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CoS Partnering to Offer Stargazing Programs at 12 Maine State Parks

By Latest News

Maine state parks involved in the telescope program

Cornerstones of Science announced today that it is partnering with The Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund , U-Maine’s Emera Astronomy Center, and a collection of Maine astronomers and trained naturalists to develop stargazing programs for guests and visitors at twelve State Parks in Maine (see map).

A Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund grant will be used to purchase twelve telescopes and star kits, two iPads with star apps, and astronomy books, plus hold a night sky training session for park staff and program presenters at the Emera Astronomy Center in Orono. As early as summer 2020, the twelve telescopes will be accessible to rangers across Maine’s State Parks. The program is designed to encourage members of the public to get outside and enjoy Maine’s exceptional night skies. Maine is home to some of the nation’s darkest skies and has been launching an international night skies movement for the last several years.

“Cornerstones is thrilled by this new partnership because it encourages exploration of the natural world and allows increased access to STEM programming, which is critical to a science-literate public,” said Cynthia Randall, executive director of Cornerstones of Science, based in Brunswick, Maine. Randall noted that Cornerstones has helped to place telescopes in 65 libraries across Maine, and will ensure that connections to local libraries can be made by residents of towns within range of the twelve State Parks.

Stargazing programs are designed to connect the public to Maine’s extraordinary natural heritage during the nighttime hours, when increasing numbers of people hesitate to be outside. Viewing the stars has the inherent ability to make people think outside themselves and to wonder about their place in the universe. This project is designed to connect stargazers with the importance of the stars for navigation by humans and animals, and to inspire increased protection of night skies.

Look for these stargazing programs during the summer of Maine’s bicentennial, 2020. They will be announced in this newsletter and online at

Night sky photo by Neale LaSalle.

Apollo 11 launch

Rocket Time!

By Fall 2019 Newsletter, Latest News

The Universe of Stories summer reading theme and Rocket Camp Week at the Stephen’s Central Library in San Angelo, TX, proved to be a great ride this past summer. Summer reading and Rocket Camp are activities that the library has had in the past, but something new at the library this year helped patrons gain a better understanding of Earth and space. In early spring, the library installed a NASA@ My Library display designed to gage people’s interest in Earth and space science and to determine if people’s interest grows over time.

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CoS Bug and Butterfly Science Trunk

Cornerstones Works to Stem Food Insecurity

By Fall 2019 Newsletter, Latest News

A “lunch and learn” project this past summer at three public libraries in Maine helped bring fun hands-on STEM literacy to the library and provided a healthy lunch at the same time. The summer-long project was in collaboration with Maine Campus Compact, Department of Education, Cornerstones of Science, McArthur Public Library in Biddeford, Lewiston Public Library, and Bangor Public Library. Read more about it here:

Story Time from Space: Videos as a Resource Any Time

By Latest News

The Global Space Education Foundation Experience project, Story Time from Space, sends great story time books into space that are then read by astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS)!  These experiences are captured on videos and produced with a split screen that include a close-up view of the book so that those watching can easily see the page of the book being read as well as the astronaut.  Some pages are even animated. A number of videos are available to watch anytime on the Story Time from Space website.

The most recent book read available is A Moon of My Own by Jennifer Rustgi , illustrated by Ashley White, and read by Astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor .

The recent SpaceX Falcon 9 CRS-17, a ISS resupply mission that launched in early May, had on board Astronaut Annie by Suzanne Slade and illustrated by Nicole Tadgell. Keep an eye out for its reading on the Story Time from Space website. In the book, Annie is preparing for Career Day at school and many of her family members think they know what she wants to be when she grows up. She surprises them at the Career Day presentation. This is a Tilbury House Publishers book .

STEM Resources for Librarians Are Available Now!

By Latest News


The Cornerstones of Science YouTube page now has a number of STEM related how-to and other videos for librarians. The newest additions are three how-to videos on using astronomical tools for viewing the night sky as part of our work with the NASA@ My Library project.

How-to-training videos on science tools

STEM Stories videos

Watch short videos from seven public libraries on their successes and challenges on becoming a strong STEM library as part of a recent Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grant with the Maine State Library and Cornerstones of Science.

STEM Workshops:

Attend a NASA STEM Workshop with the Space Science Institute & Lunar Planetary Institute or host your own STEM training workshop


Webinar training opportunities for librarians will prepare librarians and librarian patrons for earth and space science events:

  • What’s Up! in June, July, and August
    Short 15 min. webinars to understand what astronomical activity is happening in June, July, and August. Presented by Cornerstones of Science and Southern Maine Astronomers.
    June 11th at 2 p.m. (EST) Register here
    July 9th at 2 p.m. (EST) Register here
    August 13th at 2 p.m. (EST) Register here
  • International Observe the Moon Night (InOMN) Prep A 30 min. webinar to learn about all the resources available for InOMN, which takes place on Oct 5th this year. Presented by Cornerstones of Science on September 10th at 2 p.m. (EST) Register here

Set Up a Hands-on Astronomy Activity in Your Library

By Latest News

Cornerstones of Science recently participated in the Maine Science Festival at the Bangor Civic Center in Bangor, Maine. Telescopes and space science books were set up on tables so that participants young and old could get some hands-on time with these tools and resources while inside the building.

Recreate this experience at your library (active or passive activity):

  1. Turn the optical tube so that the eyepiece is at the right height for your audience (loosen the clamshell and turn the optical tube down for youth or up for adults). If you have multiple telescopes, leave one set lower and the other one higher. (see zoom eyepieces in photos)
  2. Use the EZ Finder to locate an object down a long hallway or outside (do not point the telescope at the sun of have it where others could accidentally point it at the sun).
  3. Once you have found an object, tighten down the adjustment knob on the side of the telescope so that the optical tube does not move.
  4. Look through the zoom eyepiece to see the object. You may need to move the optical tube slightly up/down or side to side to get the object into view.
  5. Use the focuser knob to get the object clear and in focus.
  6. Turn the Zoom eyepiece from wide angle (24mm) to a zoomed in magnified image (8mm).

Add to this experience with books about space, the moon, constellations, astronomers, and telescopes. Offer a monthly Evening Sky Map print out as a take home piece

Telescope Donated to a Deserving Library

By Latest News, Library News

Thomaston Public Library in Thomaston, Maine, recently received their library telescope and training from Cornerstones of Science.  A series of interesting events led up to them taking delivery of the telescope that included a retiring Cornerstones board member with a passion for the library telescope program, and the library’s strong STEM engagement for their community.

At the end of 2018, Rudi Graf, a Cornerstones Board Member from 2014-2018, decided to retire from the board due to a health issue. The staff and board felt that they wanted to do something special to honor Rudi and the work he put into the organization. Donating a library telescope to a deserving library seemed to be the perfect idea, since the program was much beloved by Rudi, previous owner of The Science Source, a science kit development and distribution company in Waldoboro, Maine. At the same time, Cornerstones staff noticed a number of STEM initiatives that the Thomaston Public Library initiated in the past year. One such initiative was the impressive 40 Days of Summer program where they not only borrowed every Cornerstones Science Trunk to use for programming, but they held numerous other activities to help the community’s youth stay engaged throughout the summer.

A small dedication ceremony took place at the library on November 15 with Rudi Graff in attendance along with CoS staff, library staff, and library patrons.

Congrats to the Thomaston Public Library! See what they do

To learn more about the CoS Library Telescope program visit

Head Librarian Diane Giese (left), Rudi Graf (center), and librarian Caroline Ward-Nesbit (right) in the Thomaston Public Library in Thomaston, Maine.