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400 Years Ago The Birth of the Telescope, Oct.2 1608

Its been 400 years since the birth of the telescope- at least according to some scientists and historians.

Nonetheless, the Netherlands is celebrating (aka conferencing) to mark 4 centuries of one of the most influential inventions ever.

Based on several sources, it is believed that on October 2 1608, eyeglass maker Hans Lippershey, originally born in Germany, filed a patent application in Netherlands (or in Belgium, no one is certain) for a device he called a "kijiker" or looker.

The story isn't without polemic. Some claim that Lipphershey's neighbor and fellow eyeglass maker Zacharias Janssen invented an instrument capable of viewing far-off objects up close. Despite the open questions, all of the potential inventors resided in the Netherlands so this year the Dutch are taking credit for the telescope.

In 1609, Galileo Galilei set about improving the telescope and was eventually able to gaze at the stars and moons. His observations offered proof that the Sun and planets do not revolve around the Earth, much to the chagrin of the Catholic Church.

In commemoration Italy, being home to the famous scientist, convinced the United Nations (U.N.) to hold the International Year of Astronomy in 2009, when the rest of the world will likely join in celebrating the birth of the telescope (the Netherlands will participate as well).

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