Galileoscope Launches International Year of Light Programs

The Galileoscope program for the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies 2015 (IYL 2015) is now in full swing, with new inventory available for delivery worldwide and thousands of K-12 teachers and students in the United States poised to receive free telescope kits thanks to a generous donation to support science education.


Created for the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA 2009), the Galileoscope solved a long-standing problem: the lack of a high-quality, low-cost telescope kit suitable for both optics education and celestial observation. Through an effort managed entirely by volunteers, more than 225,000 Galileoscope kits have been distributed in more than 100 countries for use in science teaching and public outreach. The Galileoscope has been named part of the IYL 2015 Cosmic Light programme, coordinated by the International Astronomical Union, and special IYL 2015-branded kits are now available for purchase and for donation through the Telescopes4Teachers (T4T) program.

Since its inception, the Galileoscope project has facilitated gifts to teachers and students who might otherwise not have access to a telescope. During the IYA 2009, some 7,000 kits were donated through a buy-one-give-one program and distributed to educators throughout Africa and the Middle East. That same year, Edelman Financial Services (EFS) and its founders Jean and Ric Edelman donated 15,000 Galileoscopes to U.S. science teachers. For the IYL 2015, EFS and the Edelmans have made another generous contribution to Telescopes4Teachers to support the distribution of 10,000 more Galileoscopes to K-12 science educators in the U.S. Ric Edelman will promote their availability via his biweekly radio program, The Truth About Money, in late May/early June. T4T sponsorships offer a great opportunity for organizations and individuals to support science education and gain visibility among students and teachers across the nation and beyond. Managed through the non-for-profit Carthage College Institute of Astronomy, T4T donations are tax deductible in the U.S. Donors of thousands of kits can arrange for custom packaging and the inclusion in the box of promotional inserts and stickers.

In the process of assembling the Galileoscope, students explore fundamental optical concepts such as how lenses form images. Then, with their completed 50-mm (2-inch) diameter, 25- to 50-power achromatic refractor — which attaches to any photo tripod — they enjoy sharp views of lunar craters and mountains, Jupiter’s moons, Saturn’s rings, the phases of Venus, and other bright celestial objects. The kit is augmented with free, standards-based optics-education and observing activities, available in multiple languages. These well-tested activities can be used by classroom and after-school teachers as well as informal educators to provide a rigorous approach to teaching science and the process of science.

The Galileoscope has been featured in professional-development workshops for educators worldwide. Among the organizations routinely incorporating the kit into their teacher training are the U.S. National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO), the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP), and the Galileo Teacher Training Program (GTTP). NOAO has established a program of workshops for educators that can be carried out virtually anywhere — including online ― at minimal cost to the host institution.

Galileoscopes can be ordered wholesale by the case of six for $150 ($25 kit) plus shipping. Individual kits are available from the retailers listed on the Galileoscope website.

About IAU IYL 2015 Cosmic Light Programme


The International Astronomical Union (IAU) recognize the importance of light for astronomy and supports that technology in the achievement of greater energy efficiency, in particular by limiting energy waste, and in the reduction of light pollution, which is key to the preservation of dark skies. The IAU is therefore a supporter of the IYL 2015.

The IAU IYL 2015 Cosmic Light Programme Cornerstone Projects are: Cosmic Light Awareness, Light: Beyond the Bulb and Galileoscope.

For more information please visit the IAU website.

About IYL 2015

The International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies (IYL 2015) is a global initiative adopted by the United Nations (A/RES/68/221) to raise awareness of how optical technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to worldwide challenges in energy, education, agriculture, communications and health.  With UNESCO as lead agency, IYL 2015 programs will promote improved public and political understanding of the central role of light in the modern world while also celebrating noteworthy anniversaries in 2015—from the first studies of optics 1,000 years ago to discoveries in optical communications that power the Internet today.  The IYL Global Secretariat is located at the Abdus Salam International Centre of Theoretical Physics (ICTP).

The Founding Partners of IYL 2015 are the American Institute of Physics (AIP), the American Physical Society (APS), the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft (DPG), the European Physical Society (EPS), the Abdus Salam International Centre of Theoretical Physics (ICTP), the IEEE Photonics Society (IPS), the Institute of Physics (IOP), Light: Science and Applications, the International Network, 1001 Inventions, The Optical Society (OSA) and the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE). 

Patron Sponsors include Bosca, the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD), Royal Philips Lighting, Thorlabs and UL.


Doug Arion
Galileoscope, LCC

Rick Fienberg
Galileoscope, LCC

Sze-leung Cheung
International Astronomical Union

John Dudley
Steering Committee Chair
International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies 2015

Joe Niemela
Global Coordinator (IYL Secretariat)
International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies 2015