by Ed Mizzi
Well, the much anticipated visit by David Levy was well worth the wait, as over 50 people showed up for his talk. The audience included Hamilton Centre members, London Centre members, members of the HAA and the general public. Thanks to Peter Jedicke from the London Centre for arranging to have Dr. Levy speak to us and getting David to the venue.
Before Dr. Levy arrived, the Hamilton Centre had its AGM, during which Board Directors gave a synopsis of their work for the past year and the Centre held its annual elections. But it was obvious that, even though the AGM is an important event, people were patiently awaiting David Levy’s arrival. And we were all excited when he walked into the room, this famous but humble comet hunter and amateur astronomer extraordinaire. The air in the room was electrified as David was introduced by Victor Graham and then began his talk.
Dr. Levy used several phrases from poems and prose, from the likes of Shakespeare and Hopkins, (words that reflected his work as a comet hunter), to enhance his descriptions of his discoveries and life as an avid visual astronomer.
David began with a short slideshow about the love of his life, his wife Wendee, who passed away in 2022, and it was clear that he had lost someone who was not only his partner and soulmate, but someone who was there for David throughout his journey as an astronomer.
He then described his work in locating comets simply by observing the night sky. He commented that comet hunting was easy, but the hard part was finding them. He was truly dedicated to watching the night sky continually, with his boyhood dream of one day discovering a comet he could call his own.
Throughout the talk, it was obvious that David was truly passionate about his vocation, willing to share with the world and yet meek and modest about his successes.
He ended with this poem by Hopkins…but please visit the link for more information…
GERARD MANLEY HOPKINS, ENGLISH POET AND JESUIT PRIEST, AFTER OBSERVING TEMPEL’S COMET IN 1864
FROM DUST TO DUST
I am like a slip of comet,
Scarce worth discovery, in some corner seen
Bridging the slender difference of two stars,
Come out of space, or suddenly engender’d
By heady elements, for no man knows:
But when she sights the sun she grows and sizes
And spins her skirts out, while her central star
Shakes its cocooning mists; and so she comes
To fields of light; millions of travelling rays
Pierce her; she hangs upon the flame-cased sun,
And sucks the light as full as Gideon’s fleece:
But then her tether calls her; she falls off,
And as she dwindles shreds her smock of gold
Amidst the sistering planets, till she comes
To single Saturn, last and solitary;
And then goes out into the cavernous dark.
So I go out: my little sweet is done:
I have drawn heat from this contagious sun:
To not ungentle death now forth I run.