Galileoscope update

By Phil Plait | March 25, 2009 2:49 pm

I’ve been getting some mail from folks who are a little unhappy with the customer service when they’ve ordered Galileoscopes — a big effort by IYA to get good but inexpensive telescopes into the hands of people across the globe. The IYA just posted about this: basically, it’s being run by a very small group of volunteers who have been a bit (well, a lot) overwhelmed with the response. They assure us the ‘scopes will be shipped in late April.

Galileoscope

That’s good news! I’m very excited to get mine — as I wrote earlier, I think it might be able to show the ISS as an extended body, and not just a point of light. How cool would that be?

CATEGORIZED UNDER: IYA

Comments (31)

Links to this Post

  1. » Galileoscope | March 25, 2009
  1. Colin J

    Already hear that some have been ordered by teachers in my district, so the kiddies can get a look at the sky! Yay!

  2. Shadow

    I ordered one early on but had a problem with the mailing address, part of the address I put into paypal came out as “unknown” on my confirmation email…
    I understand that they are really busy but it worries me because they haven’t gotten back in 3 weeks to let me know the address has been corrected, or cancel my order so I can try and put down another order with the right address. Hopefully come end of April my galileoscope won’t be sent to an “unknown” address!

  3. Don’t be hard on VOLUNTEERS folks. What these folks are doing is noble and worthwhile. I can’t wait to get mine, along with whoever the random recipients may be.

  4. João

    Well, I was a bit disappointed as well. I bought one as soon as I read your post, received the confirmation e-mail and my credit card was charged. I was expecting to recieve it anyday now, but hélas, I’ll have to wait until late April or even May.
    Well, I suppose if I waited 40 years to have a telescope I guess I can wait two more months…

  5. Davidlpf

    Don’t get too testy people you will get them soon enough.

  6. Justin Higinbotham

    Just ordered one for my brother’s upcoming birthday :)
    Everything went smoothly, will ship end of April – thanks for alerting us all to this Phil.

  7. When I place my order a couple weeks or so ago, they clearly indicated in the various web pages that the orders would begin to ship in April. I’m not expecting mine right away, I’m sure I was well into the group that began ordering as soon as the web page for ordering was open.

    So if they begin shipping at the end of April, that means those of us that weren’t the very first to order will likely find our orders shipping beginning well into May. I read all the pages at their site and it is clear they are almost all volunteers and that they are all quite busy and overwhelmed.

    I commend the idea and the effort. I’m looking forward to receiving mine, when ever it arrives.

    John B. Sandlin

  8. Dang. This has been messing with me. Here at Princeton I am reading a sampling of Galileo’s original works and wanted to accompany the experience with the telescope. I was wondering when the heck it would show up.

  9. Thanks for posting this, Phil!

    The folks that have put together the Galileoscope project — Steven, Rick, Doug, Stephanie, and the rest — are to be congratulated for getting this project out to the public.

    As the co-lead for one of the other IYA cornerstone projects, I can assure your readers that most of the projects that are taking place this year were developed and run by very small teams of dedicated volunteers. For example, the Great World Wide Star Count, a citizen science project to measure light pollution, is produced by a team of three here at NCAR in Boulder (myself, along with two of the best colleagues anyone could hope for!).

    Cheers,

    Dennis Ward
    http://www.windows.ucar.edu
    http://starcount.org

  10. KC

    Ah yeah well I know they are volunteers but by the time most of us get our telescopes, IYA will be nearly half over.

  11. Thanks for posting this, Phil! The folks that have put together the Galileoscope project — Steven, Rick, Doug, Stephanie, and the rest — are to be congratulated for getting this project out to the public.

    As the co-lead for one of the other IYA cornerstone projects, I can assure your readers that most of the projects that are taking place this year were developed and run by very small teams of dedicated volunteers. For example, the Great World Wide Star Count, a citizen science project to measure light pollution, is produced by a team of three here at NCAR in Boulder (myself, along with two of the best colleagues anyone could hope for!).

