“The treasures hidden in the heavens are so rich that the human mind shall never be lacking in fresh nourishment.” – Johannes Kepler (1571-1630)
Cornerstones of Science and Maine Library partners announce a new program to introduce astronomy and the wonders of the night sky through hands-on telescope viewing. Cornerstones of Science will provide to partner libraries, quality, easy-to use telescopes that can be checked out and take home by library users. The Library STAR program, or Sharing Telescopes and Astronomy Resources, will be piloted in 3 Maine libraries this spring, Portland Public Library, Curtis Memorial in Brunswick, and Raymond Village Library. By early summer, up to 18 public libraries will be equipped with telescopes for night sky viewing, and to celebrate the Maine Starlight Festival in September.
To match libraries with astronomy experts, Cornerstones of Science has partnered with Southern Maine Astronomers, an amateur astronomy club which meets monthly at the University of Southern Maine. Ron Thompson, an amateur astronomer and Yarmouth resident, has volunteered to help launch the effort by offering introductory presentations and hands-on training. Currently scheduled ”Meet Galilieo – the new telescope” presentations include:
• Portland Public Library: March 23, 2-3 pm; and April 17, 1–2 pm
• Curtis Memorial Library: April 19, 6:30-7:30 m
• Raymond Village Library: week of April 15-20, tba
The Library Telescope program is considered a gateway to learning more astronomy and to lead people to seek out more information at their local library, planetarium/observatory or university. The take-home telescope program also engages families and communities across many generations and interests. The program also will serve to stimulate interest in science, engineering and math by encouraging self-directed discovery and research. Another integral goal is to introduce families and individuals to the night sky; one of Maine’s natural – and due to light pollution – increasingly vulnerable resources.
“The night sky has always been a source of wonder, inspiration and awe, for as long as human beings have walked the earth. Providing free access to simple telescopes at libraries will make astronomy accessible to everyone and inspire people to want to learn more.” explains Cornerstones of Science founder and president, Dr. Lee Grodzins, physicist, MIT Professor Emeritus, Guggenheim Fellow and co-founder of the Union of Concerned Scientists. The Maine library telescope initiative is modeled after the program developed by Marc Stowbridge of the New Hampshire Astronomical Society.
Susan Ryan, firstname.lastname@example.org, 207-208-8975