Abstract

The Florentine Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza houses two complete telescopes and a single objective lens (reconstructed from several fragments) that can be attributed to Galileo. These optics have been partially dismantled and made available for optical testing with state-of-the-art equipment. The lenses were investigated individually; the focal length and the radii of curvature were measured, and the optical layout of the instruments was worked out. The optical quality of the surfaces and the overall performance of the two complete telescopes have been evaluated interferometrically at a wavelength of 633 nm (with a He–Ne laser source). It was found in particular that the optics of Galileo came close to attaining diffraction-limited operation.

© 1993 Optical Society of America

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