Purpose: The purpose of the RAC Equipment Loan Program is to support Rappahannock Astronomy Club (RAC) members with equipment options either as a means to determine the best telescope for them to purchase or to gain familiarity with the operation of telescopes, mounts, and their accessories. The loan program also encourages new RAC members to use the available equipment as an introduction to amateur astronomy and to further their interests in the hobby. This program can be helpful for individuals who have not yet purchased their own equipment.

Terms of Use: RAC owns several telescopes, mounts, and accessories maintained and accounted for by the RAC Equipment Manager, whose responsibilities include storing, tracking, servicing, and maintaining RAC equipment so that it is in a useable condition for borrowers. The RAC Equipment Manager will also conduct a training workshop to ensure borrowers are familiar with the operation of any loaner equipment before it’s checked out. No one is exempt from this requirement. Because of their inherent value and expense to repair if damaged, some of RAC’s telescope packages have been designated with experience levels: beginner, intermediate, or advanced.

Beginner: Someone with little to no experience using a telescope. A beginner might also be someone who has not learned the sky sufficiently to find objects to view without assistance, beyond solar system objects.

Intermediate: Someone who has used a telescope before is familiar with assembly and disassembly of a telescope and mount, and can find objects in the sky without assistance. Intermediate astronomers can also set up and operate a non-motorized equatorial or altitude/azimuth (Alt/Az) mount with slow-motion controls.

Advanced: Someone who can easily set up and disassemble telescopes with motorized or computer-operated German equatorial or fork mounts. Usually, this person is ready to purchase his/her first telescope. An advanced user can also easily find objects in the sky with the use of a star chart or computer program without assistance.

  1. Regardless of experience, all borrowers must be members of RAC with all dues current.
  2. Equipment may be checked out for a period of up to 30 days. Borrowers may request up to two 30-day extensions unless another member is waiting for the borrowed equipment. All borrowed equipment must be returned to the RAC Equipment Manager within 90 days.
  3. Borrowers must maintain accountability for checked out equipment and all accompanying accessories. Borrowers will be given a precise list of items borrowed and are responsible for returning all items on that list.
  4. Lost or damaged equipment must be reported as soon as possible to the RAC Equipment Manager. Borrowers are expected to replace, at fair market value, any equipment that is lost, stolen, or cannot be easily repaired.