Healdsburg brothers bring the cosmos to you
Dan and Bill Gordon spend their time looking into the firmament. It’s in the stars where they find a sense of awe.
Developing a passion for astronomy decades ago, the brothers now have a way to share with locals their love of the celestial. Last year they launched Night Sky Adventure, a mobile astronomy business that brings stargazing to businesses and events across Sonoma County.
The Gordons own a 14-inch Schmidt–Cassegrain telescope, as well as a 14.5-inch classical Cassegrain telescope. They also have several smaller refractors used for wide-field observing and a solar telescope to observe the sun safely.
They take these research- quality telescopes from place to place to offer folks a peek of Jupiter, the rings and moons of Saturn, the polar ice caps on Mars and the fine details of the moon.
The brothers revel in comments from those observing the sky for the first or the umpteenth time.
“I love sharing this with the community,” said Bill Gordon, who waxes poetic when he talks about people’s reactions when they see the wonders of the night sky.
Dan Gordon, 73 and the older of the two brothers, was introduced to astronomy by his father and older brother, Richard Gordon. The family had purchased a long-tube telescope when he was just 8 years old.
Bill Gordon, a 60-year-old professional woodworker and cabinetmaker, received his introduction to astronomy via his two brothers, Dan and Richard Gordon.
Until 2001, Dan Gordon owned and operated an astronomy equipment company that sold all levels of telescopes. As part of his work, he lectured about the workings of the gear.
Dan Gordon spent a decade at the University of Texas Research Observatory working as a public affairs specialist.
“Aka tour guide,” Dan Gordon said, laughing.
Bill Gordon has lived in Healdsburg since the 1970s, while his eldest brother spent a stint in town from 1981 to 1983. Dan Gordon, who now works at Jim Bone Nissan in Santa Rosa, moved back to town in 2017 to help care for his mother, who suffers from dementia.
When the brothers finally ended up in the same town after decades apart, they decided to start a business together, combining their interests in the sky.
Both men credit their parents, Jack and Diana Gordon, with actively supporting the children’s varied interests. They exposed their four children (three boys and a girl) to astronomy, art, photography and other cultural activities.
The family frequently moved — from New York to Chicago to El Paso, Texas, and then to Laguna Beach in Orange County before settling again in Illinois and then back in Southern California. Their father has since died.
Over the past year, Dan and Bill Gordon have set up their telescopes and offered free or low-cost viewings at a variety of events, including Cloverdale’s Friday Night Live fair, Windsor’s Summer Nights on the Green and Healdsburg’s Tuesday in the Plaza Concert Series.
“There’s precious little for young families to do after dinner,” said Dan Gordon. The telescopes are his way of introducing wonder into the lives of those who stop to take a look.
They say stargazing is a stress reliever and can be enjoyed by all ages. People feel connected to the universe after viewing. “They stop thinking about their problems,” Bill Gordon said.
On clear evenings, the brothers can often be found on the southeast corner of the Healdsburg Plaza with their telescopes.
They also set up the telescopes at private parties and business, wine and corporate events. They charge a minimum of $390 for up to 15 attendees. The price includes two hours, two telescopes and two guides. They give price breaks for larger groups.
While they hope to attract more private events and expand to other cities in the future, the men say they’ll continue to do community outreach.
They also may offer Night Sky Adventure trips to view celestial events, such as the 2024 eclipse, as well as offer Dark Sky Adventures trips out to Lake Sonoma — away from ambient light where even more wonders can be seen.
Residents can catch the Gordons and their Night Sky Adventure at Cloverdale’s Friday Night Live event this week at 6:30 p.m.
They will regularly be at Healdsburg’s Tuesday in the Plaza Concert Series.
For more information, visit nightskyadventure.com.