On any given night around the world, thousands of people peer into deep space because of John Dobson. An 89-year old with a white ponytail and a knack for comedy, John Dobson revolutionized astronomy. “Possessing a quicksilver wit, a gift for turning a phrase that makes scientific concepts accessible, and an energy that belies his nearly 90 cycles around the sun, Mr. Dobson is one of historyÌs greatest popularizers of science,” (Wall Street Journal 9/1/04). He is the inventor of the Dobsonian telescope mount, which changed the field of astronomy dramatically, making telescopes accessible to the public on every continent.
A former Vedanta monk of the Ramakrishna Order, he is a co-founder of “Sidewalk Astronomers,” an organization that encourages amateurs to share their telescopes and knowledge with others on busy city streets and in national parks. As John says, “The Universe is bigger than the Earth; it’s bigger than the solar system; it’s bigger than our galaxy and we owe it to ourselves to notice it.” The film follows John as he tours the country from the sidewalks of San Francisco to colleges, universities, astronomy clubs, star parties and to Stellafane, a convention of telescope makers in Vermont. It features sequences on sidewalk astronomy, telescope making, the Moon, Sun, major planets, galaxies, Big Bang Theory, and the nature of time and space. We also get to know John Dobson, a fascinating thinker, philosopher, teacher, and inventor who encourages us to think about the Universe. This astronomical and cosmological journey is illustrated with actual footage and photos of space shot from satellites and spacecraft as well as animation courtesy of NASA, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Goddard Space Flight Center and the Hubble Space Telescope Institute.