Dioptrice: Refracting Telescopes prior to 1775

Dioptrice is an attempt to catalog optical properties of refracting telescopes constructed prior to 1775. Our goal is to shed light on the evolution of telescope optics, including the development of early achromats. We began our study of telescopes in a few American collections, and have looked at some in England and Germany as well. We would like to expand our research to include as many refractors as possible. This database provides a summary of our investigations.

To see what's in the database, you can browse or click on one of the search options on the left.

Dioptrice was started in 2002 by Eugene Rudd (University of Nebraska), Duane Jaecks (University of Nebraska), and Marvin Bolt (Adler Planetarium, Chicago). This research was generously funded by the Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum and by a collaborative research grant (RZ-50206-04) from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

In 2006, Michael Korey (Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salon, Dresden, Germany) joined the project, now supported also by the American Association of Museums (AAM) through its International Partnerships Among Museums (IPAM) grant program.

A Survey of The Networks Bringing a Knowledge of Optical Glass-Working to the London Trade, 1500-1800, by Anita McConnell.

On 26 December 2006, the Chicago Tribune ran a front-page story about discoveries made during research on the Dioptrice project.

Rembrandt-style shot of Marvin Bolt, Eugene Rudd, and Devon
Pyle-Vowles testing a telescope

Marvin Bolt (right), Eugene Rudd (center) and Devon Pyle-Vowles (left, former Adler Collections Manager) measure the optical properties of a lens.


Duane Jaecks poses with an optical mirror.


Michael Korey, left, and Marvin Bolt show the early 17th-century telescope they located in Dresden.

Curated by the Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum, Chicago
W3C CSS Fri Nov 28 14:08:55 CST 2014