically by overall aperture[edit]

The following is a list of largest single mount optical telescopes sorted by total objective diameter (aperture) including segmented and multi-mirror configurations. It is a historical list with the instruments listed in chronological succession by objective size. Diameter of the primary optics alone can be poor measure of a telescope's historical or scientific significance; for example, William Parsons, 3rd Earl of Rosse's 72-inch (1.8 m) reflecting telescope did not perform as well (i.e. gather as much light) as the smaller silvered glass mirror telescopes that succeeded it because of the poor performance of its speculum metal mirror.

Name Aperture Type Built by Location Year
Meter Inch
Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC) 10.4 m 409″ Reflector - Segmented,36 Spain(90%), Mexico, USA ORM, Canary Islands, Spain 2009
Keck 1 10 m 394″ Reflector - Segmented,36 USA Mauna Kea Observatory, Hawaii 1993
BTA-6 6 m 238″ Reflector Soviet Union Zelenchukskaya, Caucasus 1976
Hale Telescope (200 inch) 5.08 m 200″ Reflector USA Palomar Observatory, California 1948
Hooker 100-Inch Telescope 2.54 m 100″ Reflector USA Mt. Wilson Observatory; California 1917
Leviathan of Parsonstown 1.83 m 72″ Reflector - metal mirror William Parsons Birr Castle; Ireland 1845
Herschel 40-foot (126 cm d.)[1] 1.26 m 49.5″ Reflector - metal mirror William Herschel Observatory House; England 1789–1815
Rev John Michell's Gregorian reflector[2] 75 cm 29.5″ Reflector - Gregorian John Michell Yorkshire, Great Britain 1780–1789
Father Noel's Gregorian reflector[2] 60 cm 23.5″ Reflector - Gregorian Father Noel Paris, France 1761
James Short's Gregorian reflector 50 cm 19.5" Reflector - Gregorian James Short Scotland 1750
James Short's Gregorian reflector 38 cm 14″ Reflector - Gregorian James Short Scotland 1734
Christiaan Huygens 210 foot refractor 22 cm 8.5" Refractor - Aerial telescope Christiaan Huygens Netherlands 1686
Christiaan Huygens 170 foot refractor 20 cm 8" Refractor - Aerial telescope Christiaan Huygens Netherlands 1686
Christiaan Huygens 210 foot refractor 19 cm 7.5" Refractor - Aerial telescope Christiaan Huygens Netherlands 1686
Hooke's reflector[3] 18 cm 7″ Reflector Robert Hooke Great Britain 16??
Hevelius refractor 12 cm 4.7″ Refractor Johannes Hevelius Gdańsk, Poland 1645
Hevelius Scheiner's helioscope 6 cm 2.3″ Refractor Johannes Hevelius Gdańsk, Poland 1638
Galileo's 1620 telescope 3.8 cm[4] 1.5″ Refractor Galileo Galilei Italy 1638
Galileo's 1612 telescope 2.6 cm[4] 1″ Refractor Galileo Galilei Italy 1612
Galileo's 1609 telescope 1.5 cm[4] .62″ Refractor Galileo Galilei Italy 1609
Hans Lippershey's telescope  ? cm .?″ Refractor Hans Lippershey Middelburg, the Netherlands 1608

Table of optical telescope progression historically[edit]

Chronological list of optical telescopes by historical significance, not overall size.

