Sunday, March 29, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Jasper festival lights up the night sky

By
From page B5 | December 07, 2013 |

JASPER, ALBERTA , CANADA — Famed astronomer David Levy hits a personal high note when he reflected upon the “spiritual” side of his heavenly work.

“For me, it’s everything,” said the Montreal-born Levy. “If I didn’t have a spiritual aspect to my interest in astronomy, I wouldn’t be doing it. It is everything.

“Not to take away from the science, not to take away from the observing experience, but the fact that there is a spiritual center to it is everything.”

Levy was one of the “star” speakers at the third-annual Jasper Dark Sky Festival recently in Jasper National Park, where Canada’s magnificent Rocky Mountain lakes and mountains move from center stage and all eyes turn heavenward for life-altering views of the largest accessible dark sky preserve in the world.

I met Levy as I walked into the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge on the shores of beautiful Beauvert Lake.

I passed someone wearing a Hebrew University of Jerusalem sweatshirt and knew it had to be Levy, who earned a doctorate in Jerusalem for his thesis on allusions to celestial events in Elizabethan and Jacobean Writing.

Levy’s well-known astronomy persona is tied to the famous Shoemaker-Levy 9 comet, which he discovered with Carolyn and Eugene Shoemaker in 1994 at the Palomar Observatory in California. The comet collided with Jupiter that same year.

Levy has discovered a total of 22 comets, nine of them with his own backyard telescopes, and is involved with the Jarnac Comet Survey based at the Jarnac Observatory in Vail, Arizona.

My first night of star-gazing up here was at Palisades Centre, outside the small town of Jasper.

The moonless sky was like a painter’s canvas, all lit up as I have never seen it lit up with heavenly life. A Parks Canada astronomer, laser pointer in hand, showed us things such as structural images of the Milky Way, in addition to colorful clouds called nebula, where new stars are forming, and star clusters resembling grains of sand.

The astronomer also called our attention to what he called “a smudge in the sky,” which turned out to be the Andromeda galaxy – “it’s 2.5 million light years away – so it’s not just a hop, skip and a jump.”

And then there was another object, looking as bright as a star, which turned out to be the international space station with six astronauts inside it.

Canadian columnist Peter McMahon of Sky News magazine, later told me: “Once you’re under skies like that, where it’s clear and dark and moonless, you start to see not only the Milky Way . . . but you see structure in the Milky Way . . . like a stretched out octopus . . .  .”

McMahon, known as the “sky-guy in residence” during the festival, played a role in getting the festival going three years ago after walking around town and seeing how dark it really was.

McMahon also thrilled listeners with predictions about ordinary people eventually going off on vacations into outer space one day.

“One of neatest things about Jasper is it’s the only place in the world where you can see the night sky over some of the terrain…not just over the mountains, but over canyons and glaciers, and hot springs and water falls . . . ,”  said McMahon.

At next year’s Dark Sky Festival, Chris Hadfield, Canada’s first astronaut to walk in space, will be the headline speaker. For 146 days, Hadfield steered the largest space ship ever built through outer space.

While the best time to see the heavens here is in the deep darkness, Jasper also affords prized opportunities to see the moon in the daytime and the planets at dusk and dawn. It’s one of the perks of the outdoor experience in Jasper, located about 194 miles west of Edmonton.

As early as 1915, visitors recognized the special qualities of this place when they organized the beginnings of today’s Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge with luxury tents.

The Canadian National Railway took over the fledgling resort in 1921 and turned it into eight log cabins, launching the Jasper Park Lodge in 1922 with its popular golf course.

Today’s lodge also includes the large main building, an outdoor swimming pool, a spa, shops and restaurants, and, of course, rustic guest cabins.

In the lodge, Levy turned to William Shakespeare, one of his “favorite amateur astronomers,” and said: “In a lot of my talks, I . . . picture William Shakespeare coming back to life . . . and we all look . . . fascinated at this ghost of a man sitting there (in the audience).

