Jane Houston Jones
Jane Houston Jones recently completed 5 years as president of the Astronomical Association of Northern California before accepting a job as Senior Outreach Specialist for the Cassini Program at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and relocating to Pasadena, CA. But she is best known as a go-getting perpetual motion source of astronomical energy. Jane can usually be found at a star party helping someone collimate their telescope or surrounded by dry ice, buckets, and kids forming comets in a classroom. Or flying around the world counting meteors as part of the 1998 – 2002 NASA Leonid Multi-instrument aircraft campaign. Or perhaps pouring a pitch lap in a telescope class.
Jane has completed 6 of the Astronomical League observing award programs – the Sunspotter, Messier, Messier Binocular, Southern Sky binocular, Caldwell and Herschel 400 programs and is currently working on the Galaxy Cluster program. When not observing, giving talks, or making comets, Jane publishes articles in amateur astronomy club newsletters and in Sky and Telescope and Amateur Astronomy magazines. Her astronomical sketches have been published in Astronomy Magazine. Look for her article in the new Night Sky magazine from Sky and Telescope in mid-2004.
Jane wishes to thank the Sidewalk Astronomers and John Dobson for introducing her to the world of amateur astronomy. Amateur astronomy is a universal community of stars, young and old, all shining brilliantly, sharing their energy and history with all who care to look up.
Here are Jane’s Comments after receiving the award:
2004 Riverside Telescope Makers Conference and Astronomy Expo.
Imagine my thrill as I walked to the stage and received the 2004 WAA G. Bruce Blair medal! I was surrounded by many past winners as I received this years award.
When I went through the award winners list from the past 50 years, I discovered that I knew over half of the awardees personally and admired or was inspired by all of them. Dr Haas inspired me to not just look at the planets but to study and sketch their features when observing through my telescope. Clifford Holmes inspired me by his infectious joy of amateur astronomy. Paul Zurakowsi inspires me every day to help others build telescopes the best they can. Betty Neall and Denni Medlock, the only other two women Blair medal winners set a high bar for me and remind me that it is important for women amateur astronomers to encourage the stars of tomorrow. I could go on and on…
Current WAA president Jack Borde, received the G. Bruce Blair medal in 1987, the year I discovered amateur astronomy. 1987 was the year I became an amateur astronomer, first by learning about different types of telescopes then by joining an astronomy club. The following year, I took a deep breath and signed up for John Dobson’s telescope making class in San Francisco. A few months later, I was spending all my free time looking through f/7.3 10-inch Stardust, which I still use today. Like countless thousands who preceded me, I got my start as an amateur astronomer at the hands of John Dobson, so I dedicate this award to John for the years of wonder that he has brought into my life. Every day he inspires me to ask a question, answer a question, or take my telescope out on a local sidewalk and share the wonder of the universe with others. Thanks, John!
Jane Houston Jones