Name Aperture Type Significance Location Year
Meter Inch
Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC) 10.4 m 409″ Reflector - Segmented,36 Worlds largest 2009 ORM, Canary Islands, Spain 2009
Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) 8.4 m x 2
(22.8 m LBTI)[5]
464.5″ glass mirror reflector - Multi-mirror (2) Worlds largest 2008 with Beam Combiner Mount Graham International Observatory, Arizona
Hobby-Eberly Telescope 9.2 m 362″ Reflector - Segmented,91 First HET McDonald Observatory, USA 1997
Keck 1 10 m 394″ Reflector - Segmented,36 Worlds largest 1993 Mauna Kea Observatory, Hawaii 1993
Hubble (HST) 2.4 m 94″ glass mirror reflector Largest Visible-light space based telescope Low Earth orbit NASA+ESA 1990
BTA-6 6 m 238″ glass mirror reflector Worlds largest 1976 Zelenchukskaya, Caucasus 1976
McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope 1.61 m 63″ glass mirror reflector Largest solar telescope Kitt Peak National Obs., USA 1962
Hale Telescope (200 inch) 5.08 m 200″ glass mirror reflector Worlds largest 1948 Palomar Observatory, California 1948
Samuel Oschin telescope 1.22 m 48″ glass mirror reflector - Schmidt camera Worlds largest Schmidt camera 1948 Palomar Observatory; California 1948
George Ritchey 40-inch (1 m)[6] 102 cm 40″ glass mirror reflector First large Ritchey-Chrétien Flagstaff, Arizona (Washington, D.C. until 1955) 1934
Plaskett telescope[7] 1.83 m 72″ glass mirror reflector designed as worlds largest but beaten by Hooker 100-Inch Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, Canada 1918
Hooker 100-Inch Telescope 2.54 m 100″ glass mirror reflector Worlds largest 1917 Mt. Wilson Observatory; California 1917
Hale 60-Inch Telescope 1.524 m 60″ glass mirror reflector the first of the "modern" large research reflectors, designed and located for precision imaging.[8][9] Mt. Wilson Observatory; California 1908
Great Paris Exhibition Telescope of 1900 125 cm 49.21" refractor - achromat largest refractor ever built, scrapped after Exhibition. Exposition Universelle (1900) 1900–1901
A.A. Common's 60-inch Ealing reflector[10] 1.524 m 60″ glass mirror reflector Worlds largest glass mirror reflector 1889, sold to Harvard 1904, moved to South Africa 1920s (Boyden Observatory) where it was largest telescope in the southern hemisphere. Ealing, Harvard College Observatory, Boyden Observatory 1889
Yerkes Refractor 102 cm 40″ refractor - achromat largest operational refractor Yerkes Observatory, USA 1897
A.A. Common's 36 inch Ealing reflector 91.4 cm 36″ glass mirror reflector First to prove fainter than naked eye astrophotography,[11] sold, became Crossley Reflector A.A. Common Reflector, Britain / Lick Observatory, USA 1879
Great Melbourne Telescope[12] 1.22 m 48″ speculum metal mirror reflector Last large reflector with a speculum metal mirror, worlds largest equatorially mounted telescope for several decades.[13] Melbourne Observatory, Australia 1868–1889
William Lassell 48-inch[14] 1.22 m 48″ speculum metal mirror reflector Malta 1861–1865
Leviathan of Parsonstown 1.83 m 72″ metal - speculum metal mirror reflector Worlds largest 1845 Birr Castle; Ireland 1845–1908
William Lassell 24-inch[15] 61 cm 24″ speculum metal mirror reflector Liverpool, England 1845
Great Dorpat Refractor (Fraunhofer)
Dorpat/Tartu Observatory
24 cm 9.6″ refractor - achromat "..the first modern, achromatic, refracting telescope."[16][17] Dorpat, Governorate of Estonia 1824
Rosse 36-inch Telescope 91.4 cm 36″ speculum metal mirror reflector Birr Castle; Ireland 1826
Herschel 40-foot (126 cm d.)[1] 1.26 m 49.5″ speculum metal mirror reflector Worlds largest 1789 Observatory House; England 1789–1815
Herschel 20-foot (47.5 cm d.)[18][19] 47.5 cm 18.5″ speculum metal mirror reflector Observatory House; England 1782
Rev John Michell's Gregorian reflector[2] 75 cm 29.5″ speculum metal mirror - Gregorian reflector Worlds largest 1780 Yorkshire, Great Britain 1780–1789
Dollond Apochromatic Triplet[20] 9.53 cm 3.75″ Refractor - apochromat First apochromatic triplet England 1763[20]
Father Noel's Gregorian reflector[2] 60 cm 23.5″ speculum metal mirror - Gregorian reflector Worlds largest 1761 Paris, France 1761
James Short's Gregorian reflector 50 cm 19.5" speculum metal mirror - Gregorian reflector Worlds largest 1750 Scotland 1750
James Short's Gregorian reflector 38 cm 14″ speculum metal mirror - Gregorian reflector Worlds largest 1734 Scotland 1734
Chester Moore Hall's Doublet[21] 6.4 cm 2.5" Refractor - achromat First achromatic doublet Great Britain 1733
Hadley's Reflector[22] 15 cm 6″ speculum metal mirror reflector First parabolic newtonian Great Britain 1721
Christiaan Huygens 210 foot refractor 22 cm 8.5" Refractor - Aerial telescope Worlds largest 1686 Netherlands 1686
Christiaan Huygens 170 foot refractor 20 cm 8" Refractor - Aerial telescope Worlds largest 1689 Netherlands 1686
Christiaan Huygens 210 foot refractor 19 cm 7.5" Refractor - Aerial telescope Worlds largest 1686 Netherlands 1686
Hooke's reflector[3] 18 cm 7″ speculum metal mirror - Gregorian reflector First Gregorian Great Britain 1674[23]
Newton's Reflector[24] 3.3 cm 1.3″ speculum metal mirror reflector First reflecting telescope England (mobile) 1668
Hevelius refractor 12 cm 4.7″ Refractor Worlds largest 1645 Gdańsk (Danzig), Poland 1645
Hevelius Scheiner's helioscope 6 cm 2.3″ Refractor Worlds largest 1638 & First Equatorial[21] Gdańsk (Danzig), Poland 1638
Galileo's 1620 telescope 3.8 cm[4] 1.5″ Refractor Worlds largest 1638 Italy 1638
Galileo's 1612 telescope 2.6 cm[4] 1″ Refractor Worlds largest 1612 Italy 1612
Galileo's 1609 telescope 1.5 cm[4] .62″ Refractor Worlds largest 1609 Italy 1609
Hans Lippershey's telescope  ? cm .?″ Refractor World's first recorded telescope Netherlands 1608

