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Thu Jan 16, 2014, 03:36 PM

John Dobson, Inventor of the Popular Dobsonian Telescope, Dead at 98

Source: Universe Today

by Bob King on January 16, 2014

The cosmos lost a good soul Wednesday. John Dobson, famous as the creator of the simple, low-cost Dobsonian telescope, passed away on Jan. 15, 2014. His obituary appeared on the website of the Sidewalk Astronomers:

“It is with heavy hearts that we must report the passing of John Dobson. He died peacefully this morning, Wednesday, January 15th, in Burbank, California. He was 98 years old. He leaves behind a son, numerous close friends, and fans and admirers worldwide.

On March 8th, in honor of John, this year’s ISAN (International Sidewalk Astronomy Night) will be dedicated to his memory. Amateur astronomers around the globe can join in and celebrate John’s life and continue to carry the torch that he lit back in 1968 when he co-founded the San Francisco Sidewalk Astronomers.”

Dobson was born in Beijing, China but moved with his parents to San Francisco in 1927. After spending 23 years in a monastery, some of which time was spent sneaking out to build telescopes and observe the night sky, he left to co-found the San Francisco Sidewalk Astronomers in 1968, a group dedicated to showing people on the street the wonders of the night sky using large (for the time) telescopes.

Read more: http://www.universetoday.com/108150/john-dobson-inventor-of-the-popular-dobsonian-telescope-dead-at-98/



John Dobson, 1915–2014

The long-lived master of sidewalk astronomy died peacefully on January 15th. Emerging from obscurity in 1968, he introduced simple ideas that revolutionized how amateurs make and use large reflecting telescopes.

A simple notice appeared yesterday on the website of the San Francisco Sidewalk Astronomers: "It is with heavy hearts that we must report the passing of John Dobson. He died peacefully this morning, Wednesday, January 15th, in Burbank, California. He was 98 years old. He leaves behind a son, numerous close friends, and fans and admirers worldwide."

Ever since emerging from obscurity in 1968, when he left his order of Vedantan monks and founded the SFSA with students Bruce Sams and Jeff Roloff, Dobson has been a force of nature in amateur astronomy. He'll be remembered most for his novel approaches to making low-cost, large-aperture reflectors. The key was a simple, alt-azimuth wooden mount that anyone could build. Today millions of stargazers worldwide use these Dobsonian telescopes to sweep the nighttime sky.

Dobson was a barnstorming evangelist for the simple joys of stargazing. During the 1980s and 1990s he traveled widely to talk about his two passions: introducing people to the night sky and pondering the complexities of the universe. As time passed, he became more focused on the latter, proffering a framework for cosmology that flew in the face of conventional thinking. (Here's a 6½-minute-long sample of that.)






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Reply John Dobson, Inventor of the Popular Dobsonian Telescope, Dead at 98 (Original post)
mahatmakanejeeves Jan 2014 OP
Octafish Jan 2014 #1
alfredo Jan 2014 #2
secondvariety Jan 2014 #3
Trailrider1951 Jan 2014 #4
denbot Jan 2014 #5
WcoastO Jan 2014 #6
Adenoid_Hynkel Jan 2014 #7
mainer Jan 2014 #8
Adenoid_Hynkel Jan 2014 #9

Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Thu Jan 16, 2014, 03:55 PM

1. The guy loved the sky.

And he made others understand why.

¡Hasta siempre, Hermano!

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Thu Jan 16, 2014, 04:42 PM

2. My big 10" dob weeps.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Thu Jan 16, 2014, 05:18 PM

3. Nice long life.

Clear skies, Mr. Dobson, and thank you.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Thu Jan 16, 2014, 06:17 PM

4. I'm sorry to hear that

I met him once at the first Texas Star Party in Fort Davis in 1982. I was setting up my 6" Newtonian when he comes over, sits down in one of my chairs, and helps himself to a beer out of my cooler. He asked me if I made my scope, and I said yes, I even ground and polished the primary mirror myself. So then we talked for almost an hour about telescope construction. He did not introduce himself, and I only found out later who he was. He was absolutely passionate about astronomy. He will be missed. My sympathies to his family.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Thu Jan 16, 2014, 08:09 PM

5. A giant among men

I met him several years ago at the Griffith Park Observatory, and have a hand made 6" "Dobsonian" in my garage. He has done more for bringing astronomy to the masses then any man in history.
R.I.P. Mr. Dobson.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Thu Jan 16, 2014, 08:47 PM

6. I still have the 10" telescope

I made a few years ago in a summer school class taught by Dobson at WOU....he was a very interesting guy. I confess that I haven't used it very much since then.....I'll have to get it out when this cloudy Oregon weather ends and have a "star party" for passersby on a random sidewalk.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Thu Jan 16, 2014, 11:12 PM

7. He was awesome

I loved his appearances on the Tonight Show - Carson was a big astronomy buff and was a fan of his.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Fri Jan 17, 2014, 07:44 AM

8. my hubby ground his first lens under Dobson's tutelage

Thanks to Dobson, now we've got a garage full of telescopes!

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Fri Jan 17, 2014, 09:26 AM

9. Here's a great interview with him from the late 80s

https://archive.org/details/night_sky_4_james_dobson

You can also play his old cosmology classes on that site

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