Sudbury Astronomy Club member Steve Dodson
...Steve Dodson, a local astronomy buff and business owner, had an asteroid named after him last spring.
What do the two things have in common you may ask?Well, as of May 2003, asteroid 13822 was officially named Stevedodson, in honour of the former high school teacher and his
dedication to the world of astronomy. The International Astronomical Union
(IAU), the recognized authority for naming celestial bodies, bestowed the honour on Steve Dodson
because of his
work in helping to measure the size and shape of another asteroid, named Vesta after the Roman goddess of fire. The IAU
uses strict guidelines for naming celestial bodies.While many were named after Greek and Roman gods and goddesses, some are named after the people who discovered them, and others, as in the case of Dodson
, receive the honor based on their valuable contribution to the field of astronomy. Dodson
, who also goes by the moniker of Stargazer Steve, found out when he
received a call from the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. He's
understandably delighted the asteroid was named after him, especially since astronomy has been his
passion for almost as long as he
"My teacher in Grade 2 gave me a book about the stars and I've been fascinated ever since." He
first response being how "beautiful" and "exciting" it was to see objects in the universe with his
own eyes. His
second response was "everybody's got to see this."
been building telescopes privately for many years, he
turned it into a full time business - Stargazer Steve Telescopes - about 10 years ago.
"I'm now building telescopes for the average family who want to look at the moon and stars from their backyard," he
has the distinction of being one of around 300 people in Canada and 30 in Ontario to have an asteroid named after them.
"It's only a matter of time before they get recognized," he
says about other Canadians who make valuable contributions to the field of astronomy.
Dodson's enthusiasm for astronomy has been carried over into his
career throughout his
life.As a teacher of physics, science, chemistry and math, he says he took every opportunity to integrate astronomy into his classroom.
"My main interest in life is to encourage people to look up and get excited about the universe over their heads." In 1981, he joined the Sudbury Science Centre study group to help prepare the original programs, including content and activities, for a new tourist attraction that was later called Science North. He
became the full-time developer of astronomy and physics activities at the science centre after it opened with one his
biggest projects being the development of the Solar Observatory.
In 1985, he
used a 16-foot long mobile telescope he
built, the largest of its kind in Canada at Science North to show visitors Halley's Comet.
Coincidentally, this also turned out to be the first public viewing in Canada of the famous comet.
After fielding many questions from science centre visitors about what kind of telescopes they should purchase, and being dissatisfied with the quality of devices available in mainstream stores, he
decided to turn his
pastime into his
"It's been very exciting and rewarding but not in the financial sense," he
says with a wry grin.
Like many people, he
enjoyed the tranquility and peace of last summer's massive blackout since it was a perfect night for star watching without the illuminating effect of city lights.
In fact, even without a power failure, he
thinks the abundance of clear, dark skies in Northern Ontario could provide an economic boost for tourism.