The telescope has done more to enlarge our knowledge of the universe than any other instrument. Over 400 years ago the first telescopes were simple devices, little more than a couple of lenses at either end of a pasteboard tube. Even with such instruments, Galileo realised that the telescope gave us a completely new sense of where we are in the Universe. This is the story of how instrument makers and astronomers developed telescopes over the centuries into some of the most sophisticated of all scientific tools. It has taken a long time to reach the performance of today’s instruments that both amateurs and professionals enjoy, telescopes that continue to show how the twinkling light of the stars can reveal the complexity of the universe at large.