Sidewalk Astronomy Session

Sidewalk Astronomy

Sidewalk Astronomy is a movement that dates back at least to the 19th Century. Sidewalk Astronomers are volunteers who set up their telescopes in public places and invite random passersby to have a look.

I started doing sidewalk astronomy sessions in 2011. So far I've only done this in my home town of Te Awamutu but I'm planning to take it to other towns as well.

I do two types of sessions:

  1. Evening sessions, concentrating on the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn. These usually begin around sunset but if the Moon is visible in the late afternoon I may set up earlier.
  2. Daytime sessions, using a special solar telescope to view the Sun.

What happens at a sidewalk astronomy session?

Most sessions are held in a public location where people are already gathered, but I also try to set up where drivers can safely pull over when they see the sign. You'll often find me outside a service station.

The big disadvantage in these locations is the light pollution. It really kills the view. Unfortunately sidewalk astronomy is quite limited and you'll usually only see the Moon and a planet or two. The Moon looks great though—it's relatively unaffected by light pollution. Jupiter and Saturn look good enough to impress most people, especially the Rings of Saturn. Other objects such as nebulas don't really work for sidewalk astronomy.

Despite the limited number of things to look at, these sessions are worth doing and they're a lot of fun. Much of the enjoyment comes from chatting about the object we're looking at, or about space and astronomy in general.

Is it free?

Yes, but I do gratefully accept donations.

When do these sessions happen?

Follow me on twitter if you want to be notified when I'm doing a session.


I'm happy to bring my telescope along to public events that are held in the evening (but only in the Waikato region). Contact me if you'd like me to come to a particular event.

I also do other types of presentation such as speaking to school classes, community groups, etc.