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A FACETS ENCORE ENGAGEMENT!
A SIDEWALK ASTRONOMER
"An inspiring film about an inspired teacher. It should leave all viewers with an ounce of curiosity eager to hit the streets with Dobsonian telescopes of their own." -New York Times
"Entertainin, painlessly educational...the camera captures a discourse that is already well-rehearsed -- and fascinating -- performance art." -Variety
Recommended! "Engaging" -Chicago Reader
"[Dobson] holds court, employing easy-to-understand metaphors to make the cosmos sound wonderful and worthy" -The Onion
John Dobson has been dubbed the Pied Piper of Astronomy, and for good reason. Since designing
his first telescope in 1956, the self-taught cosmologist and former monk has revolutionized
amateur astronomy, showing thousands how to build their own high-power, low-cost telescopes. With
his silver ponytail and knit beret, the octogenarian might seem an eccentric retiree sharing a
hobby as he beckons passers-by to gaze at the moon's Alp-sized mountains or Saturn's rings of ice.
But as director/producer Jeffrey Jacobs reveals in A Sidewalk Astronomer, Dobson is a
natural-born teacher, whose folksy wit and scientific rigor get listeners charged up about mind-
benders like, What lies beyond the edge of the universe? Dobson's circuitous path in life
is slowly revealed through bits of conversation and quips in the lecture hall. The Peking-born
scientist got a degree in chemistry at Berkeley, but then changed course. The 'belligerent
atheist' became a Ramakrishna monk for 23 years. Given the assignment of reconciling the teachings
of religion and science, Dobson thought he'd have a closer look at the cosmos and began developing
telescopes. That led back to science and to his co-founding Sidewalk Astronomers. While offering
full immersion in the mental universe of Dobson, A Sidewalk Astronomer also reveals the
physical cosmos in all its glory. Solar flares twist like snakes, Jupiter spins like a top;
galaxies are cocooned in clouds of stardust. It's Dobson hope that cosmos-gazing will coax people
to "see beyond our genetic programming." A Sidewalk Astronomer provides the perfect launch
Directed by Jeffrey Jacobs, U.S.A., 2004, DVD, 81 mins.