  12. kvenlander

    Thanks for the reminder! I put in my order for get 2 give 2. Hope they get here by my kids’ birthdays in May…

    Thanks for everyone involved in this project, your work is very much appreciated.

  13. I’d forgotten about this.
    Just ordered a couple now.
    Thanks for re-posting this Phil.

  14. I’ve just ordered mine, thanks for spreading the word about it. I don’t really care when it arrives and I’m not one to complain (because I’m British).

  15. But if we buy one of these, won’t we be persecuted by the church?

  16. pete

    $14.80 shipping to Europe, ouch!

  17. David D

    Actually, Galileo was never persecuted or tortured by the Church.

    Many people wrongly believe Galileo proved heliocentricity. He could not answer the strongest argument against it, which had been made nearly two thousand years earlier by Aristotle: If heliocentrism were true, then there would be observable parallax shifts in the stars’ positions as the earth moved in its orbit around the sun. However, given the technology of Galileo’s time, no such shifts in their positions could be observed. It would require more sensitive measuring equipment than was available in Galileo’s day to document the existence of these shifts, given the stars’ great distance. Until then, the available evidence suggested that the stars were fixed in their positions relative to the earth, and, thus, that the earth and the stars were not moving in space—only the sun, moon, and planets were.

    Thus Galileo did not prove the theory by the Aristotelian standards of science in his day. In his Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina and other documents, Galileo claimed that the Copernican theory had the “sensible demonstrations” needed according to Aristotelian science, but most knew that such demonstrations were not yet forthcoming. Most astronomers in that day were not convinced of the great distance of the stars that the Copernican theory required to account for the absence of observable parallax shifts. This is one of the main reasons why the respected astronomer Tycho Brahe refused to adopt Copernicus fully.

    Galileo could have safely proposed heliocentricity as a theory or a method to more simply account for the planets’ motions. His problem arose when he stopped proposing it as a scientific theory and began proclaiming it as truth, though there was no conclusive proof of it at the time. Even so, Galileo would not have been in so much trouble if he had chosen to stay within the realm of science and out of the realm of theology. But, despite his friends’ warnings, he insisted on moving the debate onto theological grounds. During this period, personal interpretation of Scripture was a sensitive subject. In the early 1600s, the Church had just been through the Reformation experience, and one of the chief quarrels with Protestants was over individual interpretation of the Bible.

    When Galileo met with the new pope, Urban VIII, in 1623, he received permission from his longtime friend to write a work on heliocentrism, but the new pontiff cautioned him not to advocate the new position, only to present arguments for and against it. When Galileo wrote the Dialogue on the Two World Systems, he used an argument the pope had offered, and placed it in the mouth of his character Simplicio. Galileo, perhaps inadvertently, made fun of the pope, a result that could only have disastrous consequences.

    In the end, Galileo recanted his heliocentric teachings, but it was not—as is commonly supposed—under torture nor after a harsh imprison- ment.

  18. Jason

    I get that they’re volunteers, but I also don’t see that as much of an excuse. The whole point of this program was to get people to buy the telescopes and thus rekindle interest in backyard astronomy! How could they not expect to get e-mails? How could they put a form on the web that didn’t even work right?

    I’ve been waiting since Phil’s post to find out if my order even succeeded — I have an confirmation e-mail, but the web site said (paraphrasing) “congratulations, your transaction succeeded! (Transaction failed.)” and my card hasn’t been charged. I know they’re not fulfilling orders for a while, but at least telling me if the damn thing worked isn’t too far out of the question, is it?

  19. Savino

    Lugosi Says:
    March 26th, 2009 at 4:09 am

    But if we buy one of these, won’t we be persecuted by the church?

    HyperLol!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Maybe I should cancel my order!!!!!

  20. Starting to look like they might not be able to honor all of the orders. How embarrassing would that be?

  21. DaveR

    @David D
    [citation needed]

  22. Let’s say they don’t honor all the orders. I ordered one and want to get it but if mine goes to a school kid and said kid gets interested in astronomy then I consider it money well spent.

