A telescope, often conflated with a looking glass (both work on the same basic principles) is a device constructed with a tube and a series of aligned magnification lenses allowing distant viewing of remote objects. The telescope was first invented in the 1600s by the venerable Galileo Galilei and aided him in learning much about the nature of the planets and helping him to discover heliocentrism, or the principle of the earth moving around the sun.
Today, we have a host of devices in orbit called telescopes, and they’re only really viable to be called this due to the purpose which they serve, as they work nothing like a traditional telescope. However, observatories still use large-scale traditional telescopes for observing the stars, spotting exoplanets, and monitoring activity in our solar system.
Amateur telescopes are actually fairly impressive, allowing you to make out great details of the surface of the moon, Mars, and even see individual clouds on the face of Jupiter and Saturn in some cases. Cheaper telescopes, good enough just to see the moon and Mars, a very affordable, and a great gift to get children interested in science and the cosmos around them. Telescopes are our gateway to the universe without ever having to board a starship.