The reflecting telescope became the only available tool of the astronomer when great light grasp was requisite, as the difficulty of procuring disks of glass (especially of flint glass) of suitable purity and homogeneity limited the dimensions of the achromatic telescope.
No further practical advance appears to have been made in the design or construction of the instrument till the year 1723, when John Hadley (best known as the inventor of the sextant) presented to the Royal Society a reflecting telescope of the Newtonian construction, with a metallic speculum of 6-in.
Notwithstanding this difference in the brightness of the objects, we were able with this reflecting telescope to see whatever we have hitherto discovered with the Huygenian, particularly the transits of Jupiter's satellites and their shadows over his disk, the black list in Saturn's ring, and the edge of his shadow cast on his ring.
The fine castle of Birr, beside its historical interest, has gained celebrity on account of the reflecting telescope erected here (1828-1845) by William, third earl of Rosse.
He was well aware of the failures of all attempts to perfect telescopes by employing lenses of various forms of curvature, and accordingly proposed the form of reflecting telescope which bears his name.
The great reflecting telescope at Dorpat was manufactured by him, and so great was the skill he attained in the making of lenses for achromatic telescopes that, in a letter to Sir David Brewster, he expressed his willingness to furnish an achromatic glass of 18 in.