Library Here Offers Telescope for Checkout

Don Ficken of the St. Louis Astronomical Society uses a yardstick and Earth and the moon on toothpicks to show how a solar eclipse occurs. In a presentation at the Busy Bee Building on Feb. 19 he also demonstrated how to use the Brentwood Public Library's telescope. (All photos by Steve Bowman)
Don Ficken of the St. Louis Astronomical Society uses a yardstick and Earth and the moon on toothpicks to show how a solar eclipse occurs. In a presentation at the Busy Bee Building on Feb. 19 he also demonstrated how to use the Brentwood Public Library’s telescope. (All photos by Steve Bowman)

But call ahead to get on waiting list

 
By Steve Bowman
Editor, The Brentwood Spirit
Email: bowmansj@sbcglobal.net

You no longer have to buy an expensive telescope to see Saturn’s rings and Jupiter’s moons. All it takes is a library card.

At the Brentwood Public Library you can check out a telescope just like you do a book. They bought a reflector telescope last year and since May have been offering it for a seven-day checkout.

Head Librarian Gina Gibbons advises to call ahead and reserve it because typically there are several people on the waiting list (six as of Feb. 24).

Brentwood residents listen as Don Ficken talks astronomy.
Brentwood residents listen as Don Ficken talks astronomy.

The telescope is an Orion Starblast model with a 4.5-inch reflector. It is designed to be set on a table and weighs only 14 pounds. The magnification zooms from 20x to 60x. It comes with a fanny pack that contains a red headlamp for making adjustments in the dark, a user’s manual, a constellation guide and a moon map.

Public libraries in Brentwood and 17 other St. Louis area communities have purchased telescopes at a discounted price from the nonprofit St. Louis Astronomical Society. The organization held a training session on how to use the instruments on Feb. 19 at the Brentwood Busy Bee Building in Memorial Park. About 20 people attended, about half of them children. It was billed as Star Night but cloudy skies kept the group indoors.

To check out the telescope, call the Brentwood Public Library at 963-8630. You must be at least 18 years old.

Andrew Pierce and his children Alden and Kathryn look through the telescope that can be checked out from the Brentwood Public Library. They attended Star Night on Feb. 19.
Andrew Pierce and his children Alden and Kathryn look through the telescope that can be checked out from the Brentwood Public Library. They attended Star Night on Feb. 19.
Don Ficken explains how to adjust the telescope.
Don Ficken explains how to adjust the telescope.
Dan Schiller takes a first look through the library's Orion Starblast telescope, which has a 4.5-inch reflector.
Dan Schiller takes a first look through the library’s Orion Starblast telescope, which has a 4.5-inch reflector.
Don Ficken tells the group to never view a solar eclipse without special protective glasses.
Don Ficken tells the group to never view a solar eclipse without protective glasses.
Organizing the Feb. 19 Star Night were Stephanie Hopp (left) of the Brentwood Parks and Recreation Department and Lindsay Beckman of the Brentwood Public Library.
Organizing the Feb. 19 Star Night were Stephanie Hopp (left) of the Brentwood Parks and Recreation Department and Lindsay Beckman of the Brentwood Public Library. The library’s telescope weighs about 14 pounds. 
Don Ficken shows how the sun and the moon will line up so that Missourians see a total solar eclipse in 2017.
Don Ficken uses a flashlight, a sphere on a stick and a Missouri map to show how the sun and the moon will line up so that Missourians see a total solar eclipse at noon on Aug. 21, 2017.

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