What do you plan to do when you’re 97 years old? If you’re like John Dobson, you’ll travel the country helping people connect with the cosmos.
As reported in the current issue of Mental Floss magazine, John Dobson has been helping amateur astronomers create top notch telescopes since the late 1960’s. The barrier for most amateur astronomers is the size of the lens—the bigger the lens the more powerful the telescope, but also the more costly it is.
Dobson created a way to make telescopes out of cheap porthole glass, a cardboard tube, and some sand. While the typical amateur telescope has a two-inch lens, Dobson teaches people how to shape the inexpensive glass into a twelve-inch lens that can see the moon with incredible detail, not to mention stars and other heavenly bodies many light years away.
For the last forty years, the former Hindu monk has shown up in various towns across the country to teach a three-day lens-grinding class. His passion shows as he steps people through how to make their own professional-quality lens.
Not only has he created telescopes, but Dobson has also shaped communities. There are amateur astronomy communities all over the world, and at one of their annual gatherings in Vermont, which attracts more than 3,000 people, they come together in what is known as the Valley of the Dobs. That is quite a tribute to a modest man who has shared so much with so many.
What kind of impact do you want to make on others? Is there something you would like to share whether it’s before or after you’re retired? As John Dobson has demonstrated, not only can you make a big impact with something small, but you can also make your mark well into your nineties.