I spent the last few weeks digging into a number of citizen science projects and how they've influenced their scientific fields. Much of the research was centered around amateur astronomy and dobsonian telescopes. I think there are (hopefully) a lot of parallels with the trajectory of the dobsonian telescope and OpenROV.
I had a spell of inspiration last week that brought me headfirst into the fascinating world of amateur astronomy. It started on Thursday night as I finally picked up and began reading Timothy Ferris’Seeing in the Dark: How Amateur Astronomers Are Discovering the Wonders of the Universe, which is basically a book-length love letter to amateur astronomy and the passionate people who’ve been involved. I spent the next 48 hours devouring the book, following references online, watching documentaries, and even attending a star party at the Griffith Observatory.
For me, the most inspiring and uplifting information I learned about amateur astronomy was through reading, and watching a documentary, about John Dobson. Dobson is best known for his namesake telescope design, the Dobsonian Telescope. His design allowed for large-lens telescopes to be made at very low costs and helped incite the amateur astronomy revolution. He’s not as famous (but probably should be) for dedicating his life to promoting amateur astronomy. After being kicked out of a Vedantan monastery in 1967 (at age 42) for spending too much time building telescopes, he founded the San Francisco Sidewalk Astronomers and has spent the past 40+ years providing passerby’s the opportunity to view the moon and stars. He’s dedicated his entire life to giving anyone and everyone a chance to view the cosmos and help them see the beauty of our universe.
The entire weekend experience has driven me to one important conclusion:
Science needs more amateurs.