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BSTC star party to feature comet-finder Levy

Astronomer David Levy with Cupid, a Questar telescope that was a wedding gift from his wife, Wendee. Photo Wendee Levy)

Beth Shalom Temple Center in Green Valley will host a star-gazing evening with acclaimed astronomer and author David H. Levy, Ph.D., on Wednesday, Dec. 4. Levy is among the most successful comet discoverers in history, having discovered or co-discovered 23 comets, nine of them using his own backyard telescopes. With Eugene and Carolyn Shoemaker at the Palomar Observatory in California, he discovered Shoemaker-Levy 9, a comet that collided with Jupiter in 1994. That episode reportedly produced the most spectacular explosions ever witnessed in the solar system. Levy currently is involved with the Jarnac Comet Survey, based at the Jarnac Observatory in Vail, Arizona.

“The subject of this presentation is the story of my life,” says Levy. “I have had over 70 happy years, along with the eclipses, comets, displays of the northern lights, and a cosmic impact that have punctuated the years. Even though the cycle of my life story centers on the night sky, some of its details concern my life-long battle against depression,” Levy says, explaining that he was a shy and lonely child who found comfort in his early looks at the night sky.

“As the years passed, I turned my childhood friendship with the night sky into a passion for it. I now have many, many good friends (many of them astronomical friends),” he says.

Levy is an adjunct scientist and member of the National Advisory Board for the Flandrau Science Center at the University of Arizona.  He is the author or editor of 35 books and other products. He won an Emmy in 1998 as part of the writing team for the Discovery Channel documentary, “Three Minutes to Impact.” He was the science editor for Parade Magazine; a contributing editor for Sky and Telescope Magazine, writing its monthly “Star Trails” column for 20 years; and his “Nightfall” feature appeared in Skynews magazine.  He currently writes a monthly column, “Skyward,” for a number of periodicals.

The presentation is at 1751 N. Rio Mayo in Green Valley, at 7 p.m. A telescope viewing and book signing will follow. The cost is $10. For reservations and more information call 648-6690.