Talk:Sidewalk astronomy

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Tags[edit]

This page has been tagged, without any explanation
Please explain why it is:

  • Non-notable: the term has produced 70,000 google hits, so someone has heard of it
  • Neologism: I cannot see any word here that isn’t in a dictionary
  • Requiring references: There are 3 external links on this page; and both of these, “35 Who Made a Difference” and Amateur Astronomy's Revolutionary on the John Dobson page refer to “Sidewalk astronomy”. At least one of them should qualify as a reliable 3rd party source. Swanny18 (talk) 18:42, 12 June 2009 (UTC)

There has been no reply to this, here or there so I've removed the tags. Swanny18 (talk) 14:00, 17 June 2009 (UTC)

Reinstated tags. Page was not tagged without any explanation, it is in the summary. Google searching without the term "San Francisco" produces only 122 hits[1], so this may be non-notable outside association with the "San Francisco Sidewalk Astronomers". "Neologisms are words and terms" (WP:NEO), we have a non-dictionary term here. The two sources cited are not references describing "Sidewalk astronomy", the term only appears in the reference. WP:V requires (several) published reliable source describing the topic, not just a mention that it might exist. The opening (un-referenced) claim that "Sidewalk astronomy" was "founded by John Dobson" is un-supportable since there are many references (and cartoons for that matter) that refer to astronomers/telescopes on "sidewalks" that predate and/or have nothing to do with John Dobson or the San Francisco Sidewalk Astronomers[2][3][4][5]. The entire text of the article has no source reference that is being paraphrased so it is pretty WP:OR. The article needs a major re-write (if sound references can be found). Fountains of Bryn Mawr (talk) 20:09, 17 June 2009 (UTC)
I'd agree that the article needs more sources and I will keep a lookout for them to try to help out. The entire subject of amateur astronomy seems to suffer from obscurity in the eye of the general public so it might be better to cite journal articles as well as online references. Concerning the neologism question I find it difficult to understand how the term is any more of a neologism than similar terms used by other groups, but rather it is used by people who are normally less aggressively opinionated than some other people on the internet. (I can think of a long list of words which would appear to be just as much neologisms but tagging them as such would risk endless edit wars.)Trilobitealive (talk) 16:42, 21 June 2009 (UTC)
FoBM:Thanks for the search; I’d thought this was mostly a US/UK thing, but this had Astronomical Societies all over the world staging events. But I’d dispute your rationale; most pages on Sidewalk Astronomy make a passing reference to John Dobson, or the San Fransisco Group. Excluding San Fransisco will discount just about everyone. You got 111 hits with this; it doesn’t mention the Society I belong to, and a search for Liverpool +”sidewalk astronomy” by itself gives over 200 hits. So, "non-notable" - I think it’s a lot bigger than you are suggesting.
“Non-dictionary term”- I notice you’ve edited on Neutrino telescope, Monocentric eyepiece and Skygazing: None of them are in the dictionary either; are they neologisms? Does that make them suspect terms?
Your comment about Dobson not being the founder of SA is confusing; Having said the term is “non-notable outside association with SFSA” are you saying here the the idea pre-dates them? There’s no doubt many people have popularised astronomy before Dobson, and sought to involve the public (Sky at Night is an obvious example), but I think Dobson deserves some credit for introducing the term and the idea to a wide audience. If you think another form of words is better, what would you like?
"Original Research"- Well anything copied verbatim can be criticized for infringing copyright, and anything in one's own words can be branded original research, so that's a real Catch-22; I’m satisfied the main points of the articles description of SA are in the "Smithsonian" and the "Amateur Astronomy" articles; which comments do you feel specifically aren’t? Swanny18 (talk) 20:17, 21 June 2009 (UTC)
I think we are over complicating a pretty simple Wikipedia concept here. It is not a matter of what any of us "like" (back to that pesky WP:OR). The article needs to meet the three core content policies. It falls flat on WP:V, no reliable sources at all. WP:NPOV cannot be assessed because there are no sources. And WP:OR is all we have because....there are no sources. We are running into WP:NEO because the article states flat out that this is a new concept invented by one person/group and limited to that person/group. That is probably wrong and therefor we don't have a neologism....errrr.... we need sources to find that out. Fountains of Bryn Mawr (talk) 23:50, 21 June 2009 (UTC)
“Over complicating”... hmm. As far as I can see, the article is adequate for an encyclopaedia; a place where someone with no knowledge of the subject can come for some basic explanation, and a link to more info elsewhere. But if you think it needs more, please feel free to add it.
On your specific points though:
  • “reliable sources” – the Smithsonian isn’t reliable?
  • “NPOV” – what point of view is there to be non-neutral about?
  • “Neologism” – I can’t see that a term which is well known to just about all astronomers, and whose meaning is transparent to anyone who speaks English, qualifies as a neologism.
  • And on the subject of a concept “limited to one person and one group", I’ve added links to ISAN and to 3 other groups (there are plenty more!)
Swanny18 (talk) 22:02, 23 June 2009 (UTC)
A “reliable sources” is a trustworthy or authoritative fact-checked source in relation to the subject at hand (WP:RS). The Smithsonian article is not about the subject at all--- it just mentions it.... and it is not fact checked. "How reliable a source is depends on context".
“NPOV” - the entire article seems to be written from one point of view... Dobson and the SFSA invented "Sidewalk Astronomy" in the 1960s and that the activity only takes the one form mentioned. Articles such as this[6] and this[7] kinda blow that out of the water.
“Neologism” - again, the articles POV is making it a Neologism... it may not be the case.
As far as links, they don't meet WP:EL because they don't describe the subject at hand and are probably counter to WP:NOTDIRECTORY.
Fountains of Bryn Mawr (talk) 03:54, 24 June 2009 (UTC)

