The Sidewalk Astronomer
Newsletter of the Sidewalk Astronomers    February 2010
In This Issue
New Sidewalk Recognition Program
A Story About John Dobson
Update on JD
ISAN 2010!
Seasons Without Borders
Liverpool Event Reports
Asterism Renamed
Geminids in Columbia



Is March 20th and surely we can fit some solar observing into our ISAN 4 day!  Maybe we can host afternoon events, BBQ, or picnics focused on our favorite star the SUN!  


NASA has been "probing" the sun so they have great information on their website you can share  with your guests. Just click on the link below and you will discover


Most people have never viewed the sun through a telescope and only seen eclipses reflected on cardboard with pin holes. 


In planning your day time event make sure ALL PRECAUTIONS are made for your public. Your guests need to be taught safety considerations for solar viewing.


Post your events and let us know your plans for the sun on March 20th.   
We've recently added about 4000 photos to the website! Check it out and see if you are there. We use a photo album service that doesn't work in some browsers, so try Internet Explorer if you have a problem.
Please upload more photos if you have them, we love to see what everyone is up to. PLEASE make sure to include a description of your photos or at least tag them with your country or city.  
Where will you be, and What will you be doing on March 20th?  The world wants to know! 
Help the Sidewalk Astronomers! Make a donation today.
Did you know we have bumper stickers, t-shirts and other branded items? Visit our on-line Store 

Sidewalk Recognition Program!  
 As 2010 unfolds don't forget to log your hours to start on your way to achieving the 50 Hours Sidewalk Astronomy pin.  
In THis Issue
In THis Issue
Welcome Ricardo, Peggy, Patty, Oscar, Emiliano and Elias!
Our new National and Local  Organizers will be hard at work promoting ISAN. Ricardo joins us from Brazil, Peggy for Okalahoma, Elias from Kansas and Patty and Oscar are working from Florida. Emiliano joins us from Florence, Italy.
We need more contacts that are willing to mobilize amateurs in their communities. If you are intersted, please let us know. 
Join Our Mailing List

A Story about John Dobson 
by Ted Blank

A few weeks ago I was in the Bay Area on business. I had an evening free, and since I always bring a small scope and mount with me I set up in front of the Safeway in San Carlos to show people Jupiter and the first quarter Moon.

One lady spent quite a few minutes with me, and eventually told me a story.  Twenty or so years ago she had been walking in San Francisco and had come upon a group of sidewalk astronomers. 

John was among them..... 


Global Astronomy Month

gam logo

 In April 2009, the 100 Hours of Astronomy (100HA) and Galilean Nights Cornerstone Projects of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009) showed what the astronomy community can do working together. As the first truly global outreach event, amateur astronomers, clubs, science centers and others held events by the thousands around the world, attracting the largest public audiences ever. The excitement was contagious as these unified global events, encouraging everyone to look skyward, swept the world.

 AWB's motto and the slogan for GAM -

 One People, One Sky

Astro Book Drive

jd2Latest update on JD  

John will be making a short trip to San Francisco later this month. He'll be giving a talk on Thursday the 25th and doing some sidewalk observing on the 26th. Exact details haven't been confirmed, so be sure to check the website for more information if you can make to either of these events.
John will be up there to "officially" move out of his apartment and relocated to Hollywood. But if you live in the Bay area, don't worry - we're already planning for him to make a stop there this summer on his way to Oregon.
He had a great time in Death Valley. This year we had more people show up so he had company to visit Salt Creek, Badwater, and Mosiac Canyon. I saw him drink the salt water from the creek but he didn't eat any Pickleweed this year....
   Never has there been a man and his movement so profound and embraced internationally than the efforts of John Dobson.  Generations of astronomy enthusiasts and budding astronomers have been touched by bringing the cosmos closer to everyone.
   As with every movement, many caught this vision and joined forces to continue this dynamic mission to the four corners of the earth. These efforts birthed International Sidewalk Astronomy Nights.  Starting with 300 clubs and countless individuals with ISAN 1, it is estimated that well over 20,000 individuals looked through a scope.  Last year for ISAN 3, and the 100 Hours of Astronomy, partnered with International Year of Astronomy - a massive influx of events took place.  At last count our numbers show 2,370  events, however, those were only ones posted and we suspect  there were  many more world wide.   This new surge of  participation has sent waves of enthusiasm around the world several times over.
   With the closing of IYA, countless astronomers needed their sidewalk astronomy fix.  Since there is no program in place for sidewalk astronomy withdrawls... the Sidewalk Astronomers and Astronomers Without Borders are picking up the ball and GAME ON!  Just when you thought it was safe to put your scope in the cloest... Global Astronomy Month is here. 
   Astronomers Without Borders has desginated April as the month for global astronomy.  AWB is focusing on new ideas, new opportunities and new levels of participation.  Their goal for April - GAM is to connect people around the world where it can truly be realized that we are One People with One Sky.
Sidewalk Astronomers and Astronomers Without Borders is inviting YOU to join forces with us to keep this momentum going.  Please go to Astronomers Without Borders for more information.
  Hello, my name is....... 


