A New Jersey Rabbi Sidewalk Astronomer

11 06 2010

Amy and I went to a theater performance a few evenings ago. Following the performance, we left the building and headed for the car, which was parked on the street outside of the event space.

Amy is pretty used to my sidewalk astronomy antics, but I’m the astronomer of the family – which is why I was shocked when it was Amy who noticed a guy with something on a tripod standing on the sidewalk up ahead.

Amy wasn’t sure whether it was a photographer or an astronomer, but I saw that he was looking right at Venus, so I guessed astronomer. We both hopped a fence and walked over, and I quickly had my eyesight schooled as this ~70 year old man picked Venus out of the bright evening sky before I spotted it.

A few minutes of conversation revealed that he was a retired rabbi who was not only into astronomy, but had built his own telescope mount. As we drove off later in the evening, we saw the rabbi astronomer showing a woman our sulfuric-acid-cloud-covered neighbor.


posted by jayhorowitz




One response

11 06 2010
The Wandering Cartographer

That is very cool! Your entry reminds me that I want to read more about astronomy in Judaism. It’s really interesting. I am sure you know, the word “mazal tov” is used by Jews to mean congratulations. The word “mazal” also means constellation. It’s also related to the verb “nozel” referring to “dripping”. So the implication is that your experience dripped from the high Heavens (you as an astronomy buff can pinpoint that faster than me these days :P) through the constellations that are closer to us, till it hits us on Earth and hence an experience that one can be congratulated on. So in conclusion, congrats Yair, that sounds like an awesome experience! I liked reading about it.

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