I'm sure there must be a neutral way of writing this article and one which can adequately document subject notability. I've started by changing references to the footnote style and adding (scantily documented I'll admit) information about an earlier sidewalk astronomer. Look at my edits and see if I'm nudging it in the right direction and lets try to not be fussy. Thanks. Trilobitealive (talk) 04:52, 24 June 2009 (UTC)

Neologism? I think the term has made it into the common vernacular if they are using it on the JPL website. See "Sidewalk Astronomy: Taking it to the streets." (html). Article Archives. Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology. Retrieved 2009-06-24.  Trilobitealive (talk) 05:27, 24 June 2009 (UTC)

POV issues[edit]

If there is a suggestion here that "Dobson and the SFSA invented "Sidewalk Astronomy" in the 1960s" that's POV, it's fixable; what about a History section? As for "the activity only takes the one form mentioned"; what other forms are you thinking of? A fuller description of what SA is can only help. Swanny18 (talk) 07:29, 25 June 2009 (UTC)
I think neutrality must recognize the fact that he popularized it but there were others before and since who have been instrumental in developing the hobby. His most important contribution was developing a design of medium sized scope which was more easily transportable.Trilobitealive (talk) 21:13, 25 June 2009 (UTC)
I don't have any good online references to support more than mentioning the New Orleans astronomer who had a distinctly different style. Too bad I haven't yet been able to find online Times-Picayune archives from the 1930s. I'm looking at online references supporting the history of Chicago efforts which are more recent. A history will be feasible only when we have the references lined up.
The article will grow as we work on it and add to it. I was stuck at home this week watching over some construction work but normally prefer a slower pace so the other editors can keep an NPOV as we go. I'm slowing down here for a while to give you guys time to make your own changes and reversions.Trilobitealive (talk) 21:33, 25 June 2009 (UTC)
Sorry...throwing a real revision in, was editing off line in a word editor. I see allot of WP:PEACOCK and other references issues have been fixed. There is still some unreferenced claims such as "The activity was formalized in 1968"? Last sentence in intro does not seem to be supported by the ref and it is something I have nulled out for more neutral language. Other changes are for a more referenced POV. Cleaned up external links to fit WP:NOTDIRECTORY. List of refs below. Fountains of Bryn Mawr (talk) 02:09, 26 June 2009 (UTC)

The Story of the Heavens - By Robert Stawell Ball – Herschel, after 1774

Friends' intelligencer Page 298 1862

The Historical Society of Southern California quarterly by the Historical Society of Southern California, Pioneers of Los Angeles County v. 38 – 1956 “The "sidewalk astronomer" was conspicuous in Los Angeles. One such gentleman in the late 1870’s and early ‘80’s was Mr Grosser by name, who, for a small fee would allow the passerby to gaze not only through his sizeable telescope but also through the illumined microscope he carried”

Theatrical management in the West and South for thirty years By Solomon Smith, Sinclair Hamilton Collection of American Illustrated Books before 1868 – mention for pay

Journal of the Franklin Institute – 1880 – page 418 - Sidewalk Astronomers in Paris

Latimer J. Wilson, Adventures in Street Corner Astronomy, Popular Science Mar 1921

Popular Mechanics Jun 1926

pay telescope Popular Science Jul 1928

Tracks - Item notes: v. 36 – 1951 mention of the term “sidewalk astronomer”

Sky & telescope - 1962 By Charles Anthony Federer, Harvard College Observatory, mention of the term “sidewalk astronomer”

Great inventions By Jerome Sydney Meyer 1962 - 287 pages - mention of the term “sidewalk astronomer”

Frederick News Post - What's it like ... to be a street corner astronomer? Originally published October 16, 2008 - Herman Heyn, Bal street corner astronomer.

Also removed tags, although a case could be made that the article suffers from WP:SYNTHESIS and juxtaposing facts since it cites instances of Sidewalk astronomy but has no reliable overall sources about the topic - no one has written that article or book as far as I can see... so we are "it". Fountains of Bryn Mawr (talk) 02:27, 26 June 2009 (UTC)

Looks pretty good to me. Smile.png Some time if I can ever figure out how to do so without calling down the fires of Wiki-Hell upon myself I'll show you a few articles which are REALLY WP:SYN, all guarded by genuine Demons. In my viewpoint the editors of astronomy articles show good sense in their editing. Though I'll want to go back in a few days or weeks and work on grammatical issues. Regards to all.Trilobitealive (talk) 01:01, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
BTW, it no longer meets criteria to be a stub.Trilobitealive (talk) 01:03, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
I notice that, after lecturing me about POV, you've managed to edit this to exclude almost any mention of Dobson, which pretty much takes the biscuit. Ah, well... Swanny18 (talk) 23:33, 5 July 2009 (UTC)
PS also, as you've deleted links to some societies that have SA groups I've found a single page with a load of them on, which is probably better. Swanny18 (talk) 23:35, 5 July 2009 (UTC)
Since most of what was said about Dobson was contradicted by source or flat out wrong it did end up on the "cutting room floor" re:WP:V. The directory of society links was lost because of WP:NOTDIRECTORY and WP:EL.. a few more of those pesky Wikipedia guidelines. Fountains of Bryn Mawr (talk) 03:19, 6 July 2009 (UTC)