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John Dobson

John Dobson was born in Peking, China, on September 14, 1915. His maternal grandfather was the founder of Peking University. His mother was a musician; his father taught Zoology at the University.

In 1927, John's parents moved the family to San Francisco due to political and social unrest in China. John had three brothers: Ernest, Lowry, and Harrison. John's dad accepted a teaching position at Lowell High School and taught there from 1927 until he retired in the 50's.

When John was still a youngster, he started asking questions about the nature of the world in which we live. This natural curiosity and yearning for understanding has stayed with him all his life.

After completing a degree in Chemistry at the University of California at Berkeley in 1943, he took a defense-related job, which he held until he joined the Vedanta Monastery in San Francisco in 1944, thus becoming a monk of the Ramakrishna Order.

John spent 23 years in the Monastery. He built his first telescope, (a small refractor made with salvaged optical parts), because he wanted to see for himself what the universe looked like. One of his fellow monks told him that it was possible to grind a telescope mirror, so, in 1956 John made his first mirror out of a marine-salvage 12 " porthole glass. When he looked at the third-quarter moon with his finished telescope, he was surprised and deeply moved by what he saw. His first thought was, "Everybody's got to see this." Thus began John's long commitment to public-service astronomy.

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