Jim Loudon characterized himself as "an itinerant astronomy
popularizer" but this was rather self-effacing. He had the remarkable
ability to take complex topics in astronomy, astrophysics and space
science and make them understandable to the general public. For hours
he could hold the attention of an audience as he would take them step
by step through each experiment on some spacecraft and the results from
that craft. He would give presentations on the "dozens of worlds" in our solar
system, pointing out how many of the moons are worlds in their own
right. Once a year he would cohost a celebration of space science held
in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where films from all the Apollo moon landings
would be shown and he would narrate.
His lectures were open forums where the audience was encouraged to
question as the talk proceeded. His maxim was, "The only dumb
question is one not asked!" and would often say, "Please don't
say your question is dumb, because then I look so bad if I can't
answer it!" That was never a problem as his knowledge was quite
He gave his lectures all over the midwest U.S. throughout
the 1970s and 1980s until his untimely death in 1988 at the age of 44.
He was a fond friend and is sorely missed.
On the two year anniversary of his passing the home observatory
of Richard & Dolores Hill was dedicated in his honor with the
permission of the University of Michigan. Then in 1993 the location
of the Jim Loudon Observatory was moved from central Tucson to the
Rincon Mountain foothills where it is still located.
A written sample of Jim Loudon's entertaing yet informative style can be found
Confessions of a Space Popularizer