The Virginia Public Library has been awarded an ORION 4.5-inch StarBlast telescope that will be available for VPL patrons to sign out and take home to explore the wonders of the night sky.  The award was made by the ASTRONOMICAL LEAGUE, under its Horkheimer Library Telescope Program, which awards up to 10 such telescopes annually. While the scope is designated as a Tabletop instrument, the telescope is no “toy”!

The package includes two eyepieces (17mm & 6.0mm) and is excellent for ‘easy’ lunar and planetary observations as well as more challenging deep sky exploration such as double stars, nebula, and the occasional comet. Additionally, there is a Celestron 8-24mm Zoom eyepiece which offers a variety of magnifications with a simple turn of the eyepiece.  The lowest magnification is 16x with a highest theoretical magnification of 228x.  The scope includes a red-dot EZ Finder Scope, moon filter to reduce glare during quarter to full moons, and a solar filter for authorized special use, as well as monthly updated sky calendar and chart.

The telescopes are purchased annually with the proceeds of an endowment established by Jack Horkheimer (06/11/1938-08/20/2010) who not only had a life-long love of astronomy, but also of bringing the excitement and joy of the discovery of astronomy to others, especially children.  One year later, he moved to Miami, FL and began volunteering at the Miami Science Museum Planetarium and was soon writing planetarium shows offered to the public as well as franchised to other planetariums across the country.  Jack changed the Planetarium show from just a science lecture to a full multimedia event including music, lights and lively narration.

The Horkheimer Telescope at the Virginia Public Library is just a part of his lasting contribution to astronomy for the general public. It is perhaps most appropriate then that his tombstone carries his own epitaph which reads: “‘Keep Looking Up’ was my life’s admonition. I can do little else in my present position”.  Indeed, Mr. Horkheimer.  Indeed.

The VPL is indebted to Mr. Horkheimer and the Astronomical League for this addition to our community.  Orientation classes on the care and use of the telescope and basic astronomy are planned. Please see the poster below for dates and times where you can learn more about the library’s new telescope and how to use it!