Moon photo taken with phone through telescope Photo of Jupiter and its moons taken with a phone through a telescope Photo of the Moon taken with a phone looking through a telescope

Photos taken with a smart phone looking through the eyepiece of our telescopes.

(click for larger image)

The planetarium has telescopes available for loan/rent. We have simple manually pointed telescopes (6" Orion XT6 Dobsonian; photo below right) which are easy to use. We can show you how to use one and let you have it for up to two weeks. We also have one 8" Dobsonian telescope (less portable; heavier).

Telescope sizes:  The telescopes are fairly large, so before you consider borrowing/renting one of our telescopes.

  • 6" Dobsonians:  (XT6-1, XT6-2, XT6-3, XT6-4)
    Tube and base attached together:  53” x 19” x 19”
    Base alone:  27” x 19” x 19”
    Tube alone:  47” x 12” x 12”
    Weight:  35 pounds
  • 8" Dobsonian:  (Celestron Star Hopper 8)
    Tube alone:  53" x 16" x 10";  20 pounds
    Base alone:  24" x 24" x 23";  30 pounds

telescope image

Fee: no charge for City of Madison residents and Madison teachers; $5 for non-Madison users.

Other Telescopes:  We also have other telescopes which have been donated to the planetarium that we offer as a way to try different styles of telescopes before you purchase a telescope. They require more training and experience, and are not as easy to transport. They include:  Meade 8" LX200 Schmidt-Cassegrain; Older Celestron C-8 Schmidt-Cassegrain. 

If you are interested in borrowing a telescope...

Reservations:  You must reserve a telescope ahead of time. The calendar displaying current reservations is shown at the bottom of this page. [NOTE: If you have trouble viewing the embedded calendar below, you can view the calendar on a page by itself]

XT6-1, XT6-2, XT6-3, XT6-4, and CSH8 are the ID numbers we use for the loaner telescopes.

Please check the calendar below or view a larger calendar to find an opening, and then fill out the Telescope Loan Reservation Request Form.

We will respond to your request via e-mail.

Parking:  When picking up or dropping off a telescope, please try to use one of the Itinerant Parking spots on the west (Gammon Rd.) side of the building near the Memorial HS electronic sign. If none of those spots are available, you may park next to the curb just past the planetarium sign with your flashers on.

If you have questions, contact: Geoff Holt  gholt@madison.k12.wi.us


Resources

Star Charts: Maps of the sky are very helpful for observing. We provide maps during the school year, and we have a link to our favorite year-round star maps. Check out our Star Chart page. Skymaps.com also has an excellent star chart which is available for free year round.

Jupiter: To figure out which moons you are seeing, check out this web interface, or try Sky & Telescope's iOS mobile app called JupiterMoons

Saturn: To figure out which moons you are seeing, check out this web simulation, or try Sky & Telescope's iOS mobile app called SaturnMoons.

Moon: For observing the Moon in a telescope, it's nice to have a map. An excellent FREE iOS app to consider is Moon Globe. Or, you can use an online map like The Full Moon Atlas.


Student Telescope Scholarship

The Madison Astronomical Society (MAS) does a longer term telescope loan program which they refer to as their "Student Telescope Scholarship" program. MAS loans up to three telescopes per year to qualified high school students, and provides support and other materials as well to encourage growth in observational astronomy among students. Follow the links above for more information at the MAS website and email John Rummel for more information.