One of my biggest heroes is John Dobson. The original open-source, citizen scientist. Dobson and the Sidewalk Astronomers revolutionized amateur astronomy and the way that people look at the stars. He passed away today at the age of 98. The LA Times ran a beautiful obituary:
"John Dobson, a former monk and self-taught stargazer who developed a powerful, inexpensive telescope that almost anyone could build and showed thousands how to do it during five decades as one of public astronomy's most influential evangelists, has died. He was 98.
Dobson died Wednesday at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, said Bob Alborzian, coordinator of the Burbank chapter of Sidewalk Astronomers, an international organization that Dobson helped found in 1968. Dobson had been in poor health since a stroke a few years ago.
Called the "Johnny Appleseed of amateur astronomy," the lanky, ponytailed Dobson started building telescopes in the 1950s when he was a monk at the Vedanta Monastery in San Francisco. His passion for the hobby led to his expulsion, freeing him to become a roving ambassador for the simple joys of studying the nighttime sky.
"He really wanted to just share viewing the sky with people," said Anthony Cook, astronomical observer at Griffith Observatory. "He created a hobby and a type of telescope that ensured that people could build their own and look farther across the universe than was possible for most people before his time."
Dobson used cheap or salvaged materials such as ship portholes and cardboard tubing to make his telescopes, the most radical feature of which is a simple, sturdy and highly effective wooden mount that allows users to easily point the scope at any spot in the sky..."