Are you a Friend of Jeff Newsom? If you are, you are lucky indeed. And you are probably aware that he has been diagnosed with ALS, aka Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Jeff is a musician, a beloved brother, partner and friend. He’s our neighbor. He’s a musician. He’s also a master Dobsonian telescope builder.
A benefit to raise money and mojo for Jeff happens Saturday, April 17, 2010 at The Wildwood Room-Bill Boney’s, in Victor, Idaho. Time: 7:00-11:00 pm. Ben Winship will lead a long, illustrious line-up of musical guests. Plan to donate and have a ball — there will be plenty of great food, drink AND a private Auction.
Facebook’s “Jeff Newsom Lives!” page says that “spontaneous participation events include:”
Best Song Dedicated To Jeff Newsom Contest (the more ridiculous the better)
Top Ten Conspiracy Theories by Jeff That Turned Out To Be True Contest
Top Ten Conspiracy Theories Jeff Will Offer In 2010
IF YOU CAN’T MAKE THE EVENT: Donations can be made online at: http://jeffreynewsombenefit.chipin.com/jeffrey-newsom-lives
I met the Newsom clan years back, at an opening for Jeff’s brother David’s photography exhibit and book release, both entitled “Skip.” Skip is another Newsom brother, seemingly physically impaired, but incredibly magic. David photographed Skip against Idaho’s snaggly, raw landscapes and the results were beautiful. That show remains one of my all time favorites in my long memory of Jackson Hole art happenings. Jeff was there and so was sister Ginny Newsom. It was a great party, held at in the barn-like structure on West Broadway that housed the former J.H. Muse Gallery.
Jeff told me about his telescopes. He drew me some sketches on cocktail napkins, and I started taking notes. It was the beginning of a friendship with Jeff and the remarkable Newsom clan. (Ginny Newsom is working her tail off on this benefit. What a woman!) A few weeks later I found myself spending an adventurous afternoon with Jeff and his telescopes, and I wrote a newspaper story about the day.
What follows is an edited version of that original that ran in Planet Jackson Hole’s April 12, 2006 edition. I want you to know him. Here’s to you, Jeff! I love the stars in your eyes. Party on! ~ Tammy
“Idahoan Enjoins Masses to ‘Come See the Moon!'”
“So there we were. We had one of these telescopes with a four-inch mirror in it, and Mars was going to make its closest pass in many years, and that’s what got it all started. You start looking through one of those things, and are blown away by what you can see! I thought, imagine what you could see with a bigger scope!”
So said Jeff Newsom of Driggs, Idaho, describing how he got interested in making telescopes. I thought that would be the subject of this story – I mean, is anyone else around here making telescopes? – no. Five minutes into my research and the full “scope” of what Newsom is doing and exploring began to crystallize and this little article became more of a humble introduction to a host of concepts and players, including, but not limited to:
Hydrogen, mirror-shaping classes, time, space, black holes, a re-examination of Big Bang theory, (which, according to www.bigbangneverhappened.org, could not have occurred), red shifts, wavelengths demonstrating a celestial object’s distance from earth; and John Dobson, renowned physicist, chemist, astronomer, “Star Monk,” and visionary who has turned empirical evidence into philosophy. Oh, and assists humans in seeing beyond their genetic programming.
“These are clouds, these are cats, these are bees, but when you see the moon through a scope you shut up,” Dobson has said. Dobson founded Sidewalk Astronomers, a tribe of knowledgeable star gazers with a public service mission to introduce all citizens to space. Dobson began the movement by setting up his homemade telescopes on San Francisco street corners and inviting passers-by to “come see the moon.”
Jeff Newsom was attracted to Dobson’s complete altruism. Newsom learned how to build Dobsonian telescopes, made from precise, lightweight mirrors (Newsom carved his own), long focal ratios and extra wide apertures. Newsom is also drawn to Dobson’s mix of Eastern philosophy and Western physics. Because of Dobson, says Newsom, millions of people have “gone celestial.”
Newsom founded his own chapter of Sidewalk Astronomers, joining the mission to educate as many as he can on the secrets of the stars, planets, space, time, cosmic dust and, well, the origins of everything. Spend a few hours with Newsom looking through his telescopes, and you may well become a convert, too. Jeff Newsom has made it possible for all of us in Jackson, Driggs and the region to look into deep space if we want to. Newsom engineered a visit by Dobson to Jackson Hole just a few years ago.
Jeff Newsom keeps giving and giving. Give back. We have his back, right? I cannot attend this weekend’s festivities because I’m in New England; however I’m thrilled to make a contribution that I hope will help raise funds, and my wish is that you will too. As a friend of mine likes to end letters, “touching palms.”