February 9, 2011
Schools in East Iceland presented with astronomical telescopes

All elementary schools and junior colleges in East Iceland were today presented with astronomical telescopes by the Icelandic Astronomical Society, the Seltjarnarnes Amateur Astronomical Society and the National Committee of the Year of Astronomy 2009. Alcoa Fjardaál supported the project with a grant of 2,600 US$.

The project involves supplying all elementary schools and junior colleges in Iceland with an astronomical telescope. The aim is to raise the interest of Icelandic students for science and to make it possible for them to see the wonders of the universe through their own eyes. The telescope is named the Galileoscope after the Italian scientist Galileo Galilei who brought on a revolution in science when he pointed his homemade telescope to the stars.
 
The occasion for presenting the telescopes arose in the International Year of Astronomy, 2009. That year, an international group of astronomers, amateur astronomers and science teachers got together to create a special telescope in order to make the wonders of the universe accessible to as many people as possible.
 
“This is one of the biggest science interest projects ever entered into in Iceland,” said Saevar Helgi Bragason, the project leader and president of the Seltjarnarnes Amateur Astronomical Society. “The aim is to give all Icelandic schoolchildren the opportunity to see what Galileo Galilei saw around 400 years ago, and even more than he did. By doing so, we can hopefully increase Icelandic schoolchildren’s interest for science.”
 
The Galileoscope is, of course, much better and more technically developed than the one that Galileo made by hand around four centuries ago. This easy-to-assemble, 50-mm diameter, 25- to 50-power achromatic refractor offers a very wide vision, which makes it easy to use and handle. With the telescope, Icelandic schoolchildren can view clusters, nebulae and galaxies strewn across the deep space millions of light years away.
 
The Galileoscope is delivered unassembled to the schools, but it is easy-to-assemble and dismantle for storage. It is a unique teaching tool, augmented with educational activities and related materials for use by classroom teachers in mathematics, physics, history, philosophy and astronomy. The Icelandic version also includes a documentary on the 400-year-history of the telescope, with Icelandic subtexts.
 



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Future scientists?


Students from Reydarfjordur Elementary School attended the formal ceremony when the telescopes were presented. These four were excited about seeing the stars through the new Galileoscope.



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The wonders of the universe


A young student from Reydarfjordur Elementary School knows that it takes a lot of concentration to spot the right star.