35 Who Made a Difference: John Dobson

Come one, come all. Share the sky with the father of sidewalk astronomy


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Leading people out for a reach is what bothers some astronomers. His attempted reconciliation of a religious view with a scientific one has made for critics. "It's not that he thinks outside the box," reflects filmmaker Jacobs. "He doesn't even see the box." Or, for that matter, believe in the Big Bang. "First of all, they have it coming out of nothing and that's impossible," he says. "And then they have it coming out of a black hole and that's just as impossible." Dobson believes in something bigger than the bang. "He thinks he's got the secret to the universe," complains one astronomer. Chortles Dobson, "Hundreds of years ago they would have already burned me at the stake."

Immolation aside, Dobson has left an enduring astronomical legacy. He is fond of quoting the New Zealand astronomer Graham Loftus: "What we need is a big telescope in every village and hamlet, and some bloke there with that fire in his eye who can show something of the glory the world sails in." He could, of course, have been talking about his friend John Dobson.


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