St. Louis Library Telescope Program
149 telescopes available for checkout
Don't have a telescope in your Library?
Have your library contact us at:
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. One
program The St. Louis Library Telescope Program offers two types of programs.
One program makes telescopes available for checkout by the general public.
Our second program and newest venture makes available telescopes for exclusive
checkout by educators.
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
our list of participating libraries and program history/funding sources
The St. Louis Library Telescope Program modeled its program based on a design by
Marc Stowbridge and the New Hampshire
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
Telescopes for "educator" checkout (18 telescopes available)
Effective April 18, 2017, the St. Louis Library Telescope Program is expanding to
make available telescopes for exclusive checkout by K-12 educators. With
August 21, 2017 Total
Solar Eclipse just around the corner, the initial phase of this program will
SunSpotter Solar Telescopes available to local educators as a tool to teach
their students about the Sun and eclipses. A second phase will add five
Orion StarBlast 4.5" Reflector telescopes to the program providing tools for
educators to teach about the night sky.
“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 telescope checkout period
will be seven days. Library patrons 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.
Participating libraries in the educator
checkout program include:
Funding for the thirteen
SunSpotter Solar Telescopes was provided by the
Steinheider Duncombe Mini-Grants Program of the American Astronomical
Society Solar Eclipse Task Force, with support from the National Science
Foundation. Only thirty-one proposals were funded nationwide. The Duncombe
Mini-Grants are intended to inform and engage the public with the solar eclipse
of August 21, 2017. An additional telescope was donated by the
Astronomical Society of Eastern Missouri for circulation in the Saint
Funding for five
Orion StarBlast 4.5" Reflector
telescopes was from the St. Louis Astronomical Society (four telescopes) and the
Astronomical Society of
(one telescope). The telescopes are modified in manner similar to the same
model used for the public checkout program with some variations to make the
telescope more suitable for classroom use by educators.
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
New Hampshire Astronomical
Astronomical Society of
Illinois University Edwardsville,
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.