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Reflecting Telescopes

This small display revealed the work of pioneering Scots in the development of the reflective telescope.

This small display revealed the work of pioneering Scots in the development of the reflective telescope.
Exhibition information

When

25 March - 28 August 2016

Where

National Museum of Scotland, Three display cases, Grand Gallery, Level 1

How much

Free

In particular, Reflecting Telescopes highlighted the work of James Gregory (1638‑75), a contemporary of Isaac Newton and Professor of Mathematics at St Andrews then Edinburgh University. Gregory published an innovative design for a ‘reflecting’ telescope in 1663. A predecessor of the modern telescope, Gregory’s device used mirrors, rather than glass lenses, to create a more compact instrument and sharper images.

  • 18-inch silvered glass telescope speculum by George With, 1878.

    18-inch silvered glass telescope speculum by George With, 1878.

  • Reflecting telescope by Edward Scarlett, London, c. 1730.

    Reflecting telescope by Edward Scarlett, London, c. 1730.

  • Reflecting telescope made by James Short of London, c. 1765.

    Reflecting telescope made by James Short of London, c. 1765.

  • Portrait of James Gregory, mathematician and inventor of the reflecting telescope, attributed to Richard Waitt (1708-32).

    Portrait of James Gregory, mathematician and inventor of the reflecting telescope, attributed to Richard Waitt (1708-32).

  • Section of a reflecting telescope for astronomy.

    Section of a reflecting telescope for astronomy.

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Early examples of Gregorian telescopes produced by Edinburgh-born optician James Short (1710-68) were also included. Combining self-taught engineering skills with an interest in practical mathematics, Short constructed over 1,300 telescopes in his lifetime.

The display also touched upon astronomy in Edinburgh, a city that has remained at the forefront of astronomical research and discovery for more than four centuries.

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