Kickstarting the Joy of Astronomy

Sidewalk astronomy back in 1921 in New York City. Credit: Wikipedia


You’re probably familiar with Sidewalk Astronomy – where amateur astronomers set up telescopes on street corners or other public places to share free views through a telescope with those who might not otherwise have the chance. These are great opportunities for public education about astronomy and the Universe in which we live. We just got a note from a long-time sidewalk astronomer, Jay Horowitz, who has a plan to set up telescopes on A LOT of street corners. He wants to share telescope views of the skies with people all over the US. But he needs a little help to make his plan come to fruition.

“ I want to give thousands of people the opportunity to see firsthand the universe in which we live, turning young minds on to the power of science and sparking curiosity and awe in adults,” Jay wrote us in an email. And so, he has set up a Kickstarter page – and you might be familiar with this new “crowd sourcing” way to fund creative projects.

Kickstarter projects are efforts by people to do something they love, something fun, or at least something of worthwhile and of note. But they might not have the funds to do it. Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing funding method where projects must be fully-funded or no money changes hands.

Check out Jay’s Astronomy On The Road Kickstarter project, where his goal is to take science around the country in 2011 and 2012. He’s looking to raise money for a Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope, a solar telescope, and fuel for transporting the telescopes between locations. He and his group will provide free views of the skies in schools, libraries, and on city streets all over the United States.

“The telescopes will always be used for public education and will never be for private use, even down the road,” Jay said.

There are also some notable prizes for those who donate, including lunch with some of the big names in astronomy.

Jay’s Sidewalk Astronomy resume is impressive: he founded a successful sidewalk astronomy group in New York City and also volunteered as a telescope operator and educator at an observatory, and taught astronomy in the Dominican Republic.

Consider donating to this great project. You can also follow the project on Twitter.