4 January 2023

Galileoscope Kits with Solar Filters for the Upcoming Eclipses

Douglas Arion Mountains of Stars/Carthage College

Back in 2009, I partnered with Richard Fienberg (American Astronomical Society) to launch Galileoscope as an international cornerstone project for the International Year of Astronomy. These low-cost, high-quality telescope kits have been an important instrument for engagement with astronomy ever since. Galileoscope was also selected as an international cornerstone for the 2015 International Year of Light. Continuing production has seen more than 270,000 in use in over 110 countries. A wide range of educational guides and materials have been created, along with instructions in multiple languages, and are available through the project website. There is also a large established user base, and many online resources have been created including how-to videos for building and using Galileoscopes from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. There are also many instructor guides like these on integrating Galileoscopes into the classroom or using Galileoscopes to teach about optics

Galileoscopes are 50mm diameter, 500mm focal length refractors with achromatic glass doublet objectives and a Plossl 20mm focal length eyepiece (giving 25x magnification). It also includes a 2x Barlow lens (giving 50x magnification) that doubles as a Galilean eyepiece so one can experience what Galileo did when he first turned a telescope to the heavens (although his telescope wasn’t optically anywhere as good as a Galileoscope!). Galileoscopes have been particularly great for engaging youngsters and students with astronomy (see picture below of a recent workshop with students) from elementary school through college, especially in Astro 101 courses. They have also been great for science teachers, astronomy clubs, and public outreach. 

Compass Academy students in Franklin, NH enjoying their Galileoscopes after assembling them in an after-school workshop! Image credit: Douglas Arion

A couple of years ago Scott Roberts and Explore Scientific took over manufacturing and distribution, greatly expanding availability of Galileoscopes. The launch and decade-long management of the project had been done with the time, effort, and personal resources Rick Fienberg and I volunteered on top of our regular positions — this kept costs low, but limited the reach and breadth of the project. Working with Explore Scientific, we’ve now created an updated Galileoscope kit package that includes a safe solar filter and sunshade. These new kits are perfect for the upcoming 2023 (annular) and 2024 (total) solar eclipses, and for observing the increasing solar activity over the next few years. Indeed, one of Galileo’s accomplishments was observing sunspots on the Sun! In addition to solar-capable Galileoscope kits, Explore Scientific also has economical tripods, as well as solar filters and sunshades as add-on accessories for those who already have Galileoscopes. The image below shows the new Galileoscope kit with the solar filter and sun shield installed.

Galileoscope telescope with safe solar filter and sunshade, on a tripod, ready for use. Image credit: Douglas Arion

Production of the new solar-capable Galileoscope kits is planned for Spring 2023 and pre-orders are needed to assure availability for distribution in summer/fall for the upcoming academic year and the two solar eclipses. Please visit the website to learn more about Galileoscope and the educational materials and support that are available. 

Galileoscopes are still the most economical, quality telescope kits out there, and with solar filters, they can now be utilized in the day as well as the night to experience the sky above us! 

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