National Geographic Society

  • Connect:

Hiding in the Light Facts

Cameras and Telescopes

A primitive star.

A primitive star. (View larger version)

  • The camera obscura, named for the Latin words for “darkened room,” ‘ projects an image of its surroundings, becoming an important tool for artists in the 17th century to create accurate, detailed drawings.
  • In 213 BC, the First Emperor of China Qin Shi Huang burned all copies of Confucius’ works, with one copy of each kept in the Chinese State Library.
  • In 1608, a Dutch eyeglass-maker named Hans Lippershey became the first person to apply for a patent for the telescope.
  • The world’s first space-based optical telescope, the Hubble telescope is nearly as large as a school bus, transmitting an amount of data comparable to an over 3,600 foot long shelf full of books per week.
  • Hubble is unable to observe the sun and cannot observe Mercury due to its close proximity to the sun.
  • In 1781, astronomer William Herschel discovered Uranus, which was previously thought to be a star, is a planet. The planet was eventually named Uranus after the father of Saturn in Roman mythology.
  • Humans do not all see exactly the same—our eyes respond to different colors and shades. But we do tend to have emotional responses to specific colors. For example yellow can irritate, while green is more soothing.