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Spyglass vs Telescope – A Detailed Discussion and Comparison

If you are an astronomer or into astronomical objects, then you might have come across a spyglass and a telescope. Beginners or inexperienced people might confuse these optical tools as the same thing.

But instead, spyglass and telescope are two different objects used for various purposes. Their appearance might be the same, yet it is their functionality that makes them discrete. Let’s clear out this confusion with our comprehensive discussion on ‘Spyglass vs Telescope.’

What is a Telescope?

 A telescope is an optical instrument used to make distant objects appear clearer and nearer. It is a tubular tool that is used primarily to study distant planets, stars, and space. 

How Does a Telescope Work?

A telescope works by reflecting the light through a concave mirror or refracting the light via a lens. It has a discrete arrangement of lenses and mirrors that are brought into coordination to focus the light on one point, which ultimately makes that point magnified. 

Structure of a Telescope

The structure of a telescope depends upon which class of the telescope it belongs to. If we consider the design of a simple telescope, then it is a long tubular pipe simply containing a pair of lenses. One at the front is referred to as an objective lens, while the other at the back is called an eyepiece or eyepiece lens. The objective lens focuses on the object, while the eyepiece performs the task of magnifying the image. We can see the resultant enlarged image through the eyepiece.

 Both of these lenses are made of a purer form of glass i.e., optical glass. It is much longer than a simple microscope or a spyglass and usually needs a tripod for support. 

But it was the construction of just a simple and basic telescope. There are much bigger types of telescopes. For instance, the most giant telescope on Earth is ‘Gran Telescopio Canarias’, which has an aperture of almost 34-feet. It expands over an area of 2,267 meters and is far more complex in construction.

Well, this was the basic definition of a telescope and its structure in our discussion for Spyglass vs Telescope. Now let’s investigate what a spyglass is.

What is a Spyglass?

Spyglass is basically a smaller version of a telescope, but unlike a telescope, it is used for geographical investigation, not astronomical. It is a hand-held tool that is much smaller in size than a telescope. 

Is Spyglass the Same Telescope? & How it Works?

Is spyglass the same as telescope? It is undoubtedly the most frequently asked question by anyone who sees a spyglass first-time.  

Thus the answer is no. Spyglass works in the same way as a telescope, but the difference lies in the two instruments’ magnification power, making them so different from one another. A spyglass is much less potent than its competitor; that is why one cannot observe distant objects in space using it. But instead, it is only capable of making distant objects in seas and lands appear clearer and nearer. It has one weaker convex lens, and the focal length is also shorter, which is the reason behind its lower magnifying power.

Structure of a Spyglass

A spyglass might look similar to a telescope, but instead of being tubular, it is more on the cylindrical side. It is not that big and does not need a tripod stand for support. In fact, many spyglasses are collapsible and can be folded; thus, they are travel-friendly too. Moreover, unlike the telescope, it is not heavily built and is way more accessible.

Spyglass vs Telescope– The Comparison

To understand, more notably, the discussion of Spyglass vs Telescope, we have created a comparison table enlisting the major differences and similarities between the two tools.

TelescopeSpyglass
DiscoveryHans LippersheyJacob Metius
UseFor Astronomical and Meteorological StudiesFor terrestrial and geographical studies
Used byAstronomers, Astrologists, astronauts, and scientists.Pirates, Police, local people, tourists, scientists, and researchers.
Magnifying PowerHigher Magnifying Power. Maximum is 50X for most commercial telescopesLower Magnifying Power. Maximum is 5X – 10X for most spyglasses
Number of Lenses2 or more1 or 2
StructureTubular, lengthier, and need a tripod stand for supportCylindrical, hand-held, and foldable.
Availability Not readily available and expensiveAntique, but much affordable than a telescope
PortabilityNeed the training to use it efficiently and cannot be carried from place to placeTravel-friendly and anyone can use it

Spyglass vs Telescope: Which is Better?

Well, both of these optical tools have their own importance. As you can see above, they are both used for different purposes; thus, comparing them only because they look alike would not be fair. 

If you want to observe distant planets like Saturn or Jupiter, a telescope is used; but spyglass is the portable option if you are on a voyage or investigating.

If you still don’t know enough about a spyglass, how about some more facts and points on this useful but antique instrument.

Why is it Called Spyglass?

Ever wondered why is it called spyglass? It is called so because of its remarkable spying applications. During the 16th century, it became popular when it was used by militants, investigators, and pirates for spying purposes. Since then, people started calling it ‘spyglass’ or a ‘spyglass telescope and this is how it got its name.

Although Jacob Metius discovered it, it gained popularity when Galileo Galilei modified it and used it in his research.

Moreover, you would be amazed to know that the invention and sudden popularity of a spyglass during the 16th century led to more pirate invasions and attacks in the sea; pirates started using the spyglass for locating the ships and preys. Since then, spyglasses are known for their use by pirates.

What is Pirate Spyglass Name?

The pirate telescope name or a pirate spyglass name is “pirates nautical telescope’ or ‘bring ‘em closer’ device. It is nicknamed by marines and is basically nothing but a simple spyglass. But it is seen that some pirates modify it too, by making them of gold, silver, or any other metal. In some types, it can also be transformed into a cane. Moreover, what was even more interesting to hear was that pirates also used spyglass as cases for keeping essential papers.

How Do You Make SpyGlass?

If you are too intrigued like many others by the question, How do you make Spyglass? Is it even possible? Then we want to tell you that yes, it is.

Obviously, you cannot make a professional spyglass at home, but a basic one is possible. It would not have an original lens, lenses, or mirrors.

Follow the points listed below to know “How do you make Spyglass?

  • Take a paper tube. And Cover it with craft paper of any color of your choice.
  • Cover one end of the tube with a clean plastic and tape it to the place tightly so that it does not have folds or bumps in it.
  • Decorate it as you want.