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A Nightwatchman's Journey:

My Life as a Comet Hunter

by Dr. David Levy

a FREE public lecture—all welcome

THURSDAY, 3 November

Saint Mary's University

Sobey Building SB255 (map)

7:30 p.m.


50 years ago, on 17 December 1965 near midnight, after taking the dog for a walk, I began my search for comets. That search is still going on. At the time I set it up as a lifetime project because I believed that it might take my whole life to discover a single comet. It turns out that I've been a bit luckier than that; as of today I have found 23 comets. Although none of these comets have dominated the sky from dusk to dawn with tails wrapping themselves around the North star, four of them have been particularly interesting. The one I found in 1988 was a fragment from a larger comet that split apart thousands of years ago, and two years later I found a comet that became fairly bright and visible to the unaided eye during the summer of 1990. In 2010, using the telescope Tom had in our backyard, my wife Wendee, Tom, and I reported a comet. However, because the object was not initially identified as a comet, it was named Jarnac after our observatory, which in turn is named after my grandfather's cottage near Ripon, Québec. Finally, comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 gave humanity its first glimpse into the mystery of the origin of life, as it slammed into Jupiter in the summer of 1994. This talk explores my life as a searcher of comets, and is accompanied by slides and musical selections.

NOTE: This is a special public lecture. The RASC Halifax Centre will also have it's regular November meeting at the usual place and time on Friday 18 November. Stay tuned...

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