School Shows

Two Small Pieces of Glass

Two Small Pieces of Glass: The Amazing Telescope

For Grades 5 and up
22 minutes

The show begins with two young teens riding their bikes to a Star Party, where their teacher and other astronomers have set up telescopes for star gazing. Discussions ensue about the different kinds of telescopes and how they work. The history of the telescope is revealed as we look back in time.

In 1608, Hans Lippershey took two small pieces of glass and fit them into a tube. Soon after, Galileo read an account of it and built his own telescope. He was able to see enough in the sky to support Copernicus' theory of a sun-centered solar system and find objects orbiting Jupiter. He could also see "ears" on Saturn, later to be identified with larger telescopes as its rings.

Early telescopes often suffered from color aberrations, but Issac Newton figured out that it was due to the way that colors of light pass through the glass lenses used by refracting telescopes. He solved this problem by using mirrors instead of lenses and fabricated the first reflecting telescope. His design elements remain fundamental to all modern reflecting telescopes that are used today at major observatories. The show moves ahead to Edwin Hubble and his work that led to the discovery that the universe is expanding. He is most well-known for the Hubble Space Telescope, named for him, that has given us amazing views of the universe, in part because it was able to get rid of the interference of the Earth's atmosphere.

Two Small Pieces of Glass Trailer on YouTube