The desert’s night sky has been a focus for Indigenous Folklore, Greek Mythology, and just good nighttime entertainment for people throughout human history. It only takes one visit to Ocotillo and the Imperial Valley Desert Museum during one of its Stargazing nights to appreciate how impressive the desert nighttime sky can be. Children and adults all stare with wonder into the universe; they may be listening to cultural stories of old, imagining pictures made by stars, or listening to astronomy science, but it is always a relaxing and enjoyable experience. The desert’s nighttime sky is the window through which anyone can view the universe.
Recently, through the diligent efforts of Executive Director, Dr. David Breeckner, the Imperial Valley Desert Museum has received the donation of a 30 inch Dobsonian telescope. This telescope is huge, standing at nearly 10 ft in height! Amateur astronomers are usually very satisfied with the results of six to ten inch telescopes. A 30 inch mirror telescope is simply incredible and could take astronomy nights at the museum to a new level.
A Dobsonian telescope is an altazimuth-mounted Newtonian telescope popularized by John Dobson in 1965. The design is optimized for observing faint, deep-sky objects such as nebulae and galaxies. Dobson built telescopes through his hobby of instructional “sidewalk astronomy.” He set up his telescopes on sidewalks in San Francisco for any passerby to view for free. He took satisfaction in connecting people caught up in their busy urban lives to wonders of the universe. He is credited with being the originator and promoter of the design of large Dobsonian telescopes that revolutionized telescopes available to the amateur astronomer.
What does IVDM have planned with this new telescope? Dr. Breeckner is researching possible grants and additional donations that could assist in building a structure for housing this telescope at the museum, providing it a forever home where Dobson's tradition of “sidewalk astronomy” can be continued.
Any ideas for this next step would be appreciated. For any interested parties, remember that the Imperial Valley Desert Museum is owned and operated by the Imperial Valley Desert Museum Society, Inc. which is a non-profit 501(C)(3) qualified corporation that can provide tax credits and related tax benefits to donors.