Solved the mystery of the defective telescopes of Christiaan Huygens

The scientist of the XVII century Christiaan Huygens is known for his telescopes. Thanks to which he observed Saturn. Huygens discovered Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, and made conclusions about the shape of the planet’s rings. But, according to some reports, the Dutch scientist’s telescopes were defective and produced fuzzy images compared to competitors, despite well-made lenses.

Christiaan Huygens built telescopes to observe Saturn in the 1600s, but they were not as good as the telescopes of his competitors, even though his lenses were much better. One researcher suggested that this might be because the astronomer suffered from nearsightedness.

Astronomer Alexander G. M. Pietrow believes that he has found the cause of the problematic Huygens telescopes. The astronomer believes that the problem is huygens’ need for glasses. He wrote about his assumption in the Royal Society Journal of the History of Science.

When creating his telescopes, Huygens compared two lenses – a lens and an eyepiece – located at both ends of the telescope. Huygens experimented with different lenses to find combinations that, in his opinion, created a sharp image. Finally, he created a table to keep track of which combinations to use to get a certain increase. But when compared with modern knowledge about optics, Huygens’ calculations were somewhat incorrect, said Pietrow of the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics in Potsdam in Germany.

One possible explanation: Huygens chose lenses based on his defective vision. Historical records indicate: Huygens’ father was nearsighted, so it would not be surprising if Christian Huygens also suffered from this often hereditary disease. If so, Huygens telescopes may have failed to reach their potential at the time.

Earlier we reported how Galileo Galilei’s letter turned out to be a fake.

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