Public Programs in the time of COVID - Galileoscopes for Outreach
From Douglas Arion, PhD, co-founder of the Galileoscope program and Executive Director of Mountains of Stars:
 
            COVID-19 has made it difficult to do public observing and hands-on programming, and has had a huge impact on schools and students. Our regular star parties and even informal “come out and observe” events aren’t happening. We can’t have groups in physical proximity, and there’s no good way to sanitize your (expensive!) eyepieces and telescopes after each individual takes a look. But we all want to continue sharing the night sky with people and bring them that awesome experience of connecting with the universe. So, why not offer Galileoscopes? Each person then has his or her own telescope — one that they can continue using to enjoy the night sky into the future.

            Galileoscopes are also great for schools, from K-12 to colleges and universities, for the same reasons. They offer a hands-on experience in telescopes and optics, and are a durable tool that students can continue to use and stay engaged with astronomy. Providing Galileoscopes to science teachers in your local district, to parents homeschooling their kids – or helping their kids with online school sessions, and to faculty at academic institutions, can be a great way to continue the mission of science education.

            As you likely already know, the Galileoscope refractor kit was created originally for the 2009 International Year of Astronomy but has remained in production ever since. Rick Fienberg and I continue to be involved in the project, and we are proud to have distributed more than 260,000 kits to users in 110 countries, but there are limits to how far the two of us could take the project. In 2019 we were able to transfer production and distribution to Explore Scientific, which has much greater capabilities than the two of us could bring to sustaining the Galileoscope into the future.
            As a reminder, Galileoscopes are 50mm f/10 refractor kits that require no tools, fasteners, or adhesives to assemble. Each comes with a 20mm Plössl eyepiece (rendering 25x and a 1½° field of view) and a 2x achromatic Barlow (offering 50x); there’s also a Galilean eyepiece configuration so you can experience views like what Galileo saw more than 400 years ago.

Educational materials and instructions in multiple languages are available on the Galileoscope website (https://galileoscope.org). You can also find great resources on YouTube, from workshops for educators to ways to economically connect cameras and other accessories to Galileoscopes. And, yes, solar filters are available to fit Galileoscopes as well! 
    
 
Last Updated: September  8, 2020
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