John has been interpreting the sky to family, friends, and the public since he got his first telescope in 1956. He was a passionate amateur astronomer from an early age ("I've wanted to be an astronomer since I can remember -- certainly since first grade"). He had a backyard observatory in suburban Detroit, and earned a degree in astronomy from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in 1970. Upon graduation he turned from research to public astronomy and, during his 35-year professional career he worked in two public planetariums: the historic Hansen Planetarium in Salt Lake City and the world-famous Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles. John was in charge of Griffith's educational activities for 27 years, and he wrote and produced over 50 planetarium shows (and presented them live), developed museum exhibits, was responsible for the operation of the telescopes, and provided astronomy information to the public and the news media. He has been interviewed over 100 times on local and national television and appeared in more than a dozen documentaries. John became an authority on the Star of Bethlehem (his first book is The Christmas Star, published in 1987).
In the 1990s John wrote four additional books on the sky: The Ultimate Guide to the Sky for children in 1997, Stargazing for Beginners also in 1997, Stargazing with Binoculars and Telescopes in 1998, and Starry Night Companion in 2000. This last book has been included with every copy of Starry Night software sold since 2000. His two stargazing books are available through Amazon.com.
John became a familiar face to Los Angeles residents and to people around the country with his frequent media appearances. John was called on regularly to explain eclipses, discoveries in astronomy, and to be an authority in documentaries, and he has appeared on CNN Headline News, Tom Snyder Show, Good Morning America, AM Los Angeles, Dan Rather Evening News, Today Show, Jim Lehrer News Hour, as well as the local evening news countless times.
John has also lead expeditions to South America and the Caribbean to watch eclipses and to see Halley's Comet, taught astronomy at the college level and to teachers, and conducted weekend astronomy workshops for families on Palomar Mountain and elsewhere. He edited magazines and a professional journal, wrote a bi-weekly column on the sky that appeared in the Los Angeles Times for six years, and recorded a weekly Sky Report that was very popular for 26 years. He coordinated public star parties sponsored by Hansen Planetarium and Griffith Observatory for 35 years.
Since retiring from Los Angeles in 2006, John and his wife Barbara has been traveling the country in their motorhome. They carry a superb 8.25-inch telescope, and they seek out dark-sky sites to continue John's life-long hobby of stargazing. He still enjoys explaining the sky to others and likes to conduct public star parties -- so he formed a company Stargazing Adventures (www.StargazingAdventures.org) to formalize these pursuits.
John is in Borrego Springs, California (south of Palm Springs), December through March, in St. George, Utah, in April and May and again in October and November, and travels during the summer.