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.
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.”
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 email@example.com and writes an astronomy/mythology blog.