Saturday I took my 8 inch Dobs to the busiest, brightest,
most obnoxious spot any astronomor could ever hope for. A Downtown corner, teeming with people, street lights, cars, neon
signs. Saturday Night- Party Night. The night was hazy, the viewing far from 'stellar', but what a wonderful night it was.
I had over 100 'customers' look at the Moon. I would say that almost all of them were seeing a celestial object through a
telescope for the first time. I bet most of them have never turned even their binoculars skyward. I'll be out next
month with my voice recorder to 'capture the rapture'. Our town is the most diverse of any in the area. We have Google HQ
with all the smart Googleers, young scantily clad gals on their way to the trendy nightclub just a few hundred feet away,
retirees, Stanford profs and students and mendicants of all shapes and sizes. One of my favorite pitiful besotted souls
of the the streets staggered up to the telescope, looked in, and in an instant was a changed person. He actually knew something
of the night sky. His speech became more distinct. I thought he was tearing up a bit, as he gazed into the eyepiece.
He thanked me profusely for the experience. You know, I pass him almost every day and don't think he remembers
me, but hopefully he remembers his view of the Moon.
This is the second night I've done this. Last was in the fall. The
Moon was close to Jupiter, so our moon and his were easy targets. I enjoy the Dobs for its' easy 'slewing'. And you don't
need much magnification to be awestruck by the Moon. I usually use about 30X. I have a nice wide angle 40 mm eyepiece, so
even without guiding, the image stays put long enough for a couple of people to view in succession. It is a bit large
and I think a much smaller scope would be much easier to work with, especially for the Moon. But, you know, people are 'impressed'
that I schleped this monster downtown. It's really not bad- about 45 pounds for both pieces and it's quite eyecatching, with
its' bulk. It looks 'serious'. Maybe that helps the 'Wow!' factor.
It was so
heartening that every person who walked by was curious enough to stop. I remember seeing a little autobiographical film of
Dobson in Haight-Ashbury. As I recall, he couldn't get people to stop. I dunno. I had a line of 4-5 people for
two hours in Mountain View. I only packed up because the Moon went behind a tree and it really was too difficult to see
Saturn. There was a street lamp right in the line of fire. I've given up on Mars. If Saturn is nearby, I don't waste my time
wiith Mars. One wonderful skeptic would not believe that I didn't have some sort of projector inside the tube forming the
image of Saturn. He curiously passed his hand in front of the scope while staring through the eyepiece to make sure it disappeared!
Pretty clever, eh?