Borrowing Guidelines

The Seattle Astronomical Society maintains a library of telescopes and astronomical equipment that may be checked out free of charge by members in good standing. If you are new to astronomy, this is an excellent way to learn how to use a telescope and to begin viewing the wonders of the night sky, without having to invest immediately in a telescope of your own. For more experienced amateur astronomers the lending library offers the opportunity to borrow specialized telescopes they may be interested in trying, such as a GoTo SCT, as well as specialized astrophotography equipment.

Length of Loan

The length of a loan depends on the season when the equipment is checked out and is adjusted based on Seattle Climate.

  • Spring and Early Fall : 8 weeks
  • Mid-summer : 4 to 6 weeks
  • November and December : 12 weeks

Normally, an equipment manager will email a reminder shortly before the equipment due date. Members are expected to respond promptly to this notification.

Note, if there are no requests to borrow this equipment, the due date will be automatically extended and you will receive a notification with the new due date.

How To Borrow

Note that SAS requires

  • borrowers to provide complete contact information including address and phone number.
  • borrowers limit to two (2) open equipment requests to help minimize the waitlists.

To borrow from the equipment library:

  1. Sign in as a Seattle Astronomical Society member
  2. Click on the Resources tab to see a list of equipment.
  3. Click on the “Details” link for the item you are interested in borrowing.
  4. Click on the “Borrow” link on the item detail page to borrow it.
  5. Click on the “Yes, I understand.” button to confirm your borrow request.
    • If you have not included either a home or mobile telephone number in your profile, you will be redirected to the ‘Edit Profile’ page to update this information. A valid telephone number is required to borrow equipment. Remember to click the green UPDATE button at the bottom of the page to save changes.


Loaner equipment is the property of the Seattle Astronomical Society (SAS) and borrowers shall take proper care of it while it is in their possession.

Borrowers shall understand that equipment is loaned to them for a specified period, after which it must be returned to the Equipment Manager or transferred to the next borrower in a timely fashion. Loans may be extended by the Equipment Manager when circumstances warrant.

Borrowers should not submit requests for more than two items at the same time without approval of the Equipment Manager.

The Equipment Library team may email members who have borrowed SAS equipment in order to maintain good communication and check on the status of the equipment. Please respond to these messages. SAS wants borrowers to have a good experience.

Please remember that the equipment Library is maintained by volunteers and they appreciate your cooperation. Members who repeatedly miss scheduled appointments or do not respond to emails from the Equipment Library team may lose their privilege to borrow from the equipment library.

Overview of Process

The borrower will receive an automated email confirming his or her borrow request, and the borrower will be placed on the waiting list for the equipment. A member of the Equipment Library team will contact the borrower when the equipment is available for check out, and will also send the borrower a reminder when equipment is due to be returned or transferred. Loans may be extended if no one is waiting to borrow the equipment. The borrower may contact the Equipment Library at any time to return equipment early.

In most cases, an item of equipment is checked out in the order in which it is requested. However, the equipment manager may skip a member who is next in line if he or she has another piece of equipment checked out.

When specific equipment is not checked out, the borrower usually picks up that equipment from the location where the equipment manager stores that equipment. When an item of equipment is already checked out, the equipment manager may either:

  • Request that the equipment be returned by the borrower to the Equipment Manager or an equipment library representative for pickup by the new borrower. This procedure allows Equipment Team volunteers to check the operational condition and collimation of equipment.
  • Request that the equipment be transferred directly from the current borrower to the next. This method is not normally used unless both borrowers are experienced and well known to the Equipment Manager.

In either case, the Equipment Manager will send an email providing instructions for returning or transferring equipment. For returns to the equipment library, the Equipment Manager or representative will designate the place and work out a mutually agreeable time for the return. For the direct transfer of equipment, the returner and the borrower should work out a mutually acceptable time and place to do the transfer. The borrower usually picks up the equipment from the returner’s residence, if parking is readily available, or at a mutually convenient location. In the unlikely event that a transfer location cannot be agreed upon, the returner should return the equipment to the equipment manager, and the borrower will pick it up at a later date. Each person should be considerate of the other person’s time and should be prompt in doing the equipment return or transfer.

The borrower must fill out an equipment transfer form completely, including signature, date and contact information. This form is left with an equipment manager if the equipment is being returned to the equipment library. If the equipment is being transferred between members, this form is should be left with the returner, who is responsible for emailing a copy of the completed form to the Equipment Library manager who arranged the transfer. Equipment is considered checked out to the returner until the Equipment Manager receives the completed form. Returners should wipe off dirt, etc., from the tripod legs, containers, etc. before returning any equipment but please do not attempt to clean the optic surfaces of the telescopes. These are easily damaged. Members are responsible for the condition of the equipment they borrow, and it is important that the borrower go through the equipment checklist carefully when the equipment is picked up, and note any discrepancies.