Striking Sparks Telescope Awards Program


Striking Sparks History by Robert Ferguson (Youtube Video)



(Photo by Len Nelson)

The Proctor Terrace Elementary meeting room was full of excitement when we celebrated the awarding of five Striking Sparks telescopes to deserving students that had entered the 2015 essay contest. This is the 30th year of the STRIKING SPARKS program where 261 telescopes have been awarded to Sonoma County, California students.

The winners were accompanied by some very supportive teachers that parents that shared the festivities. A cake with astronomical decoration was served by June Ferguson for the group before the telescope winners were announced. We were pleased that our long time sponsor Mark Hejtmanek form Colorado and Paul Doyle, Publisher of the Upbeat Times were also present.

Larry McCune provided a little history of how the program began in Bob Ferguson's basement workshop where telescopes were fabricated to award to students as a way to stimulate an interest in science and astronomy. Young Astronomer President and Robert Ferguson Observatory Docent Hunter Ward addressed the Sparks winners about how he used the telescope he won two years ago and the benefits he received by participating in the Young Astronomers. The winners, teachers, sponsors and mentors were brought to the stage for pictures with the telescopes. After the awards we quickly moved the telescopes outside with the clouds barely cooperating to yield a view of Jupiter and some constellations.

The 2015 Striking Sparks Telescope Winners are:

Madison Parks, Grade 3, Spring Creek Elementary
Chris Giudice, Grade 6, Orchard View School
Tobin Vaske, Grade 6, Mary Collins at Cherry Valley
Eli Leventhal, Grade 3, Mary Collins at Cherry Valley
James Kurniawan, Grade 3, Meadow Elementary

Thank you Orion
Telescopes and Binoculars!

We want to thank Orion Telescopes and Binoculars with providing a discount purchase of the telescopes, Parks Science and Astronomy Center for providing extra 10mm eyepieces and the telescope sponsors: Colleen Ferguson, Richard and Donna Ross, Jim Demanche, Kenneth Frank-AANC and the Hejtmanek Family annual fund.

The telescope winners also attended the March 13th meeting of the Young Astronomers at Dunham Elementary where the more experienced young astronomers provided training on the use of their new telescopes, lens cleaning and planisphere star charts.

Winners automatically become members of SCAS Young Astronomers (YAs) for a full year, receive our monthly newsletter E-News and the Astronomical League's quarterly publication, Reflector. YAs are encouraged to join us for stargazing events and SCAS meetings.

How to Enter

To get the ball rolling, students, parents and teachers are encouraged to obtain an entry packet here:
Striking Sparks Entry Packet
. You will need Adobe Reader to open it.

Applicants must:


You or your organization may sponsor a telescope and participate in this worthwhile program. The cost to sponsor a "Striking Sparks" telescope is $250. An engraved sponsor plaque is attached to each telescope. Contact Larry McCune, Striking Sparks Coordinator, at: