'Galileoscope' Brings Low-Cost Starwatching to Kids

Galileoscope Telescope Kit
The Galileoscope telescope kit with its new IYL 2015 packaging. (Image credit: Rick Fienberg)

A low-cost telescope designed to help students around the world appreciate the wonders of the cosmos is now available in a special edition to celebrate the 2015 International Year of Light.

The makers of the 2-inch-wide (50 millimeters), 25- to 50-power "Galileoscope" — which takes its name from famed Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei — have produced 20,000 special-edition kits in honor of the 2015 International Year of Light (IYL 2015). The United Nations initiative aims to raise awareness and appreciation of the optical sciences.

A case of six Galileoscope kits, regular or special edition, costs $150.

"In the process of assembling the Galileoscope, students explore fundamental optical concepts such as how lenses form images," IYL 2015 officials wrote in a statement.

Once the telescope is assembled, they added, students "enjoy sharp views of lunar craters and mountains, Jupiter's moons, Saturn's rings, the phases of Venus and other bright celestial objects."

The Galileoscope was first created for the 2009 International Year of Astronomy to provide a low-cost but high-quality telescope for audiences who may not have usually had access to astronomy equipment.

Since then, more than 225,000 Galileoscopes have been distributed in 100 countries. IYL 2015 and the International Astronomical Union have declared the Galileoscope a "Cosmic Light cornerstone project" and said they hope to put 100,000 more of the telescopes in use this year.

"The kit is augmented with free, standards-based optics-education and observing activities, available in multiple languages," officials wrote. "These well-tested activities can be used by classroom and after-school teachers, as well as informal educators, to provide a rigorous approach to teaching science and the process of science."

Organizations that have used Galileoscopes in their training include the U.S. National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO), the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) and the Galileo Teacher Training Program (GTTP), IYL 2015 officials said.

More information about the Galileoscope is available at http://galileoscope.org.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for Space.com for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace