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Education Space

One Telescope Per Child 63

An anonymous reader writes "It seems one-<object>-per-child goes beyond laptops. A project from the International Astronomical Union (IAU) has designed a high-quality, $20 telescope they're calling the Galileoscope, hoping to spark interest in astronomy among kids and make good scopes available to many who otherwise could not afford one. But as OLPC learned, it's not that easy; they are struggling to get enough volume to get production ramped up and costs down, resorting to tricks like auctioning off a few autographed ones, and trying Give-One-Get-One."
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Galileoscope: One Telescope Per Child

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  • I'll take two, and give one to my daughter.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm so sorry I said that.
  • by tylerni7 ( 944579 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @08:42PM (#29524163) Homepage
    An interesting benefit in living in poorer countries is that there is far less light pollution.
    Maybe they could make these even cheaper by making some of the optics smaller (reducing the aperture), since something good enough to see Saturn's rings in rural America should be far more capable in an area with almost zero light pollution, like rural Africa.
    • since something good enough to see Saturn's rings

      Don't bet on it. First of all you're going to need a stable tripod, probably costing as much as the telescope itself. Even at best you will end up seeing an oval blur unless you start using 6+ inch for a refractive telescope.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by tylerni7 ( 944579 )
        It says in the article that one of the project goals was to be able to see Saturn's rings, and I know personally that one can see Saturn's rings with a fairly small telescope.
        (Of course it depends on the orientation of Saturn and its rings, but assuming they are ideally situated, I don't see why someone wouldn't be able to see its rings, although IANAA)
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Nyeerrmm ( 940927 )
        On its closest approach, Saturn is about 7 AU away. The diameter of its rings are about 360,000 km. Doing the math, this means that best case scenario, the angular size of Saturn including its rings is around 1 arcminute. The 2-inch diameter Galileoscope has a diffraction limited angular resolution of 0.05 arcminutes. The gap between the rings and the planet (around 6000 km) is going to be about 0.02 arcminutes. This is all large enough we can safely ignore atmospheric seeing.

        So basically this scope
        • I bought the Celestron's FirstScope just a few days ago. Tough it's more expensive than Galileoscope, I would say it worth the extra.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Omestes ( 471991 )

          I've actually used one of these; A tripod isn't strictly necessary. With the 50x lens combination (combining the 20x and 30x) I could see Jupiter's moons without the assistance of a tripod, though sighting it was a bit "odd" using the built in rifle sights. I couldn't test it on Saturn, thanks to bad weather and light pollution.

          This was at my fathers, so I didn't have my usual $70 photography tripod around, but he had one that was around $14.99 at Fry's Electronics, which worked fine with the Galileoscop

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Beowabbit ( 306889 )

        First of all you're going to need a stable tripod, probably costing as much as the telescope itself.

        It's designed to work with a camera tripod, which works well since it's so light. But the other night I was able to get a pretty good (if very small) view of Jupiter and a couple of its larger moons just bracing my elbows on a porch railing. When Saturn's inclination with respect to the earth is such that its rings are easy to see (not the case right now), I'm sure you'll be able to see them (meaning see th

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Omestes ( 471991 )

        My Dad bought one of these for $20 for the Galileo anniversary, they only go up to around 50x (by combining the 30x and 20x lenses), so a tripod isn't really necessary being that these are about as powerful as cheap binoculars. The 50x combination, though, has a VERY small angle of view though, meaning it might necessitate a tripod, the 20x and 30x lenses, though, probably won't need one. Without using a tripod, I managed to observe 2 of Jupiter's moons, with a largish amount of light pollution, without t

        • Wait a second... Where are you getting a 20x and 30x eyepiece from? It has the parts to make a 20mm eyepiece that gives you 25x with the focal length (500mm) and a 2x baralow which makes the eyepiece function as if it was 10mm or you had a 1000mm focal length telescope depending on how you see it. Then the 18x correct view eyepiece is another configuration.
    • by kmac06 ( 608921 )
      I think they're more concerned with getting enough food, water, and shelter in rural Africa to worry about seeing Saturn's rings. I would hardly call that a net "benefit".
      • by Omestes ( 471991 )

        Food and water are important, at least as far as short term survival goes. Education is MORE beneficial in the long term. That is the large problem with developing nations, you can feed them, and throw money at them until your blue in the face, and you never approach the long term problems that cause the problems.

        As someone here on /. once said (sorry for the vague attribution, and general butchery, whoever you are); "give a man a fire and you keep him warm for the night; set him on fire and he's warm for

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by herojig ( 1625143 )

        Here in rural Nepal, we would use the telescope to see when ama was going to get up the hill with fresh water, or dada was returning from the hilltop with a bit of fresh meat. A similar thing is happening with the $200 netbook project, they are becoming the village telephone and whatnot when the power goes out for the mandatory 6 hours or so. But this is not to say that new low-cost educational tech is not useful or not needed more then fresh water, sanitation, shelter, and food. The low cost cell phone mic

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) *

      I'm thinking One Pocketknife Per Child.

