November 2008
Sidewalk Astronomers Newsletter
Elections, IYA, and More 
In This Issue
New SA Logo
Karma Gazing! Pass it on!
Death Valley 2008
Sidewalk Astronomers Elections
International Year of Astronomy
Update on John Dobson
International Exchange
Baltimore Sidewalk Astronomer
New Sidewalk Astronomers' Logo

Thanks to Gerard Pardeilhan, we have a new, updated logo for the Sidewalk Astronomers. We ask everyone to place it on thier websites and in any club literature produced. The logo is available with Sidewalk Astronomers written across the bottom and we have it in different resolutions for web and print. Please change the old one for this newer version.
Karma Gazing!
One of our members recently sent an email with a link for an experiment, Karma Kitchen. Basically, you pay for the next person's meal and we thought we should try Karma Gazing. It just seemed like such a natural fit, we are passing on something valuable for free, or as Pancho said "we don't do it for free, we do it as a gift!"
So maybe we can encourage others to pass on that gift, or at least one of thier own. Everyone, please go to and download the Smile Cards and hand them out when doing public events. Ideally, the cards are to be given or left anonymously, but we are kind of in the dark and it isn't that we know the public at the eyepeice.
Let's just try. With so much going on this year it could be that we inspire thousands of people to commit random acts of kindness. Can't hurt and it might help a little!
Donate to help the Sidewalk Astronomers!
Suggested donations/dues
Individuals $15
Clubs $30
Students $10
We appreciate donations in any amount.
"What's Up" at JPL
Another of the great resources of JPL is the monthly "What's Up" video podcast done by Jane Houston Jones. Besides giving you information about what and where to look in sky, she adds information about current missions which will be interesting to the public as they observe through your scope.
The podcasts can be downloaded as well as the transcripts at or visit the Old Town Sidewalk Astronomers website at
While you're at it, join the Saturn Observing
program and/or become a Solar System
Yearly Death Valley Trip

Once again we are inviting everyone to join us on our yearly Death Valley trip. We arrive in Death Valley on Dec 26 and leave on Dec 30. John gives a talk at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center on Dec 27.
This is not an all-night observing kind of star party event. We do daytime solar observing, telescope building or repair and evening viewing for the public at the visitor center. When the public goes leaves, so do we and since they are hiking all day, they leave pretty early (by 10PM or so).
But it is a nice trip. Every year, people from all over the world tell us the reason they come to Death Valley at that time is because they know we will be there.
If you are interested, send an email to and I'll send you information about lodging, activities, camping etc. Most things fill up very quickly and it might be difficult already to get hotel rooms or campsites, but we can offer alternatives.
Join the Sidewalk Astronomers Mailing List 
3rd ISAN Button
We need artwork for the 3rd ISAN button.
Originally, we thought to try to incorporate the 100 Hours of Astronomy Project logo since ISAN will take place during that time, but since we've decided that it would be difficult if not impossible to get all of that artowrk on one small button.
If you are artistic, please send your designs to us. You can see the designs for the previous two buttons on the shopping page of our website.
Designs should include some representation of the telescope, astronomy and international aspects of ISAN.
Welcome Burbank Sidewalk Astronomers!
Bob Alborzian and Tom White have been doing events in the Burbank area for some time and thier group has grown enough that they now have thier own website.    
Most months you can find the Burbank Sidewalk Astronomers on the bikepath at least once and during the fall and winter they do several events at the Burbank and Los Angeles Public Libraries. 

Quick Links
Updates to Website
Please take a look at the website if you haven't visited lately. Several more of John Dobson's articles have been added; some of them are new and some are older ones we recently found (thanks, Pam).
Also we've made changes to many of the pages, the updating is constant. Please check to make sure that your contact information is correct if posted on the site. Also, we always can use articles.
If you have sent something that you don't see posted, please send it again. Our apologies, sometimes the amount of email is so great things get overlooked.
If you have photos, you can upload them yourself by going to our photo album link which is on the gallery page. Please don't send us your photos, we just don't have time to post them ourselves. 
Join the Night Sky Network
Another great program from JPL and the ASP is The Night Sky Network. They have lots of resources for amateur astronomy clubs. Ken Frank works on this project and he is extremely excited at the interest and growth of the NSN. 
Visit the website to get more information at
  Sidewalk Astronomers
It is a very busy time and we have a lot of information to cover in this newsletter. I also need to apologize, I have been using the newletter to update everyone on our "formal" activities (ISAN, IYA) and I completely forgot about including some really good observing reports and articles that members have sent.  I am correcting that oversite in this newsletter.
With all the activites that we have happening, it would be great if someone would like to help with the newsletters. This is a really easy program to use, so please let me know if you are interested.   
Sidewalk Astronomers Board of Directors Elections

It is time again to submit nominees for officers/board members for the Sidewalk Astronomers. It would be nice if we had more international representation on our board.

These are the current holders and nominations that we have so far. If you wish to nominate yourself or someone else or would like more information about the duties of these officers, please send an email to . Nominations are open until Nov 30, 2008. A final list of nominees will be sent in the December newsletter for voting.  One note, nominees for President and Secretary/Treasurer must be in the Los Angeles area because that is where our office, bank, and mailing address are located and we don't have the resources to move the office.

President: Bill Scott
Vice President: George Willis
Secretary /Treasurer: Katy Haughland
Managing Director - Donna Smith
Board Member: John Dobson
Board Member: Denis Svechkarev/Kharkov, Ukraine
Board Member: Kenneth Frank/San Francisco, Ca, USA
Board Member: Herman Heyn/Baltimore, Md, USA
Board Member: Jeffry Newsome, Driggs, Id, USA
Board Member: Jeffrey Jacobs/Rye, NY, USA
Board Member: Hector Vasquez, Los Angeles, Ca, USA
International Year of Astronomy (IYA)

By now you are all probably aware of the IYA and are making plans to participate. There are numerous projects to which the Sidewalk Astronomers can be beneficial. Below are descriptions of some of these projects and the links to their individual websites. Please check our website frequently for updates and Sidewalk participation in IYA. Because of the number of projects, we won't be having any registration forms on the Sidewalk Astronomers website, you will need to register for projects on the project website but, we do ask that you 1) note your Sidewalk Astronomers affiliation when you register (ex.
astronomy club name/ Sidewalk Astronomers) and  2) post your observing reports and results on our website as well. We are setting up several message boards for that purpose. As you can tell, 2009 will be a busy year and many of these projects overlap, hopefully you will be able to keep all the projects and acronyms sorted out. Please let us know what you are doing!
We have Sidewalk Astronomers Regional Organizers for these events.
Antarctica - Donna Smith
North America - Katy Haugland   
Central America - Hugo Sanchez
South America - Marcelo Souza   
South Western Asia - Azhy Hasan   
Southern Asia - Manoj Pai
Eastern Asia - open
Europe - Denis Svechkarev
Australia/Oceania - Paul Moss    
Africa - open 
We also have National Organizers for several countries but need more. If you are interested in heading the efforts in your country, please contact your Regional Organizer.

100 Hours of AStronomy (100HA) IYA Cornerstone Project
April 2-5, 2009. This project will depend heavily on amateur astronomers, we need to get out and do as many public programs as possible during this time. Depending on local customs and conditions, it would be great if everyone would do public library programs on Thursday, April 2; school programs on Friday, April 3; International Sidewalk Astronomy Night (ISAN) on Saturday April 4th, and afternoon solar observing on Sunday, April 5th.  Sidewalk Astronomy is major component of the 100HA, WE NEED YOU!! Please check the website, and sign up for that email list and start registering your events. (note: an updated website is in testing mode and should be up and running in the next few days.).
PLEASE be sure to register for this event because we won't be having a separate registration for ISAN and we expect this to be the best ISAN so far.
Dark Skies Awareness (DSA) IYA Cornerstone Project
"Dark Skies are a Universal Resource" is one of seven primary US themes being developed for the International Year of Astronomy in 2009. Dark Skies Awareness has also been selected as one of the dozen major international "cornerstone" projects for the larger IYA effort. There are several activities and projects included in this theme. Astronomy Nights in the (National) Parks ; Dark Skies Discovery Sites ; GLOBE at Night ; Earth Hour ; The Great Switch Out ; Great World Wide Star Count ( and we hope that you register for these activities and help to educate the public about the importance of dark skies. We would also be interested to hear ideas about how the Sidewalk Astronomers can be more active in this area, so let us know what you are currently doing or what you would like to do. One idea was to show the public photos of a dark sky when holding public events in light polluted areas. For more information: and
Universe Awareness (UNAWE) IYA Cornerstone Project 
UNAWE is an international outreach activity that uses the beauty and grandeur of the universe to inspire very young disadvantaged children. Goals are to: broaden children's minds, awaken their curiosity in science, and stimulate global citizenship and tolerance. There are several national programs, but this should and could be done in every country.  We should all pledge to do progams in underpriviledged areas at least a few times in the coming year. 
Galileoscope  IYA Cornerstone Project
The Galileoscope project is an official cornerstone project and is perhaps the most visible project of the International Year of Astronomy. It will have children in the US and worldwide build Galileoscopes in school, museum, nature and science center, national park, and library settings. Another key venue is the distribution of the telescopes to over 50 amateur astronomy clubs in the US with a track record in doing extensive educational outreach to their community. In each of these venues, the Galileoscope is embedded in a much larger educational context after extensive peer review of the educational design and educational benefits of the project. Thus the broader and longer-term educational role of the Galileoscopes in astronomy and physical science education is assured.
The Galileoscope is not identical to Galileo's telescope - It is better. He had a single front or objective lens that generated spurious colors-our children will have a two lens doublet gathering light in an achromatic, color-accurate arrangement. Galileo had a single negative lens eyepiece that provided a very narrow field-of-view. Our three-lens eyepiece design gives a much wider and flatter field-of-view.

