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How to borrow a telescope

Any full member of our libraries can borrow a telescope for up to 14 days, free of charge. You must be over 18.

Published: 20 January 2021

Last updated: 20 January 2021

If you are over 18 and have a Westminster library card with no outstanding fines or charges, you can borrow a telescope.

The steps to borrowing a telescope are:

  1. Make an online reservation (click on 'select an action', choose 'reserve', then log into your library account with your library number and PIN).
  2. You will receive an email to let you know when the telescope is ready to collect.
  3. Collect the telescope from Westminster Reference Library.
  4. Bring your Westminster library card and proof of address (driving license or official letter such as a bank statement or utility bill).
  5. Sign the Westminster Reference Library telescope borrowing policy and user agreement.

Staff will show you how to safely assemble the telescope and ask you to watch a short 5 minute video on how to use it.


The telescope will be given to you in a bag which is 60cm long by 27cm wide and weighs 8kg. If you are travelling on foot or by public transport, be prepared to carry this weight.

Rules and responsibilities

You can borrow a telescope for 14 days only. The overdue fine for the telescope is £5 per day. There will be replacement costs of £300 if the telescope is lost or damaged beyond repair. If the telescope is damaged, you will be charged a fee based on the cost of repairs.

You are responsible for all items included with telescope. If any of these items is damaged or lost, you will pay a replacement fee.

You agree to read the quick start guide provided with the telescope.

You agree to never look at the sun through the telescope or its finder scope, even for an instant, as permanent eye damage could result. Do not point the telescope at the sun, as parts will melt.

Children should use this telescope only with adult supervision.

About the telescope project

This project aims to provide a gateway to knowledge and inspiration. We want to give people the opportunity to borrow telescopes and explore the night skies for themselves.

The idea for lending telescopes was pioneered in the United States in 2008 by an amateur astronomer, Marc Stowbridge, from the New Hampshire Astronomical Society. It has proved a great success, spreading to over 100 libraries across the USA and beyond.

Westminster Reference Library has a particular historical significance in the field of astronomy as it was built on the site of Sir Isaac Newton's former home, where he lived from 1710 to 1727.

Astronomy talks and events

The library holds regular astronomy talks, events and workshops. Upcoming events are listed on the online library events page.

You can also find out about these events at the library and in the local area by joining our mailing list. Your contact details will not be shared with anyone else.