List of largest optical telescopes in the 18th century

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List of largest optical telescopes in the 18th century, are listings of what were, for the time period of the 18th century, large optical telescopes. The list includes various refractor and reflector that were active some time between about 1699 to 1801. It is oriented towards astronomy, not terrestrial telescopes (e.g. spyglass).

Selected Reflectors & Refractors[edit]

The main telescope technologies during this period were refractors with non-achromatic objectives (single lens), speculum metal reflectors, refractors with achromatic doublets objective (doublet lens), and apochromatic triplets (after 1760s) objectives. The list is inherently limited by what examples and records survived.


Name(s) Aperture
cm (in)
Type Significance Location then/Original Site Extant*
Herschel 40-foot (1.26 m diameter)[1] 126 cm(49.5″) Reflector World's largest 1789 Observatory House; England 1789–1815
Rev John Michell's Gregorian reflector[2] 75 cm (29.5″) Reflector - Gregorian World's largest 1780 Yorkshire, Great Britain 1780–1789
Herschel "X Feet"[3] or "Large 10 Feet"[4] 61 cm (24″) Reflector England 1800
Father Noel's Gregorian reflector[2] 60 cm (23.5″) Reflector - Gregorian World's largest 1761 Paris, France 1761
James Short Gregorian reflector 50 cm (19.5") Reflector - Gregorian World's largest 1750 Scotland 1750
Schröter 27 foot Newtonian[3] 47 cm (18.5") Reflector Lilienthal, Lower Saxony (Germany) 1793
Herschel 20-foot[5][6] 47 cm (18.5″) Reflector Observatory House; England 1782
James Short Reflector for King of Spain[3] 46 cm (18.1″) Reflector - Gregorian Spain 1752
James Short's Gregorian reflector 38 cm (14″) Reflector - Gregorian World's largest 1734 Scotland 1734
Huygens aerial for Royal Society of London[7] 19 cm (7.5″) aerial London, England 1691-1786[8]
William Herschel 7-foot[7] 16 cm (6.3″) Reflector Discovered Georgium Sidus England 1776–1783
Hadley's Reflector[9] 15 cm (6″) Reflector First parabolic newtonian England 1721
Van Deyl of Amsterdam telescope[10] 11.4 cm (4.5″) achromat England 1781
Shuckburgh telescope 10 cm (4.1″) achromat First large equatorial[11] Warwickshire, England 1791–1923
Dollond Apochromatic Triplet[12] 9.53 cm (3.75″) apochromat First apochromatic triplet England 1763[12]
Francesco Bianchini's aerial telescope[13] 6.6 cm (2.6") aerial Rome, Italy 1726
Chester Moore Hall's Doublet[7] 6.4 cm (2.5") achromat First achromatic doublet England 1733
Troughton Equatorial Telescope[14] 5.08 cm (2") achromat Equatorial mount Armagh Observatory, Ireland 1795
Newton's reflector[15] (1st) 3.3 cm (1.3") Reflector First reflecting telescope England 1668-1704[15]

* (First light or Build Completion to Inactive or Deconstruction)

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]