Christiaan Huygens’ Telescope Lenses Tell Us He Was Nearsighted

A world-famous 17th-century astronomer credited with discovering Saturn’s moon Titan may have needed glasses, according to a recent paper in the Royal Society Journal of the History of Science.

In an era when telescope technology was less than a century old, and evolving rapidly through trial-and-error iterations, Christiaan Huygens was known for producing lenses of unparalleled quality. However, the telescopes he built with those lenses consistently underperformed. The cause, AIP researcher Alex Pietrow suggests, may have been myopia, or nearsightedness, which was a common condition in the Huygens family, though his case must have been mild enough not to notice.

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