400 Years of the Telescope IYA Special Project
Slated for worldwide release in January 2009, the film 400 Years of the Telescope weaves a far-flung tapestry of astronomy, technology, and humanity, exploring how Galileo Galilei's's first telescopic observations of the heavens forever changed man's views the universe-and his place in it. The film zips across dozens of time zones and six centuries, from the days of Copernicus to recent findings from the Hubble Telescope.  There is a companion planetarium program, Two Small Pieces of Glass, educational webcasts and other components designed to spin off the film and planetarium program. Worldwide distribution is part of the plan; the film will be translated into the languages of 40+ participating countries. Whenever this film is shown in theaters, there should be Sidewalk Astronomers outside allowing the public to look through a telescope. Please check the website to stay informed about the viewing schedule. 
The World at Night (TWAN) IYA Special Project
The World at Night (TWAN) will create and exhibit a collection of stunning photographs and time-lapse videos of the world's most beautiful and historic sites against a night-time backdrop of stars, planets and celestial events. These images will present the night sky to the public in an accessible and understandable manner. The sky rises above all the landmarks and symbols of different nations and regions creating a bridge to understanding and friendship. When borders vanish, political and cultural differences become irrelevant. The universal nature of astronomy provides the means to connect people worldwide through this common interest.
Gailiean Satellites IYA Special Project
We propose here to participate to the observation of the mutual phenomena of the Galilean satellites of Jupiter, joining the international network of observers. This network started working more than 20 years ago gathering scientific data of high interest allowing to know more about the Galilean satellites of Jupiter: Io and its volcanoes, Europa and its ice crust, Ganymede and Callisto. These observations are very rare since they are possible only at the time of the equinox on Jupiter, i.e. only every six years. The next opportunity will take place in 2009. Don't miss this opportunity the more so as these observations are possible even with a small telescope.
Portal to the Universe Cornerstone Project
The Portal to the Universe (PTTU) seeks to provide a global, one-stop portal for online astronomy content, serving as an index, aggregator and a social networking site for astronomy content providers, laypeople, press, educators, decision-makers and scientists. PTTU will feature news, image, event and video aggregation; a comprehensive directory of observatories, facilities, astronomical societies, amateur astronomy societies, space artists, and science communication universities. Everyone should register for this project.
earlUpdate on John Dobson
John fell and injured his foot a few weeks ago but it is healing nicely. Unfortunately, becasue of his foot he was unable to travel to San Francisco and is still in Los Angeles. He has stated that he is ready to resume his former schedule and is looking forward to speaking to clubs and attending star parties. If you are interested in having JD speak to your organization or attend your star party, please contact us at . John also wishes to thank everyone again for all the letters, cards, emails, and calls that he received while he was recouperating from his stroke.
John had a nice 93rd birthday celebration at the P.A.T.S. conference in Pasadena in September. He was especially please that he was introduced and got to spend time with his great friend David Levy.
The above photo was taken when John visited his friend Earl Junghaus in Menlo Park. Earl is the artist who did the drawning for John's telescope plans and the wooden cover book. Photo taken by Earl's wife, Baker.
Sidewalk Astronomers International Exchange
This is one of the programs that we have been so eager to implement. In the past, it has mostly been John (and sometimes me) traveling to visit other countries and we wanted the chance to host some international amateurs here in the US. In August, we finally had the opportunity when we were host to Denis Svechkarev and Anton Viseburg from Kharkov, Ukraine. We had visited Kharkov in 2002 and met Denis again in the Crimea in 2006 and were happy to finally have him as a guest here.
We were to meet our guests in Tucson, at Kitt Peak but were surprised by them early when we all ended up at the same motel. The guys at Kitt Peak were fantastic, giving us a great tour and lunch and we were hosted later that evening by David and Wendee Levy. It was a perfect way to start our adventure.
Arriving back in Los Angeles, we arranged dinner with Sidewalk Astronomers President Bill Scott and several of John's friends at the Vedanta Society in Hollywood, special tours of JPL, Mt. Wilson, Palomar, and Griffith. HUGE thanks to Mike Simmons, Scott Kardel, Don Nicholson, Jane and Morris Jones, and Tony Cook. Without the assitance and support of these guys, the trip would not have been a success and they provided some of the greatest memories for these visitors.
One of the times we enjoyed the most was attending an evening showing of a film at the Hollywood Forever Cemetary. They screen old films on the side of one of the buildings in an undeveloped area of the cemetary (we weren't sitting of graves!) Since we had a telescope, we took it out and did some sidewalk or graveside astronomy.
After seeing the sights in the LA area, we headed up to San Franciso and besides the usual attractions like the Golden Gate Bridge, tours of Lick Observatory, Chabot Science Center and meetings with some of the San Francisco Sidewalk Astronomers were on the agenda. Special thanks again to Ken Frank and the staff of Lick and Chabot for going out of thier way to make this trip a success.
There are so many people to thank, I have to apologize for leaving many of them out of this short article. Denis has written a more extensive account and as soon as he has it translated, it will be posted on the website. 
Herman Heyn - Baltimore Sidewalk Astronomer

