Visitors to the website may notice a “Donations” button now appearing on the front page. This is in response to several requests by visitors to my telescopes.
As I staunchly believe that sidewalk astronomers should not charge anyone for the opportunity to view things through their telescopes, I have never and will never seek financial compensation for what I do.
I am fully aware that some sidewalk astronomers around the world actively seek donations and cash for the opportunity to see through their telescopes, and in some cases these telescopes can be significant instruments providing awesome views. Nevertheless, the Sidewalk Astronomers organization is against this practice and I adamantly support this position at the telescope.
I consider myself to be very fortunate to be able to afford my telescopes and equipment, and think it is almost an obligation of any amateur astronomer to share what can been seen with others, who may never get the opportunity to view such live sights with the naked eye.
As with any hobby, there are associated costs and most of these I bear without regret or second thought. My current astronomy gear has a total cost of over twelve thousand dollars. Although the sidewalk astronomy activities will sometimes add to equipment maintenance costs such as replacing an eyepiece that gets damaged or badly degraded from frequent cleaning, or a controller cord that breaks due to wear and tear, I consider these normal costs of having an enjoyable time.
In addition, many of the reference materials I give as handouts have a minimal cost. Items such as StarFinder planispheres or the MoonGazer guides are provided to me by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and all I pay is the shipping.
Astronomy Magazine has also been a tremendous supporter by sending me lots of excellent guides and handouts over the years and I am very grateful for their support. Website costs are another cost but it is less than $200 per year.
Where costs become unmanageable, as in the case of the safe solar viewers, I must look for funding, such as by a sponsor. Fortunately, in this instance, the fantastic people with the Prince Edward Island Optometrists Association came through and sponsored the initial supply of these wonderful outreach tools.
While I have always respectfully declined donations at the eyepiece, and will continue to do so, on occasion some determined people have sneaked money into my eyepiece case or under something on the seat of the truck, only to be discovered by me when packing the gear away. I have also been asked by a few folks if there was any way they could sponsor my astronomy outreach through other financial contribution or support.
Again, I have always declined in-person donations for observing through my telescopes and will continue to do so, unless of course there is a sponsorship opportunity identified.
However, if people feel sufficiently compelled to help advance astronomy in our area, I will give them an opportunity to do so via an online donation.
Donations will be applied first to any current initiative such as the Scopes for Schools Project or the Library Telescope Loaner Program. In the absence of any current project requirement funds will be used to support the purchase of safe solar viewers or another handout.
Let me be very clear about a few things however:
– first, as stated earlier, I do not charge, I will never charge and I most certainly do not expect any type of donation or contribution from anyone who wants to see the wonders of the heavens through my telescopes.
– secondly, any money received will be used only for the support of public astronomy in Charlottetown.
At the end of the day, I hope the many sidewalk observers agree that the view they experienced was worth their time, without touching their pocketbook.
Thank you and enjoy the skies.