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The possibility of the telescope


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Biggs, Alfred Barrett 1891 , 'The possibility of the telescope' , Papers & Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania , pp. 18-24 .

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Up to about the end of the 15th century mankind was in
a condition of helpless ignorance with regard to the nature,
the distances, and the dimensions or (except two) the form
of the various bodies which constitute the visible universe.
No human eye had ever beheld either stars or planets as
other than dimensionless points. Their motions and positions
had been carefully observed, systematised and theorised
upon ; but they were unapproachable. What a wonderful
revelation then must that have been which Galileo's telescope
opened up ! practically diminishing the distance some 20 or
30 times. True, his was a very simple affair, and feeble in its
infancy; but it revealed some most important facts. It
served to show that the planets at least were globes, some of
them of vast bulk : it opened up to human vision for the
first time the wonderful mountainous scenery of the Moon.
But perhaps its most important service was to establish
beyond question the Copernican theory of astronomy by
revealing the phases of the inner planets—also the moons of
Jupiter—a Copernican system in miniature.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Biggs, Alfred Barrett
Keywords: Royal Society of Tasmania, Van Diemens Land, VDL, Hobart Town, natural sciences, proceedings, records
Journal or Publication Title: Papers & Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania
Collections: Royal Society Collection > Papers & Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania
Additional Information:

In 1843 the Horticultural and Botanical Society of Van Diemen's Land was founded and became the Royal Society of Van Diemen's Land for Horticulture, Botany, and the Advancement of Science in 1844. In 1855 its name changed to Royal Society of Tasmania for Horticulture, Botany, and the Advancement of Science. In 1911 the name was shortened to Royal Society of Tasmania.

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