John Dobson, telescope designer, former monk and open source astronomy advocate, dies at 98

The Los Angeles Times has a beautiful obituary for amateur astronomer and telescope pioneer John Dobson. He died on January 15, at 98 years of age. My grandfather was an amateur astronomer, too; like my grandpa, Dobson used and repurposed salvaged or inexpensive materials (ship portholes, cardboard tubing) to craft his telescopes. In Dobson's design, "a simple, sturdy and highly effective wooden mount that allows users to easily point the scope at any spot in the sky" was the most notable feature.
His design was eventually embraced by commercial manufacturers, who advertise the telescopes as "Dobsonians." They remain "one of the most popular telescopes on the market," said Dennis di Cicco, senior editor of Sky & Telescope magazine. Dobsonian telescopes have made important contributions to astronomy, including the discovery in 1995 of Comet Hale-Bopp, the farthest comet ever discovered by amateurs. One of its namesakes, Tom Bopp, was using a Dobsonian.

Alborzian, who had known Dobson since 1968, said he once urged Dobson to patent his design. Dobson refused. "He said, 'These are gifts to humanity,'" Alborzian recalled. "His goal was to open astronomy to the common man."

Read the full article here. A related article at and Sky and Telescope. Here is the announcement on the website for the Sidewalk Astronomers group Dobson founded.