John Lowry Dobson

I told him that I was a former ranger-naturalist at Crater Lake and he immediately began to tell me of the kind hospitality offered to him by naturalists Hank Tanski and John Salinas. He also said he knew of park interpreter and planetarium director Tom McDonough. He said he had stopped coming to Crater Lake since the closing of the Rim Center (the Community House) in 1988. He said that he believes it to be absolutely necessary to give slide presentations prior to the use of telescopes, so that people looking through the telescopes would have some appreciation of what they were observing. The closing of the Rim Center made it impossible to give such presentations.

Knowing that 2002 would be the year of the park’s centennial celebration, I immediately sent out e-mail to all I knew who remembered John Dobson’s park visits. I suggested to Superintendent Chuck Lundy that a star party at Crater Lake be organized as a part of the park centennial celebration and that Dobson be park of this event. As it turned out, this was not to be. The park had other priorities that summer, and night sky interpretation was not among the specific activities planned for the park’s centennial. Not to give up on a good idea, I proceeded in the following seasons to promote the possibility of bringing John Dobson back to Crater Lake and promoting the value of dark skies above national parks as both a natural and cultural resource.

On July 30-31, 2004, John Dobson returned to Crater Lake as a guest of the Crater Lake Institute to receive the Institute’s annual award for excellence in public service “for inspiring dreams about places beyond Earth through pioneering sidewalk astronomy in our national parks and forests, where curiosity and dark skies meet.” As a part of this event, the Crater Lake Institute sponsored public presentations by Dobson at Pioneer Hall in Ashland (July 29), the county museum in Fort Klamath (July 30) , and at Diamond Lake Resort on the Umpqua National Forest (July 31). No presentations, however, were given within the park proper.

The following interview with John Dobson was conducted on July 31, 2004 in the Peyton Room at Crater Lake Lodge. I as interview functioned as a Volunteer-in-the-Parks.

F. Owen Hoffman

December 2004