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Cincinnati Observatory Center's 40 Galileos Starry Messenger Project

The Cincinnati Observatory (COC) is awarding forty 8-inch Dobsonian telescopes to deserving students, teachers, and community leaders across the Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana region.
Dean Regas, Outreach Astronomer, COC
Herget Building
The Cincinnati Observatory Center was first formed in 1997 as a volunteer committee dedicated to revitalizing and preserving the Cincinnati Observatory and its historic setting.
Courtesy of Cincinnati Observatory
In the spirit of the International Year of Astronomy and Galileo's 400th anniversary of the scientific use of the telescope, the Cincinnati Observatory is awarding forty 8-inch Dobsonian reflector telescopes from Orion Telescopes to deserving students, teachers, and community leaders across the Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana region.

Through partnerships with teachers, school administrators, and universities, this project will enhance the academic life of its participants and reach a diverse audience. Essentially we hope to have 40 more of us out there — qualified experts bringing telescopes to the people.

To receive a telescope, each applicant must submit a viable, detailed plan of action and swear to only use their telescope for good, never evil.
40 Telescopes at Cincinnati Observatory Center
The Cincinnati Observatory is awarding forty 8-inch Dobsonian reflector telescopes from Orion Telescopes to deserving students, teachers, and community leaders across the Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana region.
Dean Regas, Cincinnati Observatory Center
The response exceeded our expectations with 145 unique, innovative, and exciting proposals. Schools, scout groups, libraries, civic organizations, and one music band all vied for one of 40 telescopes. Our selection committee of amateur and professional astronomers had a mighty task and chose 40 well-supported projects that would reach a wide and often underserved audience. These 40 finalists include nine high school teachers, nine middle school teachers, seven elementary teachers, four non-profit education institutions, three scout leaders, two high school students, two libraries, two parks, one home school group, and one retirement center.

Not so fast…
The winners can't claim their prizes yet. Each Finalist must attend two training sessions with Cincinnati Observatory staff and participate in at least two star parties or sidewalk astronomy expeditions. The telescopes will then officially be awarded to the participants at the Cincinnati Observatory's annual telescope fest, ScopeOut 2009, in September.

Our plan received an added boost when we won the Astronomy magazine 2009 Out-of-this-World Award for excellence in Astronomy Outreach. After reviewing nearly 40 applications, Matt Quandt, online editor of Astronomy, wrote of our program, "COC separated itself from the pack with its '40 Telescopes' program."
Dean Regas of Cincinnati Observatory Center
Dean Regas is the Outreach Astronomer at the Cincinnati Observatory Center.
Our hope is that this distribution of 40 high-grade telescopes across our community will celebrate astronomical and scientific achievement and multiply the reach of astronomy education to the region. These telescopes will make a lasting impact and ignite scientific curiosities for the next 25 years.

Over the next 6 months I will share stories from the participants. One finalist is planning star parties for each of the 41 branches of the Cincinnati Public Library. Another is a high school science teacher who will train her students to give presentations to the elementary schools in her district.

We will learn more about their passion for astronomy education and their motivation to undertake such a project. And as the telescopes hit the streets and enter the classrooms, I will chronicle the reactions of their audiences and the effects this program has to make Cincinnati into "Telescope Town." I hope by September we will have 40 Galileos out there wowing the public!

Dean Regas is the Outreach Astronomer at the Cincinnati Observatory Center. He can be reached at deanobservatory@zoomtown.com and writes an astronomy/mythology blog.
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