The Sidewalk Astronomers was founded
by John Dobson in San Francisco in 1968 and we now have members all over the world. What we consider to be our primary work
is: 1)giving the people of this planet a chance to see, with their own eyes, celestial objects through good-sized telescopes,
and 2) providing them with information about what they are seeing. We never charge for this service, and anyone who does is
not affiliated with our organization! In order that more people may own and use telescopes for this purpose, we also teach
classes and offer assistance in low-cost telescope making.
In urban areas,
we set up our telescopes in places where people are likely to be passing by - busy street corners, shopping malls, movie theaters,
fairs, etc. In the cities, we use mainly 10" and 12" Dobsonsians. Our Moon and the planets are very clear, even
with city lights and an 8" telescope. Most of our members build and own their own telescopes, but
it is not a requirement. Many of the people who look through our simple and somewhat primitive plywood and cardboard telescopes
want to build one themselves, so we provide plans and assistance on request.
of the cities, we hold star parties at state, county, and national parks. All of these are free, public service events. We
take larger telescopes - 16" and 18" to the visitor centers and with the rangers, provide evening programs for the
visitors to the parks. During the day, we set up sun telescopes both in
the cities and at the parks. In addition to public viewing,
we provide astronomy programs for schools, libraries, and other organizations that consist of lectures, slide shows, observing,
and sometimes telescope making.
The Sidewalk Astronomers publish an electronic newsletter,
focusing on sidewalk and telescope making experiences. We allow anyone to write articles for our newsletter, as long as the
content is appropriate, you don't have to be a member to contribute a story. Our newsletter is available in print for
those who request and we do ask a yearly donation in the form of membership dues to help offset the cost
of both the electronic and print versions, however, no one is denied membership because of inability to pay dues.
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