You too can be Galileo

By Daniel Holz | November 11, 2009 1:43 am

Galileo Galilei pointed a telescope at the heavens, and revolutionized our conception of Earth’s place in the Universe. Now you can do the same thing! In conjunction with the International Year of Astronomy, replicas of Galileo’s telescope are now available. galileoscopeFor the low price of $20, you can marvel at the moons circling Jupiter, be astonished by our Moon’s rugged and beautiful landscape, and admire the profound beauty of Saturn’s rings. You can also be amazed at Galileo’s genius; tracking Jupiter’s moons with one of these things is no easy task. It is to be noted that these “Galileoscopes” are actually significantly better than what Galileo was working with (e.g., with a much larger field of view, and a higher magnification [50x] eyepiece). And, according to the website, these telescopes can be put together by children in minutes. And possess fairly sophisticated features (such as achromatic lenses). But note: a tripod (not included, but the mount is compatible with any standard camera tripod) is essential (the image in the Galileoscope logo, at right, notwithstanding). Otherwise, Jupiter will be jumping all over the place, and it’ll be impossible to share your revolutionary discoveries with others.

Playing with a telescope seems like the perfect way to wind down the Year of Astronomy. And they make very nice gifts (although December delivery is apparently not guaranteed). If you’ve never looked through a half-decent telescope, you will be absolutely astounded by what you see. One forgets that all these things we talk about and see pictures of really exist up there, and are just waiting to be admired!

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Science and Society, Space
  • Megzor

    The simple act of looking through a telescope can make a big impact. In a panel called “Do we still believe in science?” http://www.q2cfestival.com/play.php?lecture_id=8015 journalist Natalie Angier suggested that playing with a telescope can peak curiosity, promote an amateur interest in science and can “bring people into the world of discovery,” ultimately encouraging and helping more people to understand and study science.

  • http://www.eso.org/public/outreach/press-rel/pr-2009/pr-38-09.html Ken

    Daniel,

    Isn’t this a little…i don’t know…LATE?
    They have been available all year long (I have now ordered 5 total – 1 for myself and 4 as gifts for friends who expressed interest via “funny faces made when viewing through my 10″ SCT).

    As far as i know, they’ll stop selling them at the end of the year…so i guess it’s good to plug it before the end…but with only a month and a half left, I hope more people jump onto the wagon!

    The only problem with the “G’Scope” is that your arm tends to get tired. A good cheap tripod is in order (and there are quite a few available out there from online stores as well).

    I personally recommend taking a small knife, and after attaining optimal focus on the moon, make a little notch on the plastic body of the scope. This will save time trying to get the moon into focus. Either that, or use little label-maker tape strips, to set the focus position for various eyepieces, etc!

  • http://www.flamencoandarabicpop.com Adam Solomon

    We too can be Galileo? Don’t fuel the cranks! As Sean said, “You are not Galileo. Honestly, you’re not. Dude, seriously.” (http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/2007/06/19/the-alternative-science-respectability-checklist/)

  • Chaz

    Thanks for this, Daniel! I’m ordering a bunch of ‘scopes for my friends (and myself).

  • coolstar

    In fact, the note I just got from the AAS said a Galileoscope ordered now probably wouldn’t arrive before January (they’ve apparently shipped about 100,000 so far). A good alternative is the Celestron Firstscope (also an official IYA2009 product). It’s a 3 inch diameter, rich-field Newtonian for about $45-50. Better yet would be BOTH of these as the Firstscope comes with much worse eyepieces than the Galileoscope.

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