On the road: A dinner with legendary comet discoverers

Posted by David Eicher
on Saturday, February 16, 2013

Dinner with Canadian comet discoverers, February 15, 2013: l. to r., Rolf Meier, Wendee Levy, David Levy, Linda Meier, John Eicher, El Charro Cafe, Tucson. // photo by David J. Eicher
It isn’t every day that you dine with two accomplished amateur astronomers who between them have discovered 26 comets. But such was the case on Friday evening, February 15, when I had the pleasure of catching up with two old friends — David Levy and Rolf Meier. Both Canadians, David moved to Tucson long ago and is highly celebrated for his 22 comet discoveries, the most famous of which is the co-discovery, along with the Shoemakers, of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9. This was the comet that crashed into Jupiter in 1994, an event never before observed in the history of the solar system. David is a contributing editor of Astronomy magazine. Rolf is in Ottawa, the discoverer of four comets, and is still busily engaged in doing astronomy as a hobby.

David’s wife, Wendee, joined us, as did Rolf’s wife, Linda, and I brought my father, John, along. We went to a favorite restaurant in Tucson, the El Charro Cafe, which, by virtue of serving continuously since 1922, is the oldest Mexican restaurant in the United States. (“Ah, that’s nothing,” said my dad.“I was a year old when this place opened.”) The conversation washed all over the landscape, going from the asteroid fall in Russia to the upcoming bright comets, PANSTARRS and ISON. We talked about all periods of history and solved the world’s problems. It was a wonderful night and great to catch up with such close friends who I have known since I was a teenager.

I’m especially delighted to report that David is writing the foreword for the upcoming book on comets I’m producing for Cambridge University Press.

This all happened following a long day at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, in which the talk among all the meteorite dealers was of course about the Russian fall the day before. I think that if any Tucson flights went straight to the Urals, a bunch of them would have fled onto a plane.

Right now we're having our big all-day public star party at Pima Community College, and I will report on that tomorrow.

Related blogs:
On the road: Prepping for the 2013 Tucson Star Party, by Senior Editor Michael E. Bakich

On the road: Meteorites at the 2013 Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, by Editor David J. Eicher 

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