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Amateur astronomer donates telescopes to P.E.I. schools by Ryan Ross

From The Guardian, Prince Edward Island Canada

When Queen Charlotte Intermediate School students get the urge to look to the stars they’re going to have the right equipment to do it thanks to the recent donation of a new telescope.

That donation was thanks to local amateur astronomer Keith Cooper, who organized the Scopes for Schools program to help make astronomy more accessible for students.

Shaeya Thibodeau, a Grade 7 student who is part of Queen Charlotte’s astronomy club, said the donation will help the group a lot by letting the students see objects in space more clearly.

“Instead of just hearing about it in class we get to see it,” she said.

Cooper considers himself a sidewalk astronomer who sets up his telescope around Charlottetown to peer into the sky and let anyone who is interested take a look through his equipment.

Earlier this month, he was at Queen Charlotte Intermediate to present a Dobsonian telescope as part of the Scopes for Schools program with help from Cyrilla Saunders of CIBC Wood Gundy, who helped provide funding.

Cooper’s connection to the school came through a solar viewing session he held one day. He said the interest he saw from the students and other children made him think about donating a telescope.

Cooper said someone suggested donating to more than one school, but he wasn’t sure if that was likely to happen.

Since then he got seven telescopes to give away, thanks to help from donors.

The telescopes, which retail for about $500, are for serious observation and will give the students great views of the sky, including objects in deep space, Cooper said.

“They are not a toy telescope.”

Cooper said he isn’t looking for any gratitude and he gets satisfaction out of seeing the look on people’s faces when they use a telescope to see something like the rings of Saturn or craters on the moon big enough to fit the city of Halifax.

“They’re going to go on a journey of exploration and discovery,” he said.

For Thibodeau, she said she likes that astronomy lets her look up at the sky to see stars and think about how far away they are.

“It’s kind of cool,” she said. 


Keith Cooper, from Sidewalk Astronomers of Charlottetown, explains how their new telescope works. With him are Queen Charlotte Intermediate School students Ethan Nabuurs and Shaeya Thibodeau, and Cyrilla Saunders of CIBC Wood Gundy.
photo by Heather Taweel of The Guardian

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