Galileoscope: A dream of 1 Telescope Per Child

Posted By Pamela on Sep 22, 2009 | 33 comments

Three Dreamers: Steve Pompea, Doug Arion and Rick Fienberg

Three Dreamers

I know a set of men who had a dream. They wanted to see every child in the world have access to a high-quality low-cost telescope. They wanted something that would show the rings of Saturn, survive a tumble down the stairs, and just keep revealing the sky night after night after night. This is a good dream; a dream inspired by the one laptop per child project. It is a dream that could be a reality, but it needs help. These men need you to dream with them and help their dream become a reality.

Moon thru a Galileoscope (by Andreas O. Jaunsen)

Moon thru a Galileoscope (by Andreas O. Jaunsen)

The Concept is Born
The Galileoscope project was launched about the time everyone realized the 2009 International Year of Astronomy idea was about to become a UN endorsed reality. Lead by Doug Arion, Rick Fienberg, and Steve Pompea, the Galileoscope telescope team gave themselves a goal of $10 per scope and set out to design. Like the original One Laptop Per Child goal of $100 per computer, they overshot a little bit. In this case, they came in at $20 per scope + shipping (or $15 to donate). Still not bad. See that image to the right? That was taken through a Galileoscope. These are systems with excellent optics.

The Problem
There is only 1 problem with the Galileoscope: No one can get one in a timely fashion unless, well, you go bid on this or this auction. Here’s the reason for the problem: No one ever provided the start up money needed to produce that first batch of Galileoscopes. We are literally collecting money until we have enough to run a batch out of the factories, producing and shipping that batch, and collecting money for the next batch. At a minimum, we just needed one rich soul to come forward with $200k to turn the factories on and start producing scopes while we collected a round of orders. Ideally, we need just $500k to get a stock pile of scopes we can sell with 24-hour shipping, while incoming money goes to the next round of orders. But that large donation never came. That donor, that sponsor, that dreamer never stepped forward. So these men with a dream, they put in their own money to get this started, and they asked the world – Will you buy a scope? We’re sorry, but it could take 6-months to get it. But will you buy a scope please?

Looking in the box

Looking in the box

Originally, we’d all imagined millions of orders – both personal purchases and donations for kids everywhere in the world. Just like the original One Laptop Per Child, we have the option to Buy-One-Give-One. These scopes are the price of a double-CD. Why not think they’d sell like the latest top 40 hit? With orders like that, we projected we could turn on more assembly lines, speed up the rate of production, and keep maybe not ahead, but at least keep up. But those millions of orders never came. Everyone it seemed was waiting to see one, touch one, and play with one (or to at least have overnight delivery). But without those millions, that one touchable one never came to the vast majority of people who were thinking “Maybe I’d buy one. I just want to see one first.” They are coming to those who order, one by one a few hundred thousand scattered across the world at a time. They are coming. You may have yours (comment if you do?), and I know mine are coming soon.

A Solution
The one thing this project needs to overcome the delivery problem is funding. Galileoscope itself isn’t a non-profit company (simply because they didn’t spend all the extra money to become a not-for-profit. It costs almost $1000 in fees to set up a not-for-profit for something like Galileoscope!), so they either need help from other organizations or help from someone who doesn’t care about tax deductions. Bottom line – they need finacial help, and while I haven’t found that couple hundred thousand dollar donor, I’m hoping to find maybe a couple thousand dollars of help.

Felicia Day

Felicia Day

This is where you, the casts of Battlestar Galactica and Ghost Hunters International, as well as the wonderful Felicia Day and the new non-profit Astrosphere New Media all come into play. At Dragon*Con in Atlanta on Labor Day weekend, I got pictures of a few famous people (and a few cool costumes) with a Galileoscope. When (thanks to the great Phil Plait!) I asked Felicia Day for her photo, she just signed the box. w00t! An idea was born! We’d get signatures and give someone the chance to have the ultimate geek gift of SyFy geekery. Our wonderful volunteer Laura S. took a box, and I took a box, and between us we cornered the cast of Ghost Hunters International and Battlestar Galactica. Two Galileoscopes. Two sets of different signatures. Two possibilities to make scopes for kids a reality.  The proceeds from this scope will buy scopes for needy kids, and with each scope purchased we are a little closer to a production run.

An eBay Auction
Right now on eBay we have (through Astrosphere New Media Association) two charity auctions. All proceeds are tax deductible and Astrosphere will use the proceeds to buy scopes for needy kids. The auctions are open until October 1st around 7am Pacific / 10am Eastern / 3pm London. You now have the chance to have your own scope, your own geek signatures, and to do a good thing all at once.

Now, I know there is the potential for the winning bid to not be divisible evenly by the $15 a scope costs, so I’m going to step forward and say I’ll personally round the bid amount up to buy that last telescope (I’m just a state university professor, so I can’t do anything cool like match the winning bids, but I would if I could, and if you can, would you please?) Right now, the two scopes are at

  • Felicia Day + Battlestar Galactica Cast signed Galileoscope

    Felicia Day + Battlestar Galactica Cast signed Galileoscope

    Scope 1: Signed by Felicia Day, Michael Hogan, Kandyse McClure, Alessandro Juliani, Mary McDonnell, Michael Trucco, Kate Vernon, Luciano Carro, Richard Hatch, and the BSG Science Advisor Kevin Grazier (see picture). Current Bid: $152!