  23. David D

    @DaveR

    Check out Galileo’s Daughter by Dava Sobel.

    Try catholic.com/library/Galileo_Controversy.asp. Admittedly pro-Catholic, but I can’t find fault with their history on this issue.

    My point is not that the Catholic church hasn’t taken wrong stands on a variety of issues, but that the story behind Galileo’s “persecution” is a lot more nuanced and complicated (and incorrect) than what most people are aware of.

  24. The Mad LOLScientist, FCD

    ROFLmeow! Lugosi is win teh Innert00bz 2dai! =^..^=

    IIRC, Galileo was under house arrest for quite a while, but it was more because he made fun of the Pope that anything. The man did have an @$$ full of attitude.

    @David D – I agree, Galileo’s Daughter is a terrific book.

    I’ll bet the Galileoscope folks have been absolutely SLAMMED with orders. They already have my $15 – I figure it will get here when it gets here. (My BFF says, “Why do you need one? There’s no windows around here to look into!”) The weather’s too lousy here to see anything anyway this time of year… I’m still waiting for a chance to see the ISS in all its glory. Now with more solar-panel-y goodness! It’s supposed to pass almost straight over us (estimated mag -2.4 – w00t!) on Monday evening. In the mean time – big green hairy amoeba on the radar, heading this way. Hope it quits raining before then… we’ll see.

  25. The Mad LOLScientist, FCD

    Oops – than anything. So much for proofreading. :-

  26. WJM

    I already see an extended structure! Point of light, schmoint of light.

  27. The Galileoscope team just sent an email to the people who have ordered. The good news is that they are still on schedule to ship in late April. The email answers a few questions about why some people didn’t get email confirmations. The email is posted on their website at https://www.galileoscope.org/gs/content/important-notice-our-customers

    I am one of the people who has been testing prototypes as they become available. The optics are good. I was pleasantly surprised how easy the rings of Saturn are, even at 25x and almost edge on.

  28. The Mad LOLScientist, FCD

    Thanks, hale_bopp! Can’t wait to get my hot little hands on one of these puppies!

  29. Robert Carnegie

    This is what bugged me – old news but in reruns – in [The West Wing] plot line about an ISS air supply problem (leak) and maybe launching the secret military space shuttle to rescue the crew, thus revealing that the secret military shuttle exists. Zillions of AMATEURS can see space shuttle launches. They can see the ISS. I’ve seen cute amateur images of ISS with the (real) shuttle docked. There -are- U.S. military space launches (duh) and they are secret, but if you only point a ‘scope up in the sky, you can see where the thing is going to, maybe not why.

    Likewise the Moon landings, except that maybe you do need national government funding to track a Moon capsule in the 1960s. But a lot of people watching, some unfriendly, with sensitive equipment, could and would have told the world if the mission wasn’t really happening. Unless they were ALL IN ON IT. But getting men to the Moon was easy compared to getting that kind of cooperation – unless you believe that the UNITED NaTIONS is run by HYPNOTIC SPACE LIZARDS who CONTROL WORLD LEADERS. (I don’t. Really I don’t. I hope I got away with it, planted a seed of thought… Really. No. But, keep up the good work, Sirs.)

  30. KFromCanada

    I’m really excited about this, and I’m very VERY understanding about the volunteer aspect. However, I also empathize with those who are frustrated or concerned. I’m quite worried right now as my order showed me that my credit card didn’t work (no reason why it shouldn’t, except that I’m from Canada so maybe it’s their international issues again?) AND it gave me an order number and a receipt…. sooo… I don’t know if I have an order or not? Did everyone’s payments go through on their credit cards right away if they did work? I e-mailed them but I’m not anticipating an answer any time soon, from what I’ve been reading. If it was just my personal order I could handle getting two by accident, but it’s a group order for 25 and I can’t really swallow double the charges and shipping for that… For the same reasons I don’t really want to find out the order DIDN’T go through and have everyone miss out.

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