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The Galileoscope for the IYA2009

Mercury Summer 2008 Table of Contents

Prototype Galileoscope

A prototype Galileoscope shown at the St. Louis ASP meeting in early June.
Image courtesy of Paul Deans.

by Stephen M. Pompea

A key moment in human intellectual history began when Galileo Galilei first turned his telescope skyward. For those of us who love astronomy, a similar moment occurred when we first looked through a telescope or binoculars.

Remember the first time you observed the Moon through a telescope and were amazed by the mountains and craters you saw? Or when you turned the scope to Jupiter and spotted cloud belts and the Galilean satellites? Or when you first viewed Saturn's rings?

Galileo was astonished when he pointed his homemade telescope toward the sky. For the IYA2009, we felt that millions of children worldwide should have the same opportunity, because observing through a telescope for the first time is a memorable experience that alters our view of the sky and our place in the universe.

The Galileoscope project arose out of a desire to combine the excitement of viewing through a small telescope with observations of the same objects that Galileo made. We have designed a high-quality refracting telescope kit that kids can use to conduct experiments in optics, assemble, and then observe the Moon and planets.

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