STARGAZERS on Wearside will give children in Ethiopia an out-of-this-world experience.
A new project is being launched by the Sunderland Astronomical Society to send telescopes to the Horn of Africa so pupils there can enjoy the wonders of the universe.
Their aim is to collect hundreds of unwanted binoculars from across the North East and to pull them apart so they can use the lenses inside.
David Hughes, vice-chairman of the Sunderland Astronomical Society, said: “A friend of ours called David Kidd, from the South Shields society, is working in Ethiopia as a teacher.
“On going out there he discovered that the closest the children get to seeing the stars is by rolling up a piece of paper and imagining what they might look like.
“So David wrote to me and asked if there were any spare binoculars that people could donate.
“This is when we decided to launch Telescopes for Ethiopia in an attempt to help give those schoolchildren the same opportunity that we have.
“But as the government in Ethiopia applies an import tax on binoculars, our plan is to strip the lenses out and then send them on to be distributed.”
He explained that once the lenses arrive they will then be reassembled to create a number of small telescopes.
David said: “It is a fantastic thing for the North East to be involved in and it will be life-changing for the kids in Ethiopia.
“It was definitely life-changing for me when I first became involved in astronomy and it will teach them so much.”
There is also a plan to take an 11-inch telescope mirror to the main university in the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, which will be used to view the solar eclipse of 2013.
He said: “If this project is successful we plan to extend the model around the world inviting other societies to give help and support to regions where technology and money are hard to come by.”
* If you would like to donate a pair of binoculars please take them to the Washington Wetland Centre where the group’s observatory is housed.