NASA grant brings space programs into library's orbit
There isn’t much to see in Alaska’s night sky right now.
But not long from now, the sky will be full of visible stars. And the Kenai Community Library is ready.
“We were able to purchase telescopes and binoculars. So when we get dark again, people can actually go out and they can check out a telescope and they can look at the stars," said Elizabeth Kleweno, program coordinator for the Kenai Community Library.
The library has a grant from NASA that it’s using to promote the new James Webb Telescope. The first images from the telescope were publicized last week and today, the library celebrated the astronomical milestone with a dedicated James Webb Day, including bingo, take-home kits and a space-themed story time.
The two new telescopes are available to library users year round. Kleweno said they're part of a push to engage the community with interactive programming.
“Libraries are really getting into kits and different things that people can take home, so you don’t have to purchase them," she said. "You can check [telescopes] out from the library for 21 days."
The telescopes come in daypacks, along with user manuals and star charts. There’s also a pair of nighttime binoculars available that require less set up.
Kleweno said the Anchorage Public Library was the first in the state to get the grant from NASA. She said they've found the telescopes to be really popular there.
The Kenai library bought the telescopes earlier this spring, as opportunities for night-sky viewing became fewer and further between. And they haven't seen much interest in them, yet.
But Kleweno hopes as the sky becomes darker and there are more opportunities to actually see what’s happening in the night sky — that changes.