Sidewalk astronomy

Sidewalk astronomy

Sidewalk Astronomy refers to a kind of amateur astronomy founded by John Dobson in the 1960s that involves bringing telescopes to urban areas (like sidewalks) to show passers-by some of the more prominent features of the night or daytime sky, free-of-charge.

Sidewalk Astronomy differs from Star Parties in that sidewalk astronomers often visit more populated areas (like sidewalks) instead of congregating in less-urban, dark-sky areas more conducive to star-gazing. The emphasis is on free, public viewing for anyone who wishes to look through the telescope.

This usually involves a single individual or a group of amateur astronomers who bring small-to-medium sized telescopes (usually 6"-10" mirrors) to a busy street and entreat people walking by to look through the telescope. Because the sidewalks tend to be in light-polluted areas, Sidewalk Astronomers often coordinate their nighttime astronomy with times when brighter celestial objects like planets, the moon, and bright stars are visible from the sidewalk location. During the day, Sidewalk Astronomy often includes using a solar filter on a telescope to allow people to view the sun.

The activity was formalized in 1968 with the founding of the [ Sidewalk Astronomers] , which still maintains a set of regional Sidewalk Astronomer contacts, organizes events, and promotes some of the teachings of John Dobson. However, despite this organized body, many amateur astronomers not affiliated with the organization still take to the streets when the sky conditions are favorable and they feel like taking out their scopes to do Sidewalk Astronomy. In addition to this informal side of Sidewalk Astronomy, the use of the term "Sidewalk Astronomy" within amateur astronomy connotes a certain philosophy inspired by Dobson himself: at its core is a kind of altruism and enjoyment that comes from showing people the universe they live in by having them look through telescopes.

The movie, A Sidewalk Astronomer, produced in 2005 by Jeffrey Fox Jacobs, is a documentary about John Dobson and his contributions to amateur astronomy. It contains many shots of Dobson doing Sidewalk Astronomy on the streets of San Francisco.

See also

* Amateur astronomy
* John Dobson
* Dobsonian
* Star party
* A Sidewalk Astronomer
* Amateur telescope making

External links

* [ Sidewalk Astronomers] - The ".com" version of the Sidewalk Astronomers site.
* [ Sidewalk Astronomers] - The ".us" version includes John Dobson's official schedule.
* [ John Dobson's Homepage] - Contains many articles about cosmology and star-gazing written by Dobson.

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