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Telescopes for Telethon: May 10, 2000

by Laurel Dunlap

The Muscular Dystrophy Association has ongoing research related to about 40 neurological and muscular diseases. The scope of their study includes not only many of the different muscular dystrophies, but also motor neuron diseases and diseases of peripheral nerves, as well as metabolic deficiency diseases of muscle; the list goes on. MDA® research has generated new ideas in medical science that extend well beyond the current list of diseases.

David Levy peers through a telescope at the Tucson T4T 1999 event, while wife Wendee (far left) looks on and enjoys a humorous moment. A cameraman for Tucson's ABC affiliate station, tapes footage for the 1999 National MDA Telethon. Photo taken by the author's youngest son Michael Dunlap.

Telescopes For Telethon had its conceptual start three years ago as a vision of David and Wendee Levy, who had a desire to bring the Astronomy Community together to benefit people of all ages who have had their lives forever changed by debilitating health conditions. The National and Canadian Telescopes for Telethon Star Party events couples our desire to explore and share the night sky as amateur astronomers, with a charity donation event benefiting MDA's research and programs. David has spent many years sharing observational experiences and anecdotes with people all over the world. He is a long time supporter of the Astronomical League, and we can extend a heartfelt "Thank You" for his untiring devotion to astronomy education by supporting this very worthwhile project.

This year, it was decided that, here in Tucson, a city wide Tucson Planning Committee would help coordinate and concentrate efforts to best reach our intended objectives. The committee consists of representatives from privately owned local observatories, local astronomy shops, Flandrau Planetarium and Science Center, MDA of Southern Arizona, and the many amateur and professional astronomers who are members of the Tucson Society of the Astronomical League and the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association.


Fort Bend Astronomy Club members enjoyed large crowds of people at a Fort Bend theater for their Telescopes For Telethon event. FBAC became 1st place winners of T4T 1999, winning a 10" Meade LX200 telescope for their MDA contribution ." Photo Credit: Wes Whiddon

The Telescopes for Telethon 2000 Committee, along with David and Wendee Levy, would like to encourage other astronomy clubs or organizations across the nation to join us in supporting the Telescopes for Telethon project with a planned star party of their own. Our Telescopes for Telethon 2000 event is scheduled for Wednesday, May 10, 2000. We recommend that participating clubs schedule their star parties during the week of May 10 through May 13, 2000. However, flexibility is important to us. Each astronomy club might have a different month or day in mind, one that suits the local climate and the needs of its members. Your group should choose any date before or on the MDA Labor Day Weekend Telethon.

A single star shines brightly in its local or perceived group, and contributes its own unique quality to a cluster, constellation, galaxy, or nebula. Every individual contribution adds to the total success. Much like the "steadfast star" of Keats or Frost; we are reminded that charity, "...asks a little of us here," giving each of us the opportunity to help those in need to reach for the stars.

Telescopes for Telethon 2000 - Project Objectives

  • Share our knowledge and love of observing "The Wonders of the Night Sky" with the public.
  • Provide a great venue for a goal that helps us reach the greatest number of people in the public.
  • Increase awareness of the fact that MDA supports research not only for MD, but for many neurological and muscular disorders/conditions that have affected the lives of so many individuals.
  • Raise funds to help MDA's vast research needs.

How to Help. Just Follow these Four Simple Steps:

  1. Choose a date e.g., May 10th through May 13th, any 1st quarter moon, or any other date that works best for your group.
  2. Contact your local MDA branch. They will help you reach your goals.
  3. Have Fun!
  4. Send us information about your event, and how much money you raised, through your local MDA and official club representatives. Closing date for consideration of the 1st and 2nd place prizes is Friday, September 8, 2000. Meade Instruments, Inc., has generously offered to award a 10-inch LX200 in support of Telescopes for Telethon.

Prizes for Participating Organizations:

The organizations or clubs raising the most money will receive: 1st Place-Meade 10-inch LX200 Telescope. 2nd Place-Guest lecture appearance by David H. Levy for your club or group. If you have additional questions, feel free to contact Laurel Dunlap via e-mail: or phone 520-544-7780. To view a current list of MDA diseases being funded for research, visit the MDA website:

(Laurel Dunlap is ALCor of the Tucson society of the Astronomical League (T.A.L.), National Committee Chair for Telescopes For Telethon 2000, and T4T 2000 Tucson Planning Committee Chair.)

This article originally appearred in the February 2000 issue of the Reflector, our great quarterly newsletter.

MDA is a registered trademark of the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

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This page is maintained by Matt Ganis for the Astronomical League. Comments, corrections, and suggestions can be addressed to  This page last updated April 9, 2000.
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