November 01, 2010

Astronomer David Levy to speak at SIUC

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Astronomer David Levy reads the night sky like poetry, seeing not only what is there but what was there as well.

Levy delivers the Southern Illinois University Carbondale Michael and Nancy Glassman University Honors Lecture Series address at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 16 in the Student Center Ballroom D. His subject is: “Poetry of the Night: Discovering Relationships between the Night Sky, English Literature, and Music.” A reception and book signing follow. This is a free event.

Levy tends to do things on a grand scale. He discovered the comet that collided with Jupiter in 1994, but that is one of 22 comets he has discovered. He is the author or editor of 35 books and related materials. This lecture at SIUC will be one of more than a thousand. And, as the science editor for Parade Magazine, Levy reaches more than 80 million readers.

In addition to all of that, Levy earned an Emmy in 1998 for his contributions to the Discovery Channel documentary, “Three Minutes to Impact.” He contributes to Sky and Telescope Magazine, to Canadian Magazine Skynews, and he hosts a weekly radio talk show about stars and the night sky.

What does all this public speaking and writing mean for Southern Illinois residents? It means that Levy’s lecture will entertain as well as educate. He will talk about the stars in the sky not only as they appear to us, but as they appeared a century, two centuries, longer ago -- and how writers from those times referred to the sky and the stars and to celestial events. Levy will also discuss musical allusions to the night sky. There are stories above us in the firmament, and Levy will translate them.

Among Levy’s books are: “Comets: Creators and Destroyers,” “The Quest for Comets,” “Impact Jupiter,” and relating to this lecture, “Starry Night: Astronomers and Poets Read the Sky.”

An endowment from Nancy Kreftmeyer Glassman makes the annual Michael and Nancy Glassman Distinguished Lecture possible. The Glassmans are both SIUC alumni and met while they were both students here.