Telescope?

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Asbjorn
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Telescope?

Postby Asbjorn » Tue Jul 21, 2020 2:51 am

Would a telescope been used in the middle-earth?

"The history of the telescope can be traced to before the invention of the earliest known telescope, which appeared in 1608 in the Netherlands." - Wikipedia
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Taurinor
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Re: Telescope?

Postby Taurinor » Tue Jul 21, 2020 3:44 pm

My instinctive response, based on the text, is no, probably not.

From what I've seen, there's not any evidence of glass lenses of any kind in the Professor's Middle-earth (PJ's might be a different story, but I'm not terribly interested in his interpretation). In our real-world history, telescopes were supposedly first invented by spectacle makers, and given that there don't appear to be any corrective lenses in Middle-earth (much to my personal frustration, since I'm incredibly nearsighted), it seems unlikely that they would come about that way.

There was a discussion about magnifying lenses (in relation to firemaking, specifically) a little while back that you might find interesting, since it seems like sort of a similar idea!
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Asbjorn
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Re: Telescope?

Postby Asbjorn » Tue Jul 21, 2020 7:26 pm

Tank you Taurinor^^
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Re: Telescope?

Postby Iodo » Tue Jul 21, 2020 8:28 pm

this is a question that's always puzzled me as well, in a lot of places middle earth matches up with historical periods quite well however there aren't any mention of lenses even though they existed in medieval times, and I'm not quite sure how you make intricate dwarven engraving or elven jewelry without one? maybe magic? or maybe it wasn't important enough to mention so it didn't make it into the books. There's glass windows and bottles in middle earth, I don't know about telescopes, but I don't see how a glass blower wouldn't notice that certain shapes magnify things

Also, I can't find my source but I remember reading somewhere, about a device that was just a hollow tube with no lenses that sailors used, before telescopes existed, for cutting out glare from a bright sky and making it easier for the eye to focus on one single distant object
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Taurinor
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Re: Telescope?

Postby Taurinor » Tue Jul 21, 2020 9:44 pm

Iodo wrote:this is a question that's always puzzled me as well, in a lot of places middle earth matches up with historical periods quite well however there aren't any mention of lenses even though they existed in medieval times, and I'm not quite sure how you make intricate dwarven engraving or elven jewelry without one? maybe magic? or maybe it wasn't important enough to mention so it didn't make it into the books. There's glass windows and bottles in middle earth, I don't know about telescopes, but I don't see how a glass blower wouldn't notice that certain shapes magnify things

I'd guess the elves probably wouldn't need them, given that Legolas has even keener eyes than Aragorn (TTT, Book III, Chapter 2, "The Riders of Rohan"). As Elleth mentioned in the post linked above, water magnifiers or natural stone magnifiers are possible, but they don't appear in the books. Maybe they weren't important enough to mention, maybe they don't exist in Middle-earth; we can't really say one way or another.

I read on Wikipedia (so, ya know, take that for what you will) that ground glass lenses (for magnification or eyesight correction) didn't appear in Europe until the 13th century. That's a little later than the Anglo-Saxon/Norse-influenced image I carry around in my head for most of Middle-earth, the exception being hobbits. Hobbits have matches (The Hobbit, Chapter 5, "Riddles in the Dark") and are described as keen-eyed (TFotR, Prologue, Chapter 1, "Concerning Hobbits") though, so they might not have much use for burning or corrective lenses.

I don't think a magnifying or burning lens is supported by the text, but I also know folks like to carry them, because fire is important! I don't think corrective lenses are supported by the text, but I wear them, because seeing is important! For me personally, the combination of convex and concave ground glass lenses used in early telescopes is a couple steps too far for my personal idea of Middle-earth, but at the end of the day, this is for fun!
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Re: Telescope?

Postby Cimrandir » Thu Jul 23, 2020 3:33 pm

I largely agree with Taurinor regarding the general aesthetic of Middle-earth with my mental picture cutting off roughly at ~1100 A.D. That’s couple hundred years too early for telescopes so as useful as they would be, I doubt Rangers would carry them in-world. However, I would be lying if I said I haven’t been considering purchasing a nice pair of binoculars for my animal and bird watching while on the trail. I’d probably stick them in the same place as my phone and keys since they are out of context as well. It’s all for fun anyway!
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Re: Telescope?

Postby wulfgar » Fri Jul 24, 2020 1:06 am

I could see it for certain races like Hobbits, Bilbo did have a clock on his mantle after all.
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Re: Telescope?

Postby Asbjorn » Fri Jul 24, 2020 10:10 pm

So i watched all of the lord of the rings movies and hobbit movies to see if i couldve missed anything and i found one dude using a monocle.
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Re: Telescope?

Postby Iodo » Wed Jul 29, 2020 9:24 pm

Asbjorn wrote:So i watched all of the lord of the rings movies and hobbit movies to see if i couldve missed anything and i found one dude using a monocle.


I'm guessing you mean the eye glass Balin uses to check the contract Bilbo signs? I don't think there's evidence for this in the books but I think it's the closest thing to a lens in anything middle earth I've seen
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Re: Telescope?

Postby Asbjorn » Thu Jul 30, 2020 9:05 pm

Iodo - Yes that is exactly right
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Re: Telescope?

Postby Iodo » Fri Jul 31, 2020 8:12 am

I'd been thinking of making something similar to that for a while but I never got around to it, and I can't deny that the idea of a dwarven telescope made to similar designs hadn't crossed my mind, with my persona being based at Erebor - next to the long lake, boats etc... wouldn't be unusual and a telescope is something that may come in handy, although I never did it because of lack of evidence in the text
Gimli: It's true you don't see many Dwarf-women. And in fact, they are so alike in voice and appearance, that they are often mistaken for Dwarf-men.
Aragorn: It's the beards.
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Asbjorn
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Re: Telescope?

Postby Asbjorn » Sat Aug 01, 2020 5:51 am

I think i will get some sort of telescope because its a law that you need binoculars in a boat that you plan to take out to sea here in sweden.
But then again i will need a radio and some other modern gear as per the law.
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Re: Telescope?

Postby Iodo » Sat Aug 01, 2020 5:27 pm

you could just hide a modern telescope with the radio, although since you need it, something a little more "in world" would be cool - even if it's not backed up in the text
Gimli: It's true you don't see many Dwarf-women. And in fact, they are so alike in voice and appearance, that they are often mistaken for Dwarf-men.
Aragorn: It's the beards.

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