     Peggy Walker and last month I was invited to join the Sidewalk Astronomers and Astronomer Without Borders Discussion groups.  I was shocked since I truly am a novice in astronomy.  I am just starting my third year.  However, in my club here in Tulsa, Oklahoma, I volunteered to take on the International Year of Astronomy events and I successfully introduced sidewalk astronomy to the membership.

   The schedule was intense but the members were up to it. We offered monthly public star parties at our observatory with a Night Sky Network presentation, and a sidewalk weekend (Friday and Saturday nights) at two locations and even hosted two additionally large events one with solar observing, in addition to all the 100 Hours.

   Now with some free time, I have offered my help to the Sidewalk Astronomers.  So Donna has shown me the in's and out's of the newsletter,  and with Donna's oversight, I happily join the rank and file of Sidewalk Astronomers.  With the exponential growth and the partnering with Astronomers Without Borders, I hope to free up Donna so she can put her energies into the projects that they (SWA and AWB) have in store for us this coming year. 


    Keep posting events and sending in your stories with photos from your activities for this is how we all stay connected, encouraged and motivated.  I can be reached at

ISAN 2010 - Just Around the Corner

by Peggy Walker 

ISAN4Calling all fun-loving, cosmic-watching, telescope touting, global astronomers! Mark your calendars for our 4th Annual International Sidewalk Astronomy Night - ISAN, on Saturday, March 20th, 2010.  Sidewalk groups, astronomy clubs, planetariums, space centers and observatories are gearing up to celebrate with our fellow brother and sister astronomers world-wide. 
On this night, telescopes all over the world will be pointed to the cosmos and foster excitement, marvel and wonder in the eyes of the viewing public.
Every year the momentum grows and so do the crowds.  The word is getting out and new groups participate every year. The stories are overwhelming. 
A flyer is available for distribution and translation on the website - copy freely!  Help get these flyers into elementary, jr., and senior high schools, colleges, public libraries, and public parks and recreation sites.
Let's all keep our fingers crossed for Clear Skies!
by Claudio Argandona and Moira Evans
chile mirror grinding
 I am sending you an account of our very successful "get together" on Saturday  January 9th in Santiago, Chile. The event was hosted by Roberto "Caylo" Zepeda, who along with Ricardo Gonzalez, founded our group Telescoperos Ricardo Gonzalez in 2003.
We named this event "Puliton 2010", which literally means "Extended mirror polishing session", as you see we are real word savers. One of our main reasons for doing this event was to honor two of our oldest members, both well over 70 years of age, and of which one suffers from an advanced stage of Parkinson's disease, but which does not stop him from keeping putting his hands on a mirror and help out with this, his lifelong passion.

Why Sidewalk?

by Rick Walker

With International Year of Astronomy as a vehicle to get out and share astronomy with the public, I chose two significant locations in the Tulsa area to schedule monthly sidewalk astronomy events  for our club.  The Bass Pro Shops in Broken Arrow was very excited to host us and RiverWalk Crossing in Jenks also was happy to give us space along the Arkansas River to set up and share.


It was two of these RiverWalk Crossing events that helps explain why.  You could call this astronomy at any age.  The first memory was at one of our first events.  A ten year old who has been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, was a very intelligent young man who is enthralled with astronomy.  His mother had bought him one of those 600x telescopes you see at the department stores trying to encourage his interest.  He was never successful at seeing anything through his scope.  They read about us offering Sidewalk Astronomy and brought his telescope down to our event.

