Roadside astronomers

"Street astronomy", the practice of taking a telescope onto a street corner to offer the public views of the heavens is far from new, and certainly goes back to Victorian times if not beyond. This type of individual activity occurred without any form of organisation until 1968 and the advent of the San Franciso Sidewalk Astronomers group. Headed by John Dobson, the group became the first public service astronomers, and those aims and objectives have since been emulated by similar groups, mostly amateur astronomers, the world over.

It was with this in mind that one particular member of the Isle of Man Astronomical Society, Gary Corlett, had long suggested that the Society should take astronomy to the public in the same fashion. "Sidewalk astronomy" of course, is patently an American term, for on this side of the Atlantic, we have pavements, not sidewalks. The translation though, to "Pavement astronomy", somehow doesn't quite have the same ring to it, and so we have opted to use "Roadside astronomy" as our descriptive term.

When and where will you find us? Well, having only made our first such appearance on 12 March, 2014 on Douglas Promenade opposite the Terminus Tavern, it is too early to assess the frequency. Clear dark clear skies are a pre-requisite of course, as are members of the public! We do plan on impromptu appearances at locations around the Island, not just within the Douglas area, for we don't seek huge crowds, but rather a steady trickle of passers-by. That way, you'll get a decent amount of observing time at the eyepiece if you are lucky enough to encounter us.