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St. Louis Library Telescope Program

 153 telescopes available for checkout

Don't have a telescope in your Library? 

Have your library contact us at: librarytelescope@slasonline.org

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View our program history

Introduction

The St. Louis Library Telescope Program seeks to foster scientific literacy, stimulate an interest in astronomy and provide people who have never looked through a telescope the chance to experience the excitement that comes from discovery. The program takes advantage of the public library system infrastructure to place telescopes in local public libraries for circulation just like a book. 

The St. Louis Library Telescope Program offers two types of programs:

1) Public checkout program (131 telescopes available)

Orion StarBlast 4.5Our program for the general public to checkout a telescope like a book was launched locally in November 2014 and has proven widely popular.  St. Louis area library patrons report finding the telescopes easy to operate and are excited by the amazing views of our solar system and the stars.  We get many "wows" when viewing the "Moon" or "Saturns rings" for the first time.  Library patrons can get training on how to use the telescope from amateur astronomers at the many "star parties" held each year in area libraries. 

View our St. Louis Astronomical Society calendar of events.

The telescopes are widely disbursed in more than twenty participating St. Louis area libraries.  Several libraries have at least one telescope available in each of their branch locations.  Library patrons age eighteen-years or older with a valid library card are able to check out a telescope for seven days.  The popularity of the program means patrons may find themselves on a library "waiting list" to get the telescope.  But most find it is worth the wait. 

The St. Louis Library Telescope Program modeled its program based on a design by Marc Stowbridge and the New Hampshire Astronomical Society and uses the Orion StarBlast 4.5" Reflector Telescope as its foundation with each telescope modified by amateur astronomers to make it more patron friendly and durable.  Telescopes are equipped with accessories to help library patrons explore the night sky, including a user’s manual, constellation guide, Moon map and night light.  The New Hampshire design has proven both functional and durable.   Amateur astronomers partner closely with the libraries to provide training for their staff and assist with equipment maintenance.

 2) Exclusive "Educator" checkout program (18 telescopes available)

In 2017, the St. Louis Library Telescope Program expanded its program to make available telescopes for exclusive checkout by K-12 educators.  The historic August 21, 2017 Total Solar Eclipse was deemed an ideal time to launch this program so that students could safely view the Sun.  The initial phase of this program deployed thirteen SunSpotter Solar Telescopes into area libraries for exclusive checkout by educators as a tool to teach their students about the Sun and eclipses.  Additionally, five Orion StarBlast 4.5" Reflector telescopes were added to the program providing tools for educators to teach about the night sky.   

Orion StarBlast 4.5“Sunspotter” telescopes are instruments used exclusively for viewing the Sun. They employ a small refracting telescope and a set of mirrors to project an image of the Sun safely, onto a white screen within the telescope. Several persons can view the image at a time. The telescopes display solar surface features such as sunspots on any clear day. They will also show the progress of the Moon’s shadow on the Sun during the partial eclipse phases on August 21. The eclipse path enters the United States in Oregon, continues through several states including Missouri and Illinois, and exits the country in South Carolina before ending over the Atlantic Ocean. the country in South Carolina before ending over the Atlantic Ocean.

Similar to the general public checkout program, the educator telescope checkout period is seven days. Educators must be age eighteen-years or older with a valid library card and have identification proving they are actively employed as an educator in a public, private or parochial school.   An information package provided with each telescope contains directions about the operation of the instrument as well as instructions for several activities related to the Sun, solar eclipses and the night sky.

Availability of library telescopes by location (153 telescopes)

MISSOURI (133 telescopes)

St. Louis City-County (70 telescopes):

St. Charles County (21 telescopes)

Jefferson County (18 telescopes)

Franklin and Crawford Counties (11 telescopes)

Perry and Scott Counties (8 telescopes)

Cape Girardeau County (3 telescopes)

Ste. Genevieve County (1 telescope)

Washington County (1 telescope)

ILLINOIS (20 telescopes)

Madison County (16 telescopes):

St. Clair County (4 telescopes):

** Select telescopes set aside for exclusive checkout by teachers as part of the "Educator" checkout program.

Our Partners

The St. Louis Library Telescope Program would not be a success without the cooperation of its many partners.  The St. Louis Astronomical Society would to thank the executives, staff and patrons of St. Louis area libraries for making the St. Louis Library Telescope Program a success.  We also like to thank the New Hampshire Astronomical Society, Astronomical Society of Eastern Missouri, Illinois University Edwardsville, Jefferson College, Eastern Missouri Dark Sky Observers, River Bend Astronomy Club, Southeast Missouri State University and, of course, the generous support of members of the St. Louis Astronomical Society for making the rapid expansion of this program possible.

 

 

Help for library patrons

Download the some handy guides to get you started using the library telescope.

Quick Start Guide: Download

Observing Guide: Download


Help for educators

Are you an educator getting started with the SunSpotter Solar Telescope?  Here is help to get you started...

Read more about our program: Program Press Release


Help for library staff

How to plan star parties for your library:

Star Party Scheduling Guide: Download
 

Program Updates

Update on March 3, 2018:  We added two telescopes with one telescope going to Scenic Regional Library and the second to the Cape Girardeau Public Library.  This is a modest expansion with our focus in 2018  to raise awareness of the program with the public and performing maintenance on telescopes already in the program to ensure they are in good working order.

Update on March 31, 2017:  The St. Louis Library Telescope program added a new program offering telescopes for exclusive checkout by educators.  18 telescopes were added including 13 telescopes were Sunspotter Solar Telescopes for use in viewing the Sun and 5 telescopes were Orion StarBlast 4.5" Reflector Telescopes use in viewing the night sky. 

Press release


News Stories


 

EditRegispan class="style1">This site established February 20, 2001. This site was last updated March 28th, 2010
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