40 Years of Space Age and Beyond
by Thilina Heenatigala
  Under the International Year of Astronomy 2009 programs, the Royal College Astronomical Society has organized an innovative program called "40years of Space Age & Beyond".This is the largest school based IYA2009 program in Sri Lanka and it consists of a workshop, Science Fiction Competition and an Exhibition of Apollo 11 moon rocks which will be held from 8th to 9th of December 2009.
Seasons Without Borders and
DUSK of IYA in the Philippines
by Dr. Armando Lee
Philipines- Armando 

The planned Seasons without Borders slated for December 22, 2009 did not push through as planned because of rains and cloudy skies over Pasay City, Philippines. It was moved at the last 2 hours before it started. Since the site for the SwB Philippines is a private commercial park it was prudent to move the event the next day to ensure people will be there at the park to more


GOING LIVE IN 3, 2, 1...

    Live webcasting or having live interactions with other clubs during International Sidewalk Astronomy Night is being developed.  Currently Paul Moss is spearheading this task and invites all clubs and groups to get connected this March 20th.  If you want to share your event with other sidewalkers please contact Paul Moss at  This is taking sidewalk to a new level of global interaction and connection. 

Paul MossPaul is not only invloved with Sidewalk Astronomers, he also is supporting Astronomers Without Borders activities.  He is part of the Levin Stargazers in New Zealand, and recently hosted an AWB event called "Beauty Without Borders" featuring Mars and the moon.  This photo was taken  on the Blue Moon Night on Jan. 30th.

Liverpool Event Reports
by Dave Owen and others
Ainsdale Discovery Centre  - January 22, 2010, I arrived, by train from Liverpool Central Station, at about 19:10. As I had not seen any sign of the Sun all day I was not expecting this event to have clear skies. However, the 1st quarter Moon was easily visible in the 20 minute walk to this event.
Liverpool ASJim Stacey was starting to set up his Celestron C6 f12 GoTo telescope when I arrived.
Brendan Martin soon had his 10 inch Dobsonian Reflector set up to view the Moon and Mars. The limiting magnitude, at about 19:15, was approximately 3, within about 30 degrees of the zenith. Below that altitude the fog made it very difficult to see anything.

Geoff Regan brought his Son Chris to this event. Lawrence Ashworth set up his 4 inch refractor and Graham Roberts set up my 3 inch f4 reflector that he had brought in his car. Jim Lawler and Derek Heslin set up their 25 x 100 binoculars and almost immediately proceeded to improvise some dewcaps for them.

Asterism Renamed
by Herman Heyn 
Before dawn, March 23, 1986, as it was gliding westward through SGR, I photographed Comet Halley with myself in the foreground wearing a yellow Halley's t-shirt of my own design which I was then advertising in Sky & Telescope (S&T) and Astronomy (A) Herman's photomagazines.   To the comet's left in my photo appears a small, four stars group arrayed like a slightly askew Latin cross (aka crucifix). Immediately I thought this group was  sufficiently eye-catching to rate named asterism status. By 2006, having noticed no reference to it in any astronomy publication, I decided to dub it "Herman's Cross". (While the names of the 88 constellations are IAU sanctioned, names of asterisms are fair game. Within the 88, anyone can name any star group whatever he/she likes. Its currency rests on the community's acceptance.)

Geminids in Columbia 

 by Leonardo Ariza

Saludos Amigos,The best meteor shower I've seen so far, the Geminds are a sublime spectacle; fascinating! I was in a remote place of this beautiful Colombian geography, with a sky compeltely clear, so we could get these photos. Here I am writing in the middle of nowhere, with a very slow internet connection, but I could not withstand the urge to share this experience with everyone. Separated by space, I experiences this event simultaneously with my father, who was in Bogota and saw a large bolide amid a cloud, but as he tells me, it is also clear skies.

I hope you enjoy reading the newsletter, please submit updates on your local activities to be included in future editions. Send an email to with "newsletter submission" in the subject line (this is important, we get massive amounts of email and articles won't make it to the newsletter without that note). As you can see, photos will be small so make sure that any you send represent well in this size.   
Please forward this email to other amateur astronomers that you feel would enjoy reading it and becoming part of the Sidewalk Astronomers community!
 Carpe Noctem... and share it!

Sidewalk Astronomers