Who is John Dobson?

For an excellent, short biography of John Dobson, written by Pam Reid of the Hollywood Sidewalk Astronomers (and edited by John himself), visit the Randall Museum, where John teaches locally every year. There you will also find an article by John, The Watchers of the Skies.

For many interesting articles about John's unique view of the cosmos, visit this site devoted to his writings.

The San Francisco Sidewalk Astronomers was founded--not by John alone--but by a couple of his young students. After completing a 10" telescope these nine-year-olds tried to join The San Francisco Amateur Astronomers, only to find out they had to be 18 to join! They decided to start their own club: one open to all; meetings to be held on the street! The San Francisco Sidewalk Astronomers were born.

John Dobson is, for lack of a better word, our mentor. He has taught many of us here in San Francisco how to make our own telescopes affordably. More importantly, he has taught us how to use these telescopes: "We have a responsibility to show others what our universe looks like through a telescope--and explain what we're seeing," John would simply say. John was featured in the PBS series, The Astronomers, and was a guest on The Johnny Carson Show, a couple of years ago. As Donald Goldsmith writes in his companion book to the aforementioned PBS series, "Not everyone liked him [John]: Most serious amateur astronomers love technology and spend years improving their one-of-a-kind instruments..." It is also true that John can be brusque, and downright rude, to those who don't know him, or his message. Also, working against his message, ironically, is his celebrity: some folks follow his words like gospel truth; John is their guru. Some have become as intolerant of views and "other" approaches to astronomy (e.g.: fancy equipment, astrophotography), that it reminds me of the myopic San Francisco club that would not allow young astronomers (our founders) to join!

It is hoped that this Web page can remedy some of these shortcomings, and again invite all amateurs to engage in some form of public astronomy.

Last Update: 01/19/98
Web Author: Ray Cash