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The Galileoscope™ is a high-quality, low-cost telescope kit developed for the International Year of Astronomy 2009 by a team of leading astronomers, optical engineers, and science educators. No matter where you live, with this easy-to-assemble, 50-mm (2-inch) diameter, 25- to 50-power achromatic refractor, you can see the celestial wonders that Galileo Galilei first glimpsed 400 years ago and that still delight stargazers today. These include lunar craters and mountains, four moons circling Jupiter, the phases of Venus, Saturn's rings, and countless stars invisible to the unaided eye.

It is no exaggeration to say that the telescope changed everything: Galileo's discoveries literally revolutionized our perception of the universe and Earth's place in it.

But not everyone has a telescope, especially in less developed parts of the world. To enable more people in more places to personally experience the wonders of the universe, we've developed a remarkably inexpensive, very-high-quality, easy-to-use refractor. With this new instrument, called the Galileoscope, children and adults can learn how telescopes work and repeat for themselves the spectacular observations made by Galileo beginning in 1609.

The Galileoscope comes as a kit with simple instructions for no-tools assembly in 5 minutes or less. Its achromatic optics include a 50-mm-diameter objective lens of focal length 500 mm, an eyepiece of focal length 20 mm (magnification 25x), and a 2x Barlow lens (yielding 50x when used with the supplied eyepiece). The Galileoscope accepts almost any optical accessory that has a standard 1¼-inch (31¾-mm) barrel, and it attaches to virtually every tripod made or distributed anywhere in the world. (A tripod is not included with the kit; you'll have to supply your own.) You get all this for just U.S. $20 each plus shipping, or U.S. $15 each plus shipping for orders of 100 or more.

The Galileoscope is augmented with educational activities and related materials for use by classroom teachers, planetarium presenters, astronomy-club members, and anyone else eager to share the treats of the telescopic sky with others. These materials have been developed in English, but they are freely available for translation into other languages.

The Galileoscope is a Cornerstone Project of the International Astronomical Union (IAU), the world's largest professional society for astronomers and the worldwide coordinator of the IYA2009 celebration. The project is led by the American Astronomical Society (AAS), the premier organization of professional astronomers in North America and the principal coordinator of IYA2009 activities in the United States. Production and distribution are managed by Galileoscope, LLC, a new company established by the Galileoscope project team with the express purpose of ensuring delivery of the best possible product at the lowest possible price