Credit: ©The Royal Society
    Image number: RS.14789

    Reflecting telescope

    6 January 1672
    Object type
    Archive reference number
    Manuscript page number
    height (page): 307mm
    width (page): 355mm
    Content object
    Drawing of Isaac Newton's improvements to the reflecting telescope. Henry Oldenburg made this drawing and sent it to Newton in a letter asking him to review and correct it before it was sent on to Christian Huygens to secure Newton's priority for the invention. The two small crowns are on a separate piece of paper that has been attached to the larger drawing; they demonstrate the magnification ability of the telescope.

    This image is a copy of EL/N1/37/003. It is also copied in RBO/4/122 and LBC/5/110a. It was published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society in March 1672.
    Object history
    At the meeting of the Royal Society on 11 January 1672, ‘Mr. Isaac Newton was elected. [...] Mention was made of Mr. Newton’s improvement of telescopes by contracting them; and that that, which he had sent to the Society of that kind to be examined, had been by the king, and considered also by the president, Sir Robert Moray, Sir Paul Neile, Dr. Christopher Wren, and Mr. Hooke at Whitehall; and that they had so good opinion of it, as they concluded, that a description and scheme of it should be sent by the secretary in a letter to Mons. Huygens then at Paris, thereby to secure this contrivance to the author, who had also written a letter to Mr. Oldenburg from Cambridge, dated January 6, 1671/2, altering and enlarging the description of his instrument, which had been sent him for his review, before it should go abroad. This description was read, and ordered to be entered, together with the scheme, in the Register Book’ (Birch 3:1). Newton’s letter in printed in Birch 3:2-4 without the figure.

    Tab. 1, figs 1-3.1 in Isaac Newton, 'A new catadioptrical telescope', Phil. Trans. vol. 7, no. 81 (March 1672), pp. 4004-10. Ref. to figs 1 and 2 at pp. 4004-05.
    Related fellows
    Isaac Newton (1642 - 1727, British) , Natural philosopher
    Henry Oldenburg (1612 - 1677, German) , Scientific correspondent
    Associated place
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