Astraea—The Star Maiden

Original article appears in GuideStar June, 2015.

by Amelia Goldberg

When I was given this telescope, it was in pretty bad condition and took a lot of work to turn it into a usable telescope. I decided that I wanted it to be a special telescope, one that would attract young girls.  I turned to Greek mythology for a name for the telescope.  I chose Astraea because in Greek mythology, Astraea means “Star Maiden” or “Star Goddess”.  She was believed to be the daughter of Zeus and is said to be the last of the immortal gods to live among humans at the end of the Golden Age.later abandoned earth as the increasing violence and ignorance became too painful for her to bear. When she returned to the heavens, Zeus placed her in the sky as the constellation, Virgo.

I painted the telescope pink to denote that she is female and because most young girls like that color. Using the mythological background of Astraea, I decorated the telescope.  I placed her name on the scope using black letters.  Since little girls love bling, I blinged her up with jewels befitting a goddess. I used black Swarovski crystals to draw the constellation, Virgo, above her name and to draw an imaginary star field around the black words, “The Star Maiden”.  I gave her a necklace of pink crystals.  Astraea is pink and she sparkles.  What more could you ask for?

So far, I have only had Astraea out at three star parties, two at schools and one at the George Observatory.  Usually, these school star parties are held during the month when the moon is easily visible, even before dark.  Also, there is ample light around the school so that the telescopes are easily seen even if there is no Moon in the sky. Therefore, the kids can see the details on the telescope. Astraea is a real hit and attracts not only girls but boys and adults as well.  During the session at the George, one mother came up to the telescope and told me that she had tried to get her three year old girl to look through one of the other telescopes on deck and the little girl refused.  She pointed at my telescope and said, “No, the pink one!”  To me, that was just priceless. Both young girls and young boys say that it is “sooo cool” and most of the older kids and adults say that it is just awesome. I knew that little girls would love the telescope but I was totally amazed at the reaction of boys and adults to the scope, they like it, too. 

I took Astraea to the Texas Star Party this year and entered her in the ATM review.  I received a Certificate of Merit for ATM- Outreach Telescope Design & Build.  I was very pleased with that exposure of the telescope to those who had not seen it out on the upper field.

I have received only positive comments about the pink telescope. At TSP, many of the people that I talked with hope that I’ve started a trend with this telescope and hope that others will follow suit.  Who knows, we might start seeing telescopes of all colors and all kinds of decorations.  I certainly hope so. It is a real joy to do outreach with this telescope. The kids love looking through it and I’m having so much fun. We need to do anything we can to attract young people, especially young girls, to astronomy and to make it fun for them. They will certainly remember looking through this telescope.

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