[caption id="attachment_78317" align="aligncenter" width="211"] John Dobson, amateur astronomer and astronomy popularizer, died Jan. 14 at 98 in Burbank, Calif. Credit: Wikipedia
John Dobson, amateur astronomer and astronomy popularizer, died Jan. 14 at 98 in Burbank, Calif. Credit: Wikipedia [/caption]John Dobson, who died on January 15, 2014 at the age of 98 is credited with building the first inexpensive telescope that tens of thousands of amateur astronomers have built. His invention dubbed the Dobsonian telescopes remain a popular item on the market though Dobson never patented the idea and as such, he never benefited financially from this popular item.
For decades, Dobson toured the country in a former school bus titled Starship Centarus giving lectures to thousands of people about the cosmos. Also, he founded an organization called Sidewalk Astronomers that now has members on every continent except for Antartica, and he was the feature of a documentary titled "A Sidewalk Astronomer" directed by Jeffrey Fox Jacobs. Among his book titles include "Astronomy for Children Under 80."
Born to missionary Methodist parents in Bejing, China in 1915, he later spent 23 years as a monk in the Vendanta Society. This Hindu inspired order is noted for its vows of chastity and intellectual rigor. Dobson was expelled from this order in 1967 for spending too much time outside of the monastery with his telescopes.
Dobson is survived by his son, Loren whom he had with Ruth Ballard, a professor of genetics at Sacramento State University who is still living.