“And I go over to him, and I ask him, ‘Would you have written “Hamlet”  the same way now?’ . . . And he says, ‘No, forget it. Don’t ask me these questions. I’m not here to talk about “Hamlet.” I’m here because there’s a bright comet scheduled to come in a few months, and I want to see it, and I want to take a picture of it . . .’ ”

George Medovoy writes on travel at www.postcardsforyou.com.

When you go:

www.jasper.travel

www.fairmont.com/Jasper

www.jasperdarksky.org.

George Medovoy

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Vanden High library project nears completion

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Vanden girls end stellar season

By Brian Arnold | From Page: C1 | Gallery

Cheers for Jupiter – and roller derby

By Brad Stanhope | From Page: A2

 
Vacaville police make arrest after pursuit

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Red Cross volunteers help assemble first aid kits

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
PG&E helps replace stolen equipment

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3

Justin-Siena names new principal

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3

 
Free paper shredding option returns to Fairfield

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Vacaville bridal, quinceanera show a hit

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5

Event benefits child who attends Cambridge School

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Best barometer of investment success: Wealth

By Mark Sievers | From Page: B8

Hike in minimum wage cuts deep into businesses

By Bud Stevenson | From Page: B8

 
Don’t be an unhealthy breakfaster skipper

By Norma Lisenko | From Page: B8

Tips on hydrozoning your garden

By Tina Saravia | From Page: B8

 
Fairfield police log: March 27, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: March 27, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

.

US / World

Gang chief, international fugitive among dozens paroled

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Experts: Sex bias case will embolden women despite verdict

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Crash victim’s father calls for more focus on pilot welfare

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Man rescued after falling 200 feet off California sea cliff

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Popular Yosemite National Park lookout opens early in season

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Eiffel Tower goes dark in symbolic move for Earth Hour

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

Bird flu found in a top Minnesota turkey producing county

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
Some British Airways frequent flier accounts miles breached

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

7 shot and injured at Florida spring break house party

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
Boko Haram kills 39, legislator, disrupting Nigeria election

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

Official: Al-Shabab siege at Somali hotel ends, 24 dead

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
Hundreds rally against Indiana law, say it’s discriminatory

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

Islamic fighters led by al-Qaida in Syria seize major city

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
.

Opinion

Thanks for making prom dreams come true

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Free speech a right worth protecting

By Dan Walters | From Page: A8

Liberty, property rights 2 sides of same coin

By Brian Thiemer | From Page: A8

 
Sound Off: March 29, 2015

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

 
Improve Allan Witt Park; how about rest of Fairfield?

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

.

Living

Today in History: March 29, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: March 29, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Pope finds popularity and dissent at 2-year mark

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

 
Truth does not change

By The Rev. Art Zacher | From Page: C3

Horoscopes: March 29, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B8

 
Daughter choses stepdad over father to walk her down the aisle

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B8

.

Entertainment

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST-SELLERS

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Second Julie Andrews memoir expected in 2017

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Chrissie Hynde memoir coming in September

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

.

Sports

 
Warriors beat Bucks 108-95, clinch top seed in West

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Wisconsin heads to Final Four after 85-78 win over Arizona

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Burns scores winner in SO to lift Sharks past Flyers, 3-2

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Power leads Penske sweep in qualifying for IndyCar opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Revolution win first of season, beating Earthquakes 2-1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Jenest pitches SCC baseball team to shutout of Contra Costa

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

AP sources: Texas fires coach Barnes after 17 years

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Kazmir, Quintana both strong; A’s beat White Sox 10-4

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Zunino homers twice, but Giants rally to edge Mariners 9-8

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Gordon, Earnhardt among the winners and fans of Martinsville

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Prince Bishop wins Dubai World Cup, California Chrome 2nd

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Serena Williams easily wins opening match at Miami Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Jimmy Walker leads hometown Texas Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
.

Business

A glance at women in leadership roles in business worldwide

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
For business, more women in charge means bigger profits

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

US drillers scrambling to thwart OPEC threat

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
