Sidewalk Astronomy: Taking it to the streets.
Ralph Aguirre (left) of the Sacramento Valley Astronomical Society awaits the public with his telescope. (Photo Credit: Andrew Gallagher) The Brazos Region Astronomy Service Society holds a spontaneous sidewalk session. (Photo credit: Tristan Closs)

Sidewalk astronomy is not a new concept; it’s been around for decades. One or more amateur astronomers take their telescopes out to a busy street corner or a local coffee shop and set up their telescopes to share the view of the night sky.

Most people think that you can only see celestial objects through a telescope if you are in a dark location but that is far from reality. Some of the best objects to see as a first time observer are solar system inhabitants like the planets - particularly Saturn, Jupiter, Mars and Venus – and the fascinating Moon. These objects are so bright that the light pollution from neighborhoods and large cities do not greatly affect your ability to see them.

From the sidewalks outside of Tower Theater in Sacramento, CA to a street corner in Chicago, IL to the Tennessee Performing Arts Center in Nashville, astronomy is closer to you than you might think. More and more astronomy clubs have found that sidewalk astronomy events are a great way to reach the public and share the wonders of the night sky in a convenient location.

Ralph Aguirre of the Sacramento Valley Astronomical Society comments on the public’s reaction to a recent sidewalk astronomy appearance: “Many didn't care what they were looking at, they just wanted too look through the telescopes and see anything we could show them. It was fun for everyone involved. Fun for those of us who brought out our scopes, and fun for everyone who came to experience the night skies with us.”

"Guests were surprised you could do this from a well lit lot. First time viewers ranged from toddlers held by Moms or Dads to a handful of silver haired seniors. Spontaneous [sidewalk] sessions avoid the frustration of bad weather cancellations.”, Observes Dennis Utley from the Brazos Region Astronomy Service Society in Texas on a recent spontaneous sidewalk event.

Would you like to see spectacular Saturn through a telescope? Contact one of the Night Sky Network member astronomy clubs. Just click on the Club Directory.