How to Make a Telescope

By Curtis Fease

The very first practical telescope was invented in 1608, and greatly improved by Galileo in 1609. Upon sharing his findings with the general public, Galileo ensured that anyone, rich or poor, could get a good view of the universe. Using simple science along with a few household materials, you can make your own telescope and get a better look at the heavens above.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 Magnifying Glasses (1-1.5" in diameter. Best if one is bigger than the other)
  • 1 Cardboard Tube (paper towel roll works, but gift wrap roll is better)
  • Duct Tape
  • Scissors
  • Ruler or Other Measuring Device
  • Sheet of Printed Paper (magazine or newspaper works)
  • A Friend

Make a Telescope

Step 1

Put the printed paper on a table or countertop. Hold a magnifying glass (larger one if they are different sizes) between your face and the paper. The image is going to be blurry at this point.

Step 2

Continue holding the first magnifying glass where it is, but use your other hand to hold the other magnifying glass between your eyes and the first magnifying glass. Now move the second magnifying glass back and forth until the print comes into sharp focus in the second magnifying glass. The print will appear large and upside down.

Step 3

Get your friend to measure the distance between the two magnifying glasses while you hold them at the distance where the image was sharp.

Step 4

Cut a slot in the cardboard tube 1 inch from one end. Do not cut all the way through the tube, as the larger magnifying glass will need to be placed in this slot.

Step 5

Remember the distance your friend measured? Measure the same distance from the front slot on the tube and cut another slot in the tubing. The second magnifying glass will be going here.

Step 6

Place the two magnifying glasses in their respective slots. Tape the magnifying glasses in place with the duct tape.

Step 7

Measure 0.5 - 1 inch behind the smaller magnifying glass. This is as much tubing as you need, so cut off the excess.

Step 8

Test out the telescope by looking at the printed page with it. You may have to adjust the exact distance between the two magnifying glasses to get the best quality telescope. You should be able to see the moon, some star clusters, and other objects on Earth.

Tips & Warnings

  • View the picture at the top of this page. This picture showed that you can put the telescope on a stand or tripod. To do this in the most simplistic way, just use the duct tape if you want.