By Midge Pierce
If December holds a certain stargazing fascination for you (or you just want to scan the skies for Santa), consider trekking up Mt. Tabor on a rare, clear winter’s night to find Mark “Starman” Seibold. For decades, he’s been setting up his telescopes on the caldera as well as in the Pearl, in the Gorge and across 10,000 miles in the US, into Canada.
The autumn season’s star-studded nights made Seibold a Mt. Tabor regular, hauling up his red, research-grade telescope Big Bertha and inviting the public to see the craters of the moon or the rings of Saturn through his smaller, adjustable scope. When viewers line up, Seibold calls it a star party.
His sidewalk astronomy was inspired by the late “pitchman to the stars” John Dobson, who called astronomy the people’s science.
Seibold got his first telescope at age thirteen and says astronomy unlocks mysteries and opens understanding.
The self-proclaimed artist-astronomer-solar prophet and CEO of Mark’s Cosmic Light has worked in tech, been an adjunct professor, radio lecturer and Burning Man devotee. He was once labeled Commander of the Universe by a stargazer amazed at the celestial detail seen through Big Bertha’s viewfinder.
While every night can offer new reveals, 2017’s Solar Eclipse remains a high point that Seibold shared, with hundreds in a Central Oregon park. He’s also witnessed the aurora borealis from Vista House. “You don’t have to go to Alaska to see it,” he says.
Last month’s anticipated passage of Mercury across the Sun was a bust locally under bloated clouds but Seibold scrambled out to Forest Grove’s clearer skies to catch the last moments of the solar crossing of a planet 1/400th the size of the sun.
Come out some clear winter’s night when Seibold shares his “Dobsonian” scope, climb your neighborhood mountain to look through Big Bertha’s eyepiece. If you don’t see Santa, a certain Christmas star or even a UFO (Seibold has explanations) make a donation to thank Starman for sharing his pursuit of the cosmos – for heaven’s sake.
See Seibold’s Facebook page for his latest news, discoveries and planned events.