JIM LOUDON

(1944-1988)


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 comprehensive.

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 sample of Jim Loudon's entertaing yet informative style can be found in:

Confessions of a Space Popularizer