What is sidewalk astronomy?

What is sidewalk astronomy

A street corner astronomer (another name for sidewalk astronomy) in New York City, 1921.

What is sidewalk astronomy? Glad you asked. I’ve been wondering myself. I was under the incorrect impression that too much light pollution nixed the possibility of seeing much of anything in the night sky. Sidewalk conjures up cityscapes and lots of lights in my imagination!

Wikipedia says: Sidewalk or Street Corner Astronomy refers to the activity of setting up a telescope in an urban setting on a for profit or non-profit basis as an entertainment or for public education.

My main focus today however is on one particular citizen astronomer who has taken to the streets for his community and because of his great passion. His name is Jupiter Joe and he lives in the Bronx, New York.

Jeanmarie Evelly of dnainfo.com has written a great piece about  the wonderful contribution that Jupiter Joe is making to his community.

What is sidewalk astronomy?

A Citibank employee by day, Joseph Martinez, 40, has turned his passion for astronomy into a community outreach project. Last year, he bought himself a quality telescope and started Jupiter Joe’s Sidewalk Astronomy, an effort to instill his love for science and the stars to his Bronx neighbors.
“In our neighborhood, and in general, there’s no outlet for kids to learn like that anymore,” he said. “Schools are geared toward just taking a test.”
Martinez brings his telescope to community events, his local park, or simply sets it up out on the sidewalk near his home on Pelham Parkway, and invites the public to take a peek at the sky. He points out visible planets and stars, and gives lessons on sun spots or magnetic poles, and shows them how to tell the difference between a planet and a star (the trick? only stars twinkle).

Do read the rest of the article and check out the photos. Great stuff!

I love when a question like, what is sidewalk astronomy, comes into to my head that people like Jeanmarie Evelly answers it with a dash of inspiration. Jupiter Joe is awesome. I’m really impressed.

Check out Jupiter Joe’s site. It’s still a work in progress, but you can definitely see the passion. The parents and kids of his neighborhood are very lucky.

So do you have a noble citizen astronomer in your neighborhood?


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