      Telescope? How many bags of rice can you trade a telescope for?

      Sometimes, I get the impression that these do-gooders have never left their own neighborhood.

      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        One AK per child. No, wait, someone already thought of that.

        One rice kernel per child? Mao done that already.

        Seriously, I believe you are right about never leaving their neighborhood. Not that hard to go out and see true hunger. Got to step outside the tourist trail, but not far.

      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        China has a one child per child project. But only half of them get one.

    • I live in London I don't think the kids round here even know what stars are!
    • by Alef ( 605149 )
      Here is a map [] showing the amount of light pollution. Notice that you can find pretty dark areas in some rich countries as well, including about half of USA. (The next darkest colour in the map means you can still see the Triangulum Galaxy [] easily with the naked eye.)
  • Given that most of us watch real life only through keyholes and telescopes... :o)


  • A direct link (Score:4, Informative)

    by dakameleon ( 1126377 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @08:43PM (#29524171)

    A direct link to the Galileoscope project site [] would be great, wouldn't you think?

  • Noble intentions indeed.
    Call me a skeptic, but when you can get a basic refractive telescope plus tripod (which will easily cost more than the scope itself) for under $40 I'm not exactly enthusiastic about this. And when kids find out that all they can do is look at the moon and get headaches, they'll learn one thing: Astronomy without super-expensive equipment is boring.

    • by Colonel Korn ( 1258968 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @08:58PM (#29524263)

      Noble intentions indeed.
      Call me a skeptic, but when you can get a basic refractive telescope plus tripod (which will easily cost more than the scope itself) for under $40 I'm not exactly enthusiastic about this. And when kids find out that all they can do is look at the moon and get headaches, they'll learn one thing: Astronomy without super-expensive equipment is boring.

      Even with only your eyes and the night sky, astronomy isn't boring. It requires effort, however. Sure, most kids may not care about the sky. But like most interests, it becomes more engrossing as more effort is put into it. Go outside at midnight every night, sit on a roof, and sketch the sky. Learn the names of the things you can see, figure out when they'll be where, watch the planets move, look up notable events like meteor showers.

      Now go buy a good pair of 10x50 binoculars. Look at the Orion Nebula. It's easy to find and it's cool. Now go looking for Messier objects. Andromeda's a good choice - it's quite visible in binos even in a city like San Jose on the right night, but it takes a little effort to find at first. Work your way to more difficult objects. Learn what they are. Learn what they do.

      There's as much to keep you, or a kid, entertained in astronomy as there is in anything else. It just takes some effort, and after the night sky sketching it will likely be fun all the way. Or it may not be for you, but it doesn't hurt to try.

      • "Now go looking for Messier objects"

        That's exactly what I did, and that's how I got into your girlfriend's room. She's tired of you sitting on the goddamned roof, staring at the stars. Now, get your ass down from there, will you? I can't service ALL the women around here by myself! And, just LOOK at her ROOM!!! It's a MESS, just like you said. Satisfied women don't live like this!

      • by eh2o ( 471262 )

        Astronomy being a science of very-remote observation might not be so great for kids... direct interaction with the environment is an important factor in early education. The idea might be exciting to them, but the technical reality of all the physics is rather intricate. Now, actual telescope hacking would be great fun, but its a bit advanced technically for primary education. Lots of modern astronomy is done with automated telescopes and statistical/computational image analysis to find interesting obje

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by tunapez ( 1161697 )

        Don't forget the impending moon impact in a couple weeks, lunar eclipses, passes of the space station. How many stars can be seen in the Pleiades Constellation? (there's more than 7 sisters)

        What really changed my attitude when I was younger was to visualize the sky not as a 2 dimensional canvas with bears and dippers, but in the third dimension by imagining the distance variations between the brighter and smaller stars. Judging distance by size/luminosity proved to be inaccurate, but it was good for a start

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        True. I would probably say though that Astronomy without a telescope is more interesting than with one. You can learn the constellations and see how the planets move across them. Or how meteor showers originate from the same patch of sky. Or viewing predicted transits or man-made satellites. With a telescope you try to concentrate too much on how good you see something rather than what you're seeing.

    • I wouldn't be so sure. I remember when I was little my family was pretty poor, and I used to spend all my time reading (the only tv we had was an old black and white tv with dials and bad reception. This was 1995 mind you...)

      My dad bought me a really cheap telescope which is really crappy by the standards of the Galileoscope and I still managed to enjoy it. You could see Saturn and Jupiter decently well enough to just barely make out some of their moons, and seeing the amount of detail on Earth's moon wa
      • Did your dad show you how to use it and help develop your interest in it, or did he just throw it at you and say go to town?

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Noble intentions indeed.
      Call me a skeptic, but when you can get a basic refractive telescope plus tripod (which will easily cost more than the scope itself) for under $40 I'm not exactly enthusiastic about this. And when kids find out that all they can do is look at the moon and get headaches, they'll learn one thing: Astronomy without super-expensive equipment is boring.

      I bought one of these telescopes and the optics are amazing for the price. It doesn't come with a tripod (you have to supply one, but it's compatible with virtually any camera tripod so at least they can be found on the cheap if you don't have one), which I'm sure is why the cost is so low (back when I got mine, they were only $15 USD, the price increase to $20 came later).

      When I first set mine up I tried to observe the moon from my backyard. I was quite worried about light pollution ruining observations of

  • I just got mine last weekend and they are very cool little telescopes. Although the day after I got it we have had clouds almost all night every night, so no star gazing for me...
  • Sorry Negroponte, you aren't gonna get your ass out of the mess you created by sending telescopes to African countries. Erm. Maybe I should RTFA.
  • I've used one (Score:3, Informative)

    by abarrow ( 117740 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @09:39PM (#29524501) Homepage

    A buddy brought one of these on our last backpacking trip. Nice an light, and surprisingly good for something with plastic optics. A couple of words of warning: the images are inverted, so they are great for looking at the sky but not as good for spying on your fellow backpackers. Also, the focus is a simple slide, so it's tough to get a good focus without moving the scope around. I can see how a kid might grow impatient with those faults. You are going to want to put this on a secure tripod - they aren't so good holding in your hands.

    Aside from that, I agree that this is something that every kid should have. Perhaps it will get them outside looking at the sky instead of inside immersed in some FPS game.

  • Im curios how it would compare to something like this that is the same price range more or less

    • by cyn1c77 ( 928549 )

      The Walmart one would probably show horrible images under any magnification. The key giveaway is that they don't list the type of lens in the ad (apo, acromatic... etc). That, coupled with the cost means that it is most likely a single lens, which will show a lot of false color under magnification.

      What is nice about this Galileoscope, is that it has been designed by astronomers to provide they best image they can provide in a price range, at the expense of niceties like a tripod, metal construction, a fi

      • by Omestes ( 471991 )

        Its like a math teacher I had in high school, who responded to someone asking why we needed to know this when all the math most of us need is balancing our checkbook and cooking; "I'm not teaching this class for all of you, I'm teaching this class for the one individual here who will get the spark of interest and change the world. Sadly you won't know if this is you until your older." All this needs to do is ignite the interests of 2-3% of the people who get them, to make a difference, if it happens then

  • The abstract misses the fact that the Galileoscope is a reproduction similar in image quality to the one Galileo himself used.

  • One for me, one for each of my nieces. Hopefully they'll arrive by christmas.

    At this price, you can afford to buy them even if they might end up going unused. Why not test it out? You might like it.

  • "Every child should have health insurance..." Okay, we all need to be healthy to live and children should not be penalized for their parent's ineptitude. Well, in fact if the parents are inept, the children are penalized in many ways already but let's try to make it easier.

    "One laptop per child...." Computer literacy is an essential part of modern life. Rare is the job in which someone does not have to use a computer at one point or another. Computers are versatile so the child can use it to write stor

    • So? Yes, it's probable that this money could be spent on more vital projects but the odds are it wouldn't be. This will attract science geek to put in their U$20 instead of buying lunch out, or whatever. We all know Sally Struthers is out there collecting money to fight hunger, and are already donating as much, or little, to that as we choose. I doubt strongly that this project is going to have any measurable impact on basic necessities projects.

      It can, however, get cheap, decent scopes in the hands of

  • Have you priced decent telescopes? I am sure these probably are not too much better than the $50 ones at Wal-Mart, but shoot, I would be willing to plop down $100 to get me one and buy 4 kids one. That is something cheap and practical, and as other people mentioned, in poorer countries with less light polution, this is like the perfect gift. Well, that and food, but I already sponser hungry children and bag food.

  • I am an amateur astronomer and bought one of these for my 12-year-old daughter's birthday. I thought it would be a fun daddy-daughter project putting it together and that it would be a good first telescope for her. I got it before they raised the price recently, so mine was around $23 shipped.

    Here is my honest review of the scope and my buying experience. It took about two months longer than they said for it to arrive and their communication was non-existent. I was billed but never got a shipping notific
  • ... after Bad Astronomer pimped them a bit. Good cause, all that.

    They're decent enough scopes, and VERY good for the price.

    The delivery time is atrocious, however. I think mine took around 3-4 months to arrive. As cheap as they were, I'd about written them off as a scam.

"If you lived today as if it were your last, you'd buy up a box of rockets and fire them all off, wouldn't you?" -- Garrison Keillor