Palau issued an exceptional pair of coins, celebrating the 400 years of telescopes in 2008. Although this was one year before IYA2009, and even IYA2009 is not mentioned on them, their strong astronomy relation made me to list these coins here.

What makes this pair of coins extraordinary is that they contain optical lenses. One of them contains a positive, the other a negative lens. Using these two lenses a so called Galilei telescope can be built. Holding the coins in the right distance and alignment you can build a small telescope, and use for observing.

The obverse of the first coin shows Hans Lippershey, (one of) the discoverer of telescopes. In fact it was not Galilei who built the first telescope, some opticians in Netherlands hold this record. (But it was Galilei, who used the telescope for astronomical observation for the first time in history in 1609. These type of telescope consisting a positive lens as an objective, and a negative lens as an ocular therefore are named after him as Galilei type telescope. See History of the telescope) The scene on the coin displays the event when Lippershey put the lenses into the right order and distance for the first time, thus making a telescope, and observing some terrestrial object - possibly the receding ship - for the first sight. Right to him some lenses lay on the table, while in front of him a sailing ship is visible on the sea through the open door. The negative focus lens is inserted in the hole below the ship. Legend above is: "400 YEARS OF TELESCOPE". Below: "HANS LIPPERSHEY", and dates 1608, 2008.


The reverse shows the coat of arms of Palau. Legend above is: "REPUBLIC OF PALAU".

The obverse of the second coin shows the "flagship" of 400 years of telescope development, the Hubble Space Telescope among some celestial bodies. This coin contains a positive focus lens below the Hubble Telescope. Legend above is the same: "400 YEARS OF TELESCOPE". Below: "THE HUBBLE", and dates 1608, 2008.

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The reverse is the same as the first coin. It shows the coat of arms of Palau. Legend above is: "REPUBLIC OF PALAU".

Both coin were made of 925 fine silver, have weight 25 gram, and diameter 38.61 mm. Their are legal tenders having face value of $5. Only 1608 pieces were made. According to the certificate, a 4x magnification telescope can be built with the coins.