At an age when most people are retiring, Herman Heyn, 77, discovered his calling.
"I had many different jobs, never had a career in one, though," Heyn said. "I worked in sales, as a lab technician, at Pratt Library two years through a 'Great Society' program of Lyndon Johnson's that trained local people to work in public venues.
"The longest job I ever had was 12 years as an office manager and truck driver for a small construction company."
But if you go to Baltimore's Inner Harbor on a clear night this fall, you'll likely find the spry, gray-bearded "street corner astronomer" pointing out Jupiter's moons, Mars, or the rings around Saturn to wide-eyed children, tourists, and, once, to an MIT planetary scientist.
Heyn gave fact sheets about the planets to interested observers and copies of a New York Times story about astronomer Carolyn Porco to awe-struck young girls like Marwa. He maintained a steady banter about the position of the planets, listening and engaging customers in lively dialogue.
"It took me a while, but I realized I like being onstage," Heyn said.
Heyn takes his science, not just his act, seriously. He's tentatively been credited with identifying a previously unnamed asterism -- a pattern created by bright stars and a subset of a larger constellation. Heyn's asterism, "Herman's Cross," is a large four-star configuration in the constellation Sagittarius. So far, it's recognized by two websites, including the site of astronomy software company Bisque.
Early in his "new" career, in 1994, in the aftermath of the much-anticipated collision of the Shoemaker-Levy Comet into Jupiter, Heyn learned serendipitously that MIT planetary scientist Heidi Hammel, leading the Hubble Space Telescope Team's work nearby the Johns Hopkins' Homewood campus, had snuck a peek through his "street corner" telescope.
"It doesn't matter how many thousands of times since that I've looked at Jupiter, Mars, Saturn's rings, the mountains on the moon or the Big Dipper," Heyn said. "They always look beautiful to me." 
Originally published by By Ron Cassie
Frederick News-Post 
Membership and Renewals
We haven't asked for membership or renewal dues in quite a long time. If you wish to vote in the elections, your dues must be current.
This is a state law and required to keep our current nonprofit status.
The Sidewalk Astronomers never refuse membership because of nonpayment. Any purchase on our website is a "gift" for your donation.
We have several new programs we wish to  implement, such as observing recognition, further exchange visits, possible telescope donations, etc. We need funds for these projects, please donate today.

Donna Smith
Sidewalk Astronomers