John Dobson & Sidewalk Astronomers

At our June 2019 monthly meeting, BAS member, John Pitts, delivered an excellent talk on one of the greatest influencers of amateur astronomy, Mr John Dobson. For those of you owning Dobsonian telescopes, John Dobson was the inventor of this simple to use telescope design. We learned how John Dobson was a monk in a Californian seminary while conducting a somewhat clandestine program of mirror grinding, telescope making and public astronomy outreach. Eventually the seminary, and John, decided their heavenly interests were a little too divergent and so John returned to the secular world and concentrated all his efforts on encouraging public interest in large aperture simple telescopes and casual observing. From his efforts the Sidewalk Astronomers initiative was born and spread across North America and far beyond. John Dobson also travelled widely to spread his message and even visited Queensland Astrofest in 1995.

BAS members have been continuing in the footsteps of John Dobson for many years. Our school nights and public observing evenings at Mt Coot-tha and Maleny perpetuate the philosophy of Sidewalk Astronomers. BAS members are encouraged to get their Dobsonian telescopes, and all other designs, out of the cupboard and actively support our version of Sidewalk Astronomy.

John Pitts sharing some of the life and achievements of John Dobson.