  • Ghost Hunters Galileoscope

    Ghost Hunters Galileoscope

    Scope 2: Signed by Ghost Hunters International Joe Chin, JC Howell, Dustin Pari, Dave Tango, and 2 more (see picture). Current Bid: $66!

This means if the bidding ended right now there would be 15 scopes for kids who may never have seen the sky with anything other than their eyes. That’s awesome.

But can’t we do better?

Here is my challenge: Fandoms – Ghost Hunter Fans, The Guild / Dr Horrible Fans + Battlestar Galactica Fans – which of you can get the most scopes into the hands of the most kids? Show your fandom colors by bidding high and lending a helping hand.


We have 9 days left. Spread the word. Spread this post. Help gets scopes for kids. Help a dream.

Kate Vernon (Ellen Tigh)

Kate Vernon (Ellen Tigh)

Cool Costumed People

Cool Costumed People

Adam Savage and Phil Plait

Adam Savage and Phil Plait

Gil Gerard (Buck Rogers)

Gil Gerard (Buck Rogers)

Galiloscope in Surly Amy's Scientific Jewelry

Galiloscope in Surly Amy's Scientific Jewelry

Richard Hatch (The ORIGINAL Apollo)

Richard Hatch (The ORIGINAL Apollo)

Steam Punk Boba Fett

Steam Punk Boba Fett

Remember: The Universe is Yours to Discover.


  1. I finally received my Galileoscope this week (I ordered one and donated one in mid-July), and put it together Saturday night. It was incredibly easy. The optics are awesome. Once I got it focused, I could easily see the banding on Jupiter, beautiful nebulosity in open clusters, and many other features in the Heavens that I’ve never been able to pick out with my binoculars, which up until now have been the only optics I’ve had to observe with.

    For a first telescope, it’s a great way to get started. Certainly, it’s affordable, but it’s also very light-weight and portable, even lighter than my 10x50s (although lugging a tripod around, even a lightweight one, adds extra heft). It’s pretty easy to use, although adjusting from binocular observing where everything is right-side up to telescope observing where every movement is reversed can play tricks with your brain. Fortunately the instructions warn you about this, and if you stick with it, you get the hang of it.

    The view though is what’s truly incredible for such a low-price instrument. Definitely worth $20, and then some.

  2. 1. Your website has had a makeover!
    2. Glad to see your back from your crazy summer conferences and trips and fun stuff O.o
    3. i already ordered my Galilee-scope june 2 and it just arrived tuesday last. 😀 it was actually Astronomycast ( I have been avid listener to the show for about 5 months and i absolutely love it!-the only thing i don’t like is checking my pooter every couple days to see if you guys recorded something new.) that called my attention to this project and i am so glad i bought one. It is defiantly worth the 6/7 week wait. Haven’t look at the moon yet but, hopefully i will in the following weeks. i am also looking forward to “pimping” out my scope.

    Keep up the amazing work
    and of course
    Clear skies!

  3. Those who want to “see” a Galileoscope might want to check Galileobuzz, a little online tool I put together:

    It is a web mashup created with Yahoo! Pipes that track and collects the latest news, information, photos and videos on Galileoscope.

  4. Our astronomy club purchased over 200 – some for members (I have two from that batch), some for the club to either give to or loan to teachers and some for Washington University in St. Louis to loan out.

    I love that little scope. Becuase it’s focuser tube is 1 1/4″ it takes regular eyepieces as well and that vastly improves the view, although the supplied eyepieces do work. I’ve seen Jupiter, the Moon, Saturn, M22 and other deep sky objects from a dark site and I’m very impressed.

    Clear skies!

  5. For getting these things out there, are there order forms that we can have on hand at observatory public nights and outreach events? I know we can find one or two around the department to use as a demo. That might be a good way to get people interested in purchasing/donating one, if they see it hands-on in their hometown.

  6. Wanted to let you know that when I bought my 6 Galileoscopes, I also donated some for teachers (can’t remember how many – 6? 3?). Inspired by your example, I’m going to ask John Mather (NASA Nobel Laureate) and “Kelly the Hotel Mauna Kea Girl” ( ) to sign some of mine, which I’ll auction off at Balticon for RIF. Different charity, but I think it will do good either way.

  7. Regarding order forms, we don’t really have one, and I can’t locate our one-page PDF flier on the Web site any longer.

    Please just direct people to or send me an email and I’ll send you a copy of the PDF flier –

    Thanks for your support!

