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The mystery of the telescopes in Jan Brueghel the Elder's paintings and the invention of the telescope

Paolo Molaro
INAF, Trieste

After 400 years we do not know precisely who invented the telescope and how the first telescopes were made. Some contribution comes from art and paintings but posing new questions.Jan Brueghel the Elder as he was court painter of Archduke Albert VII of Habsburg depicted several early spyglasses in five paintings completed between 1608 and 1625. We argue that an optical tube that appears in the Extensive Landscape with View of the Castle of Mariemont, dated 1608-1612, represents the first painting of a telescope whatsoever. Some documents are produced showing that Albert VII obtained spyglasses very early directly from Lipperhey or Sacharias Janssen. Thus the painting likely reproduces one of the first man-made telescopes ever. Two other instruments appear in two Allegories of Sight made in the years 1617 and 1618. These are sophisticated instruments for the epoch. Moreover the structure, in particular the shape of the eyepiece, suggests that they may be keplerian. However, this is rather intriguing since we are about two decades ahead this mounting was in use.

2009 October 27, 16:00

Centro de Astrofísica da Universidade do Porto (Classroom)
Rua das Estrelas, 4150-762 Porto

Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa Universidade do Porto Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia da Universidade de Coimbra
Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia COMPETE 2020 PORTUGAL 2020 União Europeia