Starting 1 May, 2021, the Anton Pannekoek Institute (API) and the Amsterdam public library (OBA) will begin lending the first ever Dutch Library Telescope. The telescope, a portable so-called “Dobsonian telescope” with an 11 cm mirror, can be borrowed free of charge from the Oosterdok branch by library members 18 years old and older. The loan period is 3 weeks, to allow for the chance that there will be nights clear enough to use the telescope. The telescope comes with a zoom-lens, a manual, and a list of astronomical objects easily seen with a relatively small telescope, even within the light pollution of Amsterdam.
The idea for the project came from the United States, where the Library Telescope Project was initiated by amateur astronomer Marc Stowbridge. Since then, it has grown to the point where at least one library per State has a telescope to loan.
Program founder Esther Hanko: “I first read about the Library Telescope Project in 2014, in a magazine for amateur astronomers and always thought it was such a great idea! Because we are currently unable to organize stargazing evenings at the API due to Corona, I thought this was a good time to bring a telescope to the people instead of the other way around.”
The telescope has been adapted and made sturdier by the University of Amsterdam but is otherwise a fairly common beginner's telescope costing around 200 euros.
Reservations are necessary, this can be done by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and stating your name, telephone number and OBA-pass number, with the subject-heading ‘Telescope’. The OBA will then contact you to make an appointment to pick up the telescope.
All of the documentation is freely available at http://bibliotheektelescoop.nl (translated into Dutch) or http://librarytelescope.org (original documents, in English) so that any interested observatories and libraries throughout the country can also start lending a telescope. The API and OBA project will initially run for 6 months, after which it will be evaluated. If the project is successful, it will be extended and expanded with more telescopes.