Legend

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Original mirror for William Herschel's 40 foot telescope, 1785". Science & Society Picture Library. Retrieved 22 November 2008. 
  2. ^ a b c d Henry C. King, The History of the Telescope - page 91
  3. ^ a b Henry C. King, The History of the Telescope - page 77
  4. ^ a b c d e f Note: Diameter of cardboard objective stop Dupré, S, Galileo's telescope and celestial light, SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS), Journal for the History of Astronomy (ISSN 0021-8286), Vol. 34, Part 4, No. 117, p. 369 - 399 (2003)
  5. ^ http://medusa.as.arizona.edu/lbto/firstbinocularlight_press_release.htm
  6. ^ http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=17931
  7. ^ http://www.hia-iha.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca/public/18_e.html
  8. ^ mwoa.org - Observing with the 60-inch Telescope at Mount Wilson
  9. ^ mtwilson.edu-Building the 60-inch Telescope Article by Mike Simmons written in 1984 (and updated in 2008) for the Mount Wilson Observatory Association
  10. ^ New York Times "NEW HARVARD TELESCOPE.; Sixty-Inch Reflector, Biggest in the World, Being Set Up. "April 6, 1905, Thursday Page 9
  11. ^ http://www.ucolick.org/public/telescopes/crossley.html
  12. ^ http://stjarnhimlen.se/bigtel/LargestTelescope.html
  13. ^ sciencephoto.com, Great Melbourne Telescope, Casting a telescope mirror, 1866
  14. ^ http://www.mikeoates.org/lassell/lassell_by_a_chapman.htm
  15. ^ http://www.mikeoates.org/lassell/telescope.htm
  16. ^ Fraunhofer and the Great Dorpat Refractor, Waaland, J. Robert, American Journal of Physics, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp. 344-350 (1967)
  17. ^ http://www.obs.ee/obs/instrumendid/fr.htm
  18. ^ http://www.maa.clell.de/Messier/E/Xtra/Bios/wherschel.html
  19. ^ http://www.nasm.si.edu/exhibitions/gal111/universe/etu_a_herschel.htm
  20. ^ a b http://articles.adsabs.harvard.edu/full/gif/1948PA.....56...75K/0000083.000.html Title: The invention and early development of the achromatic telescope, Authors: King, H. C., Journal: Popular Astronomy, Vol. 56, p.75, Bibliographic Code: 1948PA.....56...75K, Page 83
  21. ^ a b Paul Schlyter, Largest optical telescopes of the world
  22. ^ http://amazing-space.stsci.edu/resources/explorations//groundup/lesson/scopes/hadley/index.php
  23. ^ Astronomical optics and elasticity theory: active optics methods - By Gérard René Lemaitre - Page 17
  24. ^ Isaac Newton: adventurer in thought, by Alfred Rupert Hall, page 67

References[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]