Galileoscopes: Special-Edition IYL 2015

This article was written by Rick Fienberg (American Astronomical Society) & Douglas Arion (Carthage College) for the Galileoscope project, developed as a cornerstone project of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA 2009)

We are excited to announce that we are now accepting pre-orders for special-edition Galileoscopes for the International Year of Light 2015 at Deliveries will commence in May.

The Galileoscope, originally developed as a cornerstone project of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA 2009), solved a long-standing problem: the lack of an optically excellent but inexpensive telescope kit suitable for both optics education and celestial observation. In the process of assembling the kit, students explore fundamental optical concepts such as how lenses form images. Then, with their completed 50-mm (2-inch) diameter, 25- to 50-power achromatic refractor — which attaches to any standard photo tripod — they enjoy sharp views of lunar craters and mountains, Jupiter’s moons, Saturn’s rings, the phases of Venus, and other bright celestial objects. The kit is augmented with free, standards-based optics-education and observing activities, available in multiple languages. These well-tested activities can be used by classroom and after-school teachers as well as informal educators to provide a rigorous approach to teaching science and the process of science.

Since 2009 the Galileoscope has been featured in professional-development workshops for educators throughout the world. Among organizations routinely incorporating Galileoscopes into their teacher training are the US National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO), the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, and the Galileo Teacher Training Program (another IYA 2009 cornerstone project). With NOAO we’ve established a program of workshops for educators ( that can be carried out virtually anywhere, at nominal cost to the host institution.

Remarkably for an effort managed 100% by volunteers, some 225,000 Galileoscopes have been distributed to teachers, students, and astronomy enthusiasts in more than 100 countries over the last six years. Nearly 25,000 Galileoscopes have been distributed through our Telescopes4Teachers program, through which individual and institutional donors contributed kits at little or no cost to classroom teachers or school administrators. We’re thrilled that the Galileoscope has been designated part of the International Year of Light’s “Cosmic Light” cornerstone project. Cosmic Light is being coordinated by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), the lead organizer of IYA 2009, which celebrated the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s introduction of the telescope to astronomy. Emphasizing both optics and astronomy, the Galileoscope supports three of IYL 2015’s main themes: Science of Light, Light Technology, and Light in Nature.

For IYL 2015 we’ve expanded the Telescopes4Teachers donation program to attract corporate as well as individual and institutional sponsors to help us reach our goal of distributing another 100,000 Galileoscopes to teachers and schools worldwide. A Galileoscope sponsorship is a great way to support science education while also promoting an organization’s products and services. We offer custom packaging; promotional inserts, stickers, and labels; and worldwide visibility to individuals and organizations that support the distribution of thousands of kits. Please inform any potential sponsors with whom you may come in contact — scientific organizations, educational institutions, individuals, and corporations — about this opportunity. For more information on Galileoscope sponsorships for IYL 2015, please contact (or refer potential supporters to) Doug Arion, president of Galileoscope, LLC, at and/or Rick Fienberg, vice-president, at

We are delighted to report that Ric and Jean Edelman, the founders of Edelman Financial Services, have signed on as our first IYL 2015 sponsor. They are underwriting the production of 10,000 kits in special packaging. When these Edelman Galileoscopes arrive from our factory this spring, US teachers will have the opportunity to request them for their classrooms. Ric Edelman will promote their availability via his biweekly radio program, The Truth About Money (

In addition to the 10,000 Edelman Galileoscopes, 20,000 special-edition IYL 2015 Galileoscope kits are currently in production for worldwide distribution and will be ready for delivery starting in May. We are now accepting pre-orders via our website ( A case of six (6) Galileoscopes costs US $150 (US $25/kit) plus shipping; please note that this is our lowest (wholesale) price.

Shouldn’t every student and teacher have access to a telescope and the celestial wonders it reveals, as well as the opportunity to explore the fascinating interplay of light and optics? We think so, and we know you do too. Please help us celebrate the International Year of Light by pre-ordering Galileoscopes today for use in your education and outreach programs and helping to find sponsors to underwrite the distribution of Galileoscopes to classrooms. Let there be Cosmic Light!




The Galileoscope telescope kit with its new IYL 2015 packaging. Photo by Rick Fienberg.
The Galileoscope telescope kit with its new IYL 2015 packaging. Photo by Rick Fienberg.