Posted on

Famed astronomer Dobson comes to Corydon

Famed astronomer and telescope designer John Dobson will be honored at a reception and astronomy ‘star party’ Wednesday evening, Sept. 26, at 7 at Turtle Run Winery west of Lanesville. Presented by StarGeezer, Side-walk Astronomers and Louisville Astronomical Society, the ‘Evening with John Dobson’ is free and open to the public. The reception will include a visit with Dobson who will speak on amateur astronomy and telescope making, an autograph session, and a winery tour and wine tasting with Jim and Laura Pfeiffer, owners of Turtle Run.
Amateur astronomer Mark Steven Williams of Elizabeth will host the event. He and members of the LAS will set up telescopes for viewing planet Jupiter and various celestial objects.
Known as the ‘father of sidewalk astronomy’ and designer of the Dobsonian telescope, Dobson, 92, completed a degree in chemistry at the University of California at Berkeley in 1943 and worked in a number of defense-related jobs. He joined the Vedanta Monastery in San Francisco in 1944, becoming a monk of the Ramakrishna Order. Having graduated from the university as a chemist, he wanted to see for himself what the universe looked like, so Dobson built his first telescope in 1956. When he looked at the moon with his finished telescope, he was surprised and deeply moved by what he saw. His first thought was, ‘Everybody’s got to see this.’
He began making telescopes with salvaged parts found in and around the monastery. His telescopes were made from discarded hose reels, lumber core cut-outs from school house doors, and scrap wood. His first mirror was ground from a marine-salvage 12-inch porthole glass. Dobson left the monastery in the late 1960s and moved home to San Francisco where he began public astronomy programs on the city sidewalks.
During the past four decades, Dobson has lectured, authored several books and been featured in documentary films. Today, he continues teaching the art of telescope making, astronomy and cosmology.
The Corydon event at Turtle Run is part of a series of appearances by Dobson in the region. Other scheduled events include a Dobsonian Telescope Workshop and Lunar viewing at the LAS Urban Astronomy Center at E.P. ‘Tom’ Sawyer State Park in Louisville the evening before he comes to Harrison County at 7, astronomy programs at area schools on Thursday, Sept. 27, a lecture Friday, Sept. 28, at 7 p.m. at Strickler Hall Room 102 on the University of Louisville campus followed by a Public Star Party at the LAS Urban Astronomy Center at E.P. ‘Tom’ Sawyer State Park.
On Saturday evening, Sept. 29, StarGeezer Astronomy and LAS will present the ‘Mile of Telescopes’ along Bardstown Road in the Highlands area of Louisville. Then, on Monday, Oct. 1, Dobson will host an astronomy program at the Lake Barkley convention center followed on Tuesday, Oct. 2, by the Golden Pond Planetarium’s evening program at Land Between the Lakes. All events are open to the public and free with the exception of the lecture at Uof L. Donations will be accepted at the lecture.
‘John Dobson’s life has been a tremendous inspiration to a great many people, and he’s brought the universe to countless others,’ said Williams. ‘We’re honored to have the opportunity to share an evening under the stars in his presence.’
Next Wednesday event at Turtle Run will go on rain or shine. For more information, visit or call 969-9900.