Summer Reading Program 2019

Our summer reading program explores the theme of space through presentations, stargazing opportunities, exhibits, movies, and (of course) books.

Refracting Telescope Exhibit in Ilsley Public Library Lobby

This exhibit illustrates the lenses of a refracting telescope, similar to the one designed by Johannes Kepler in 1611. It consists of two lenses—an eyepiece (the smaller lens) and the objective lens (the larger one). You can learn more about different types of refracting telescopes here.

This exhibit has been created with design assistance and advice from Angus Findlay, Middlebury College Physics Department, and Jonathan Kemp, Mittelman Observatory at Middlebury College. A special thanks to the Middlebury College Physics Department and their machinist for fashioning and lending exhibit materials.

Ilsley Public Library Telescope

The Ilsley Public Library Orion Starblast telescope is an example of a reflecting telescope. In contrast to the earlier refracting telescopes, reflecting telescopes use a single mirror or combination of mirrors. The Ilsley Public Library telescope can be checked out for a week at a time. You can reserve it at the adult circulation desk.

Stargazing Opportunities

The Mittelman Observatory at Middlebury College

The Mittelman Observatory and Middlebury College Physics Department host numerous free, stargazing events. For more information, visit their website here.

Stargazing with the Vermont Astronomical Society

Friday, July 12 from 9 to 10:30 pm at the Mary Hogan Elementary School.

Please join members of the Vermont Astronomical Society for a night of stargazing at the ball field next to the Mary Hogan School. Club members will be on hand to answer your questions and to demonstrate how to use a telescope, to see stars, and other celestial objects such as Jupiter and the moon. (Friday, Jul 19 rain date)

Lunar Lander Programming Challenge

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon mission, as part of our “Universe of Stories” Summer Reading Program, Ilsley Public Library invites you to write a lunar lander computer simulation in the Python programming language and submit your program for a chance to win a gift certificate from the Vermont Book Shop. Your program will simulate the controlled descent of the lunar lander and model both a successful and a crash landing, keeping track of the lander’s current altitude, speed and fuel. Visit the challenge webpage for complete details.

Special events

Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi

Wednesday, June 26th 6:30 p.m. at the Marquis Theater

Join Ilsley Library at the Marquis Theater for this free screening on the big screen. Come early to get a picture with the 501st Legion! Tickets will be available at the Marquis starting at noon on the day of the show.

How to See a Black Hole

Tuesday, July 2nd at 7 p.m. in the Community Meeting Room

The idea of a black hole — a region of space whose gravitational pull is so strong that even light cannot escape from it — was proposed just over a century ago. Fifty years later, the discovery of quasars provided circumstantial evidence that black holes may actually exist in the centers of distance galaxies. This past year, an international team of astronomers revealed to the world the very first direct image of a black hole residing in an enormous galaxy 50 million light years away. How did we go from a hypothetical idea to definitive proof in just a century? In this talk Eilat Glikman, Middlebury College Assistant Professor of Physics, presents the many ways astronomers infer the presence of supermassive black holes residing at the centers of galaxies, how we think they grow to such extreme masses, and how they might influence their host galaxies and cosmic environments. Glikman will also explain how the very first direct image of a black hole was taken and what it tells us about the nature of black holes in the universe.

The Legacy of Apollo 11

Monday, July 15 at 1 p.m. in the Community Meeting Room

Louis Varricchio

Middlebury resident and former Nasa senior science writer Louis Varricchio offers a 50-year look back at the historic and scientific legacy of the United States’ first mission to land astronauts on the Moon in July 1969. Varricchio was also a producer of science-related documentaries for Prairie Public Television and Public Radio International. Today, he is an adjunct science instructor at Community College of Vermont as well as the managing editor of the Vermont Eagle weekly newspaper. He is the author of the science-history book, titled Inconstant Moon: Discovery and Controversy on the Way to the Moon, which was first published in 2006 (and remains in print).