    — Doug Isbell
    US Single Point of Contact for IYA2009

  8. I ordered six Galileoscopes on June 1st. One to end up at my daughter’s high school science classroom, the other five I donated as prizes at our astronomy club’s summer public star party. I had to give out IOUs to the winners as they didn’t arrive in time (due to the trials and tribulations Dr. Gay outlines). However they finally came in late August and I was able to pass them out to the prize winners. One to a small girl with a huge interest in astronomy, one to a family with some handicapped members, the others to simply regular families with at least one member interested in astronomy. Mine assembled very easily and does indeed give nice images. I think they’re a great item and a great way to get people interested in astronomy.

  9. I am so sorry I am only now discovering this.

    I have posted my own blog in the hopes that my small circle will help the cause.

    Also I am going to be purchasing a few Galilioscopes in he very near future.

  10. I am a Docent at Palomar Observatory. At Palomar, we purchased a bunch of Galileoscopes. I think the first order was for 100. We have been giving them away to kids on our observatory tours if they participate as the ‘Night Assistant’ while we demonstrate how the Hale Telescope moves across the sky.
    We have not been advertising this, just doing it. 2009 is also Palomar’s 60th anniversary, and it just seems like a great thing to do. The kids (some young, some not-so-young) have all been ecstatic about receiving a Galileoscope, and we’re happy to help another child experience the night sky.


  11. I ordered mine Mid-August, Still hasn’t showed up yet… every day I go check to see if it’s here yet. I hope you get your troubles straitened out.

  12. I am a bit confused. I’m hearing about this for the first time and it sounds great, but on the galileoscope website i can find no mention whatsoever that if i order one, one will be donated. So, is this really the case? Because shipping to europe will be expensive and i would only consider ordering one, if it helps the donation process. Otherwise i could just buy any old telescope here in germany.

  13. To clarify: You can buy one ($20+shipping), you can donate one ($15), or you can buy one and donate one ($35+shipping of yours. I’m sorry for the confusion.

  14. I am Galileoscope Project coordinator in Poland We have just received 300 scopes purchased by a local company which will resell them to general public here. My Galileoscope web site has scored more than 15k times. I have myself ordered 9 pcs and will order 3 to 6 more to distribute G-scopes to schools around. G-scope is a great idea and it should be contrinued.

    BTW, does anyone knows how many G-scopes have been sold so far?

  15. I ordered 10 and got them a month or so ago. I’ll keep 1 and 7 will be door prizes at CAS’s monthly meetings and 2 were door prizes at the VAAS conference I hosted at NRAO 2 weekends ago.

    I noticed that they’re selling Galileoscopes at the NRAO gift shop in Green Bank WVa. So if you StarStryder readers want some, you can go there to score! Radio Astronomy is astronomy without the eyepieces, ya know!

    I should get Nicole and the other NRAO stars to sign one…

  16. How can we get this in Bangladesh

  17. Hi Pamila, I have thought of getting a Galileoscpe/ but when one and postage and the converting to Americain dollers it is too expencive. But it is a great idea! I hope you are able to get more funds for it.

  18. I agree with Ashley, in Australia the cost of delivery is WAY too expensive. I would love to get one for my daughter and probably a few more as presents but the price is double per unit because of delivery. Makes it uncompetitively priced.

  19. As a student studying astrophysics at the College of Charleston i must say this is perfect for poor college students like me that just want to do some casual observing on our own time. I ordered mine last month and i am still waiting for it to arrive grrr. I just wish more people knew about these.. I plan on bring it to my professors and my classes to try to generate some interest in the galileoscope project!
    P.S. I astronomy cast is amazing.. except ive never had my questions answered 😉

  20. I wish to buy a Galileoscope from Bangladesh. Can anyone help me from where or how I can buy it from Dhaka, Bangladesh. My emai address is Thanks.

    Gilbert Nirmal Bain

  21. i need this

  22. I want to buy a galileoscope from Dhaka,Bangladesh. Can anyone help me? Pls email me at

  23. how can i buy it from my country Bangladesh?

  24. I am from Bangladesh. Here telescope is not available. But my daughter is very eager for it. if i get it with only $20 then i want it please give me an advice.

  25. Hi, Pamela. I’m from Bangladesh but my dad’s going to China (Beijing) in a few days. Wondering if you could tell me if there are any REAL LIFE SHOPS (Not talking about online shopping) which sell galileoscope? PLEASE tell me.


  26. Hi Jasmine, I know of some real life shops here in the US, but in China they often use a different telescope,made largely of cardboard instead of plastic. I would call first, but I think they have them at the Beijing Planetarium (which he should go to anyway, because it’s just amazing.)

  27. I am a young stargazer. I want to get a good but not expensive telescope in Bangladesh. But don’t know where to get it.I am a member of an astronomy forums. One of the forum members suggested me to get a celestron reflector ( 4 or 6″). But the Galileoscope seems good to me. Any of the two will do. But where can I get it???I want to get it from a real life shop, not the online one. Can’t you guys establish a telescope shop in Bangladesh?
    I know I’ve asked too much. Being a teenage (13 years old)and a beginner , I think Galileoscope would be better for me.

  28. i need this Galileoscope . How can i get this from my country ?
    Country : Bangladesh

  29. Anu more resources on subject? Im interested 🙂


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