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Major Jesse Marcel, Sr. – that moment when you know the whole world just changed and your boss sends you out to sell the weather balloon story.
My first encounter with John Dobson came in 1991 when he was featured on the PBS documentary series – The Astronomers.
A few years later, I became very good friends with the past president of the Kansas City Astronomical Society and was fortunate enough to use his 20-inch Dobsonian many times. You haven’t seen the moon until you see it through a telescope like that.
Who was John Dobson and what are some of the words he left behind about space, astronomy, and life that still inspire me?
John Dobson’s (1915-2014) story is compelling. He was an American born in Beijing, China. His mother was a musician and his father taught zoology at Peking University. His maternal grandfather had founded the University.
In 1927, the Dobson family relocated to San Francisco. Young John was a self-described belligerent atheist. Dobson graduated from UC Berkley with a degree in Chemistry and went to work on The Atom Bomb project during World War II.
In 1944, a lecture shifted the direction of Dobson’s young life. He heard a Vedantan swami speak. He later said the swami, “Revealed a world I had never before seen.” Soon joined a Vendantan monastery where he spent the next 23 years.
His primary task was to square modern astronomy with Vedantan teachings. In pursuit of this goal, he started building telescopes and going out into the local community to share stargazing opportunities. He quickly found a calling to spread astronomy to the masses.
By 1968, he helped found San Francisco Sidewalk Astronomers. He’d literally set up a telescope in busy city locations and let people look at what could be seen within a city – mostly the sun, moon, and the planets. Eventually, his desire to bring astronomy to more people led him to create the Dobsonian Telescope. These were large telescopes that could help amateur astronomers see into deep space. However, they could be made relatively cheaply from readily available materials. This revolutionized amateur astronomy.
He realized that he needed to find dark skies and crowds to take his endeavor to the next level. He began touring national parks, doing presentations and allowing people view the universe. He called these “star parties” and the label stuck. Today there are star parties all over the US and the world.
Dobson was brilliant and a character. He entertained his audiences and made astronomy fun. His scientific background allowed him to hob-knob with professional physicists and astronomers and to develop his own theories. By the end of his life, he’d rejected the Big Bang Theory as an explanation of creation.
Below are some quotes I gathered from various talks and TV appearances he made over the years. I think they really bring this amazing man back to life for all of us.
My #UFO Cover Up, EST. 1947 shirt arrived from #Teespring today! What do you think?
You can order your own here.
April and I have lived in Massachusetts for almost four years. As our time here draws to a close, we’re trying mark things off our places to visit list. We’ve been wanting to hike around Walden Pond (yes, that Walden Pond) since we arrived. I hiked part of it alone a couple years ago, but […]
The Ironic Tale of Censoring a Book About Censorship (Fahrenheit 451)
Great discussion on how to end a book. Feedback from authors and readers welcomed.
In the past days , I’ve talked about book openings and middles in my posts. This post talks about the other end of your book, the ending. It will briefly discuss the types of endings and the importance of choosing the right one for your book.
Many sources will tell you not to end your book with a cliffhanger. The reader needs some satisfaction or a happy ending to complete their reading experience. In my opinion, the answer to this is not quite that simple.
As someone who has written a series, I strive to make each book capable of being read as a standalone story. There is, however, a backstory arc for my main character that continues from book to book. What I like to do is resolve the current story within the book but provide a lead in…
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How the hell is it February already? As you may know, I left my day job just before Christmas and am now unemployed/a freelance writer, depending on your definition… I mean, technically I’m unemployed as I haven’t actually earned any money this month, but I have been working my buns off putting stuff in place […]