Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Last June I posted a little bit about the Galileoscope that was unveiled at the Astronomical Society of the Pacific meeting. I am happy to announce that the Galileoscopes are finally ready to order.

It is no exaggeration to say that the telescope changed everything: Galileo's discoveries literally revolutionized our perception of the universe and Earth's place in it.

The Galileoscope is a perfect way for many, many people to participate in recreating one of the major events in the history of science - Galileo's observations through his small telescope. After all, anyone with a telescope can see what Galileo saw.

But not everyone has a telescope, especially in less developed parts of the world. To enable more people in more places to personally experience the wonders of the universe, we've developed a remarkably inexpensive, very-high-quality, easy-to-use refractor. With this new instrument, called the Galileoscope, children and adults can learn how telescopes work and repeat for themselves the spectacular observations made by Galileo beginning in 1609. (Here's a detailed description of the telescope.)

The Galileoscope comes as a kit with simple instructions for no-tools assembly in 5 minutes or less. Its achromatic optics include a 50-mm-diameter objective lens of focal length 500 mm, an eyepiece of focal length 20 mm (magnification 25x), and a 2x Barlow lens (yielding 50x when used with the supplied eyepiece). The Galileoscope accepts almost any optical accessory that has a standard 1¼-inch (31¾-mm) barrel, and it attaches to virtually every tripod made or distributed anywhere in the world. (A tripod is not included with the kit; you'll have to supply your own.) You get all this for just U.S. $15 each plus shipping, or U.S. $12.50 each plus shipping for orders of 100 or more.

That's right, $15 (plus shipping) will get you or your favorite kid a telescope that is actually better than the one Galileo used to change our perception of the universe. Not bad.

We'll soon be ordering a bunch of these at Palomar for some educational programs that we'll be running.

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