DERRY — Patrons are seeing stars, thanks to a new lending policy at Derry Public Library.
The library now has a telescope available to be loaned out, part of the library’s efforts to bring astronomy to those who love the stars and want to learn more.
The New Hampshire Astronomical Society started placing telescopes in libraries all over the state in 2008. It was part of the group’s mission to help encourage scientific literacy. Right now, more than 50 libraries are on the society’s telescope watch.
The program also gives library patrons a chance to actually borrow a telescope to take home for some stargazing.
The Orion StarBlast 4.5-inch astronomical telescope is the library model of choice, a substantial piece of equipment. It is easy to learn how to use.
Library official Meryle Zusman said library supporters made the telescope possible.
“Derry received the telescope from our Friends of the Derry Public Libraries group,” she said. “I believe they paid $250.”
Zusman said patrons can either stop by in person to check out the telescope or reserve the equipment online.
Having the telescope also helps the library kick off a series of special programs on astronomy. The first, “What’s Up in Tonight’s Sky,” is set for Feb. 6 at 6:30 p.m. and another program is planned for March 13.
The programs will give people a chance to get familiar with the telescope and learn about its operation.
Members of the Astronomical Society will be on hand to give a brief opening talk and slide show. Participants will then head outside to nearby MacGregor Park to view the sky and stars, weather permitting.
Astronomy experts will bring more telescopes along for program participants to use, so early registration is recommended.
Adult Services and reference librarian Sherry Bailey said people will also be able to check out a telescope for two weeks at a time for at-home stargazing.
It will be much different than taking out a book or video. Making sure the equipment is well cared for will be a concern, Bailey said, but representatives from the Astronomical Society will be available to service the telescope if needed and make sure everything is working well.
If adjustments have to be made, the experts will do it.
Bailey said the library will schedule more astronomy events since they now have the telescope.
“It is also the most unusual, probably,” Bailey said. “We have books, we have videos, we have kits for learning languages, but this is the most unique thing we’ve ever had.”
To learn more about the telescope at the library and upcoming astronomy programs, call 432-6140.