Today's the big day, the one that Ioannis and I have been planning since Munich. We invited the Berlin astrophotographers to join us at Lustgarten for a night of sidewalk astronomy.
When two guys set up a telescope in a public space, it's an odd thing.
When a bunch of people set up two telescopes, now people are wondering: "Just what are they looking at? I should take a try."
In the evening, we meet Ioannis and a few of his astronomer pals at a Brewery, a Brauhaus, to talk about the standard astronomer things: the size of the Universe, the tragedy of light pollution, and the miracle that we can use technology to learn anything at all about the world beyond Earth.
Victor says he brought a telescope that weighs 80 kg. Now that will attract some big attention! We order some typical Berliner beers, and then head over to our chosen spot.
As we begin deploying the telescopes, a few more people show up that responded to our event! They don't bring telescopes, but they do bring knowledge. We meet a few physicists that are very excited to learn about more about sidewalk astronomy.
And that's what it's all about. Creating conversations, strangers developing new common interests, realizing that because we live on planet Earth, we all share the same atmosphere, and a quick peek at Jupiter can remind us of that.
At the beginning, I find myself retelling the story of John Dobson. John Dobson was born in China and then moved to California. After getting a college education in Chemistry and holding a wartime job, he became a Hindu monk. While practicing at the monastery, Dobson was given this task: to reconcile the Vedantu teachings with the modern science of Cosmology.
This task led him to invent a new type of telescope. He built it out of cardboard and garden equipment, and soon found himself wheeling it into town to share with people on the street. He snuck out of the monastery so often that after 27 years, he was kicked out. At that point, he dedicated his life to the practice of sidewalk astronomy, founded the San Francisco Sidewalk astronomers, and dedicated the his life to "showing people what the rest of their Universe looks like".
We're so happy that in Berlin, so many people joined us to share in this tradition. Thank you Ioannis, Victor and friends for so generously hosting us on this night. I hope you had as much fun as we did!
Photo Credit: Ioannis of the Berlin Astrophotography Meetup