In 1609 Galileo Made His First Telescope
In the summer of 1609, Galileo Galilei was in Venice, where he heard news of a Flemish inventor's new creation, "a glass by means of which distant objects could be seen as distinctly as if they were nearby" (see Stillman Drake's book, "Galileo at Work"). Returning home to Padua, Galileo put his mind to assembling such a device of his own, and one day later he built his first telescope.
Four hundred years later, astronomers and astronomy buffs around the world plan to mark the anniversary of Galileo's first refracting telescope, with a 12-month calendar full of special events and programs.
(Note: while Galileo gets credit for the telescope because of the ground-breaking influence of his creation, the first "spyglasses" were made in 1608 by three men in the Netherlands: Hans Lippershey, Zacharias Janssen and Jacob Metius. Hence, Europe's 400-years-of-the-telescope celebration is taking place this year.)
Also dubbed "The International Year of Astronomy" (IYA), 2009 "will be a global celebration of astronomy and its contributions to society and culture, highlighted by the 400th anniversary of the first use of an astronomical telescope by Galileo Galilei," according to the IYA's Website. Heading up preparations for the IYA are two key partners: the International Astronomical Union and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).