The Galileoscope was selected as a cornerstone project of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009) . Over the last decade, supported by several organisations , more than 250 000 Galileoscope kits have been sent out to people in more than 110 countries. Teachers, students and science enthusiasts worldwide have used them to engage with optics, telescopes, and astronomy. Through an agreement with Explore Scientific, the project will now continue, a decade after it was first introduced.
The Galileoscope is a high-quality telescope designed to be easy to assemble and use. It was developed by a team of leading astronomers, optical engineers and science educators to make the wonders of the night sky more accessible . Galileoscopes have prompted people to consider the importance of astronomy, and for many, using one has been a life-changing experience.
Though originally planned to last only for the duration of IYA2009, when more than 100 000 kits were distributed, the Galileoscope was so popular that the science education and outreach community asked the project organisers to continue producing it. The kits were sold for nine more years, within which time a second wave of interest was sparked by the 2015 International Year of Light. By March 2018 the inventory of Galileoscopes was exhausted; the volunteers who managed the effort stopped taking orders and began to search for a company to take over the project. They found one: Explore Scientific, an Arkansas-based maker of optical instruments for outdoor sports and science enthusiasts. Explore Scientific has now assumed responsibility for the production and distribution of Galileoscopes.
The Galileoscope will now continue to give as many people as possible, especially in underserved communities around the world, a “wow” experience at the eyepiece of a telescope.
 IYA2009 marked the 400th anniversary of Galileo Galilei's first astronomical observations through a telescope. It was a worldwide celebration that promoted astronomy and its contribution to society and culture, with events at regional, national, and global levels.
 In addition to the IAU, UNESCO, the IYA2009 Global Sponsors and the IYA2009 Organisational Associates, principal sponsors of the Galileoscope project over the past decade have included the American Astronomical Society, the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, the National Science Foundation, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, Carthage College, Photon Engineering, Sky & Telescope, Jean and Ric Edelman and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation..
 The Galileoscope is an optically excellent but inexpensive telescope kit suitable for both indoor optics education and outdoor celestial observations. In the process of assembling the kit, which requires no tools or adhesives, students use the included optical bench to learn how lenses form images and to explore other optics concepts. Then, with their completed Galileoscope, they enjoy sharp views of the Moon, planets, and other bright astronomical objects. The kit is augmented with free, standards-based optics-education and observing activities, some available in multiple languages. These well-tested activities are used by classroom and after-school teachers as well as informal educators to provide a rigorous approach to teaching science and the process of science.
The IAU is the international astronomical organisation that brings together more than 13 500 professional astronomers from more than 100 countries worldwide. Its mission is to promote and safeguard astronomy in all its aspects, including research, communication, education and development, through international cooperation. The IAU also serves as the internationally recognised authority for assigning designations to celestial bodies and the surface features on them. Founded in 1919, the IAU is the world's largest professional body for astronomers.
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