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."