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Watch the heavens from home


Patrons can now borrow telescope from Ossipee Public Library



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OSSIPEE LIBRARY CARD holders can now borrow a telescope from the library, thanks to the Center Ossipee Village Variety store and the NH Astronomical Society. Pictured above in a telescope presentation are: (l-r) telescope ‘foster parent’ and amateur astronomer Bob Gillette; Angie Carver of Center Ossipee Village Variety; Ossipee Librarian Yvonne Fisher, and NH Astronomical Society public observing coordinator Marc Stowbridge. Oh, and the star of the show, front and center, is the new Orion reflector model telescope. Photo by Larissa Mulkern – Staff (click for larger version)
February 25, 2010
OSSIPEE — Reach for the stars with a trip to your local library.

Thanks to a fund raising event at the Center Ossipee Village Variety, and the New Hampshire Astronomical Society, the Ossipee Public Library now has a portable telescope available for check out. The model is a four and a half inch lens Orion reflector model the society purchased with a $214 donation raised at Village Variety during the holidays when owner Brian Emmett collected a small fee for kids to have their photos taken with Santa.

This whole effort, in fact, evolved with a visit from "Santa," when the NH Astronomical Society's public observing coordinator Marc Stowbridge, wearing the bottom half of a Santa suit on the way to a holiday event, stopped at the Village Variety store. Emmett asked Stowbridge a question about his attire, and, well, the conversation blasted off into the society's work and raising money for a telescope for the library.

For more than a year, the 140-member astronomical society has been helping libraries acquire small but genuinely useful telescopes that can be checked out as easily as a book, so that adults and children alike can explore craters on the moon, star clusters, nebulas of gas and dust, and even larger planets like Jupiter and Saturn, according to amateur astronomer Robert Gillette, the anointed "foster parent" for the library's new telescope.

At a presentation last month at the library, Stowbridge spoke enthusiastically about the society's efforts to bring telescopes to libraries across the state, a dream inspired by poet Robert Frost who offered the thought in his poem, "The Star-Splitter," that every town should have a telescope to enjoy the wonders of the night sky and universe beyond.

"Our goal is to help foster scientific literacy and to stimulate the interest in astronomy," stated Stowbridge. "We are particularly interested in having children use the telescope with appropriate adult supervision. By placing the telescopes in local libraries instead of schools, they can be put into circulation just like a book," he added.

The first library to receive a telescope was the Cook Memorial Library in Tamworth; Ossipee is the 11th library to receive a telescope, with two telescopes awaiting delivery to Plymouth and Sandwich.

To check out the telescope, you'll need a valid library card. The telescope will come with a full set of laminated instructions. The telescope is easy to use, light enough to carry over one arm, and there is nothing to assemble. It has a wooden base as opposed to the usual spindly tripod legs. Stowbridge recommends users set it up on a portable sturdy table on a deck outdoors on a clear night. Our rural, relatively light-free night sky should offer plenty of opportunities for star and planet gazing.

Ossipee Librarian Yvonne Fisher expressed gratitude for this special gift.

"The library is delighted to receive this wonderful gift, to be enjoyed by the whole library community," she said. "We're so grateful to everyone who made this project possible."

"We feel blessed," she adds.

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