By David H. Levy
During the last almost two years I have been busier than ever, meeting many new people, giving lectures, quoting poetry, and advocating observing the night sky.
And Wendee and I have barely left home.
Obviously, I have not been able to give lectures in person since the Covid 19 pandemic began. On the home front for me, our local Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association meets the first Friday of every month online over the Zoom cloud. (see www.tucsonastronomy.org) But almost every day, I reconnect with friends in astronomy clubs around the world. On Tuesdays, I am a part of Scott Roberts’ weekly Global Star Party. (For more about this, visit https://explorescientificusa.com/products/explore-alliance-global-star-party) Scott has now had more than 60 of these wonderful events, and I enjoy each one. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, I am part of the Montreal Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, where I meet people I’ve known for years, especially Carl, one of my best friends since we were teenagers in 1964. As a graduate student at Queen’s University in the 1970s, I also was active with the RASC’s Kingston Centre. I have also reconnected with the Denver Astronomical Society, a group I joined in 1963 when I was a patient at the Jewish National Home for Asthmatic Children. That experience was precious back then, and it is even more delightful now!
One of the groups, the Warren Astronomical Society in Michigan, does not use Zoom. Instead, they have WebEx, which is just as simple to use. I have even participated in sessions sponsored by Kansas City’s Linda Hall Library, one of the largest science libraries in the world.
Not all of the online sessions are related to astronomy. Our local synagogue has a weekly Torah study session, and Wendee and I are regulars there. They also graciously listen to my poetry quotations, which range from Shakespeare to Chaucer, to this ancient one (from 1556) from Robert Recorde’s The Castle of Knowledge:
If Reasons reach transcend the Skie,
Why should it then to earth be bound?
The wit is wronged and led awrie,
If mind be married to the ground.
When the sessions drag on, as they sometimes do, I can get fatigued since I am not as young as I was in 1963 or 1979. But it is worth the effort, and I sincerely hope that the Zoom/WebEx experience will outlive the pandemic when it finally ends. Seeing friends so often like this is wonderful. And on some occasions, I have joined online meetings from a remote site in southeastern Arizona.
Sometimes, my quote tradition is something from scripture, like this gem from the Book of Isaiah:
Thou stretchest out the heavens as a curtain,
And spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in.
My goodness—I never realized how a few words from the Bible could affect me as much as these do. They describe my experience perfectly—outside, I am peering at the curtain of the night sky. Moreover, the observatory out of which I look at the sky, or the observing pad upon which I stand, is the cosmic tent in which I dwell.
David and Wendee Levy live in Vail. Together they run the Jarnac Observatory.