CALS Expands Telescope Lending Program, Plans Educational Series

The Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) has purchased new telescopes for the CALS Telescope Program with funds from an Arkansas Space Grant Consortium grant and the assistance of our partner for this program, the Central Arkansas Astronomical Society (CAAS). There are now 30 telescopes available for CALS patrons to borrow. Thanks to the partnership with CAAS, patrons will also have opportunities in January to learn about astronomy and the telescope program.d

The telescopes are 4.5” Orion StarBlast Newtonian instruments and will gather several hundred times more light than the unaided eye and magnify up to 56 times.  These small, portable scopes are particularly suited to observing the moon and the brighter planets, such as Saturn, Jupiter, and under proper conditions some “deep sky” objects can be observed as well, such as star clusters.

The CALS Telescope Program began in 2016 when CAAS helped CALS procure funding for the program from the Arkansas Space Grant Consortium and then modified the original collection of 16 telescopes for public use. Since that time hundreds of CALS patrons have participated in the program, checking out telescopes to take home and attending educational events to learn about the night sky.

CALS and CAAS will also present a series of astronomy programs in January at Main Library, 100 Rock Street. The series, Astronomy and Stargazing 101, will take place Thursday evenings, January 10, 17, 24, and 30, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Topics will include: Learning the constellations, star-hopping across the night sky, combating light pollution, and library telescopes and how to use them. Moon-viewing sessions will follow each program as skies permit.