By Amanda McFarland
Adult Programming Administrator
WARSAW — Thanks to the Warsaw Astronomical Society (WAS), WCPL is now the proud owner of an Orion StarBlast 4.5 inch telescope. The best part: library cardholders can check the telescope out and take it home.
Last summer, Ed Jarrett of WAS approached the library with the idea of donating a telescope for patrons to use.
“The Warsaw Astronomical Society is devoted to exploring and sharing the night sky,” Jarrett said. “We delight in furthering our knowledge of space and taking others along on our journey.”
The telescope can magnify objects from within the solar system, as well as some “deep-sky” objects. Pointing it at the moon, for example, will bring into focus features like mountains, “seas” and craters. Planets are also observable, with Venus, Jupiter and Saturn being the brightest.
Users can also view distant stars like never before. For example, the star Mizar, in the middle of the handle of the Big Dipper, is actually two stars close together. The telescope will also allow stargazers to distinguish the colors of different stars.
“There is a lot of ‘low-hanging fruit’ in space,” Jarrett said. “The moon will not fail to astound. Jupiter, Saturn and other bright planets are amazing to watch. Cruising through the Milky Way will turn up dozens of little wonders too faint to see with the naked eye.”
Deep-sky objects are more difficult to find and will require use of the “National Audubon Society Constellations Pocket Guide,” included with the telescope. These include, but are not limited to, the nebulas, the Andromeda Galaxy and star clusters.
The user guide also teaches how to discover objects like the Pinwheel Galaxy through a method known as “star hoping.” The guide warns that deep-sky objects will not appear in vivid color, as they do in NASA images, as they are too far away for our eye to distinguish those wavelengths.
WCPL and WAS both warn never to use the telescope to look at the sun, as this can result in permanent eye damage.
To check out the telescope, patrons need to bring their library card to the WCPL reference desk. Library staff will explain the basics of operation, while the user manual contains more details.
WAS established in 1980. It often hosts public viewing nights at Potawatomi Wildlife Park, Tippecanoe, and Camp Crosley, North Webster. For more information, visit their Facebook page. While the library owns the telescope, WAS provides maintenance and repair. Check the WCPL calendar for future programs in partnership with WAS.