Borrow a telescope—for free!—from Brooklyn Public Library

Want to get a closer look at NYC's night skies?  Can you really see anything in NYC anyway?  Well, yes - you can see the Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, Venus, double stars, Pleiades, Orion nebula, and more. (But not the sun!)

BPL cardholders can now check out a telescope—for free!—for three weeks at a time. Read the FAQs below to learn more, and use our online catalog to place a telescope on hold.

Frequently Asked Questions

Any BPL cardholder over the age of 13 (Adult cardholder and Young Adult cardholder) with an active BPL account and less than $25 in charges can check out a telescope. Young Adult cardholders will need a parent or guardian to sign their agreement.

Place a hold through the online catalog at this link:

The telescope loan period is three weeks.

Telescopes may be renewed one time if they are not requested by another patron and if you do not owe more than $25 in BILLED charges on your account. You may return telescopes before their due date.

Telescopes can only be checked out and returned at the Reference Desk in the Society, Sciences & Technology (SST) Division on the second floor of Central Library (10 Grand Army Plaza). When you pick up the telescope, you will be required to sign a form agreeing not to point the telescope at the sun. Do not look at the sun with a telescope. The checkout process may take up to 15 minutes.

Absolutely not. There is a risk of severe eye damage or blindness if you look directly at the sun with a telescope. Pointing the telescope at the sun can also damage the telescope’s optics.

No, telescopes must be checked out by the cardholder who placed the hold.

Anytime up to thirty (30) minutes before closing except Sundays. We are not able to arrange Sunday checkouts or returns.

You have seven days before the telescope is released to the next person waiting.

After 28 days past the due date, telescopes are considered lost. Your BPL account will be billed a Replacement Charge for the cost of the telescope ($199). You may be billed to cover any additional parts or accessories of the telescopes that are missing.

When the telescope or its missing parts are returned, all associated charges will be cleared from your account.

You will not be able to place holds on or check out telescopes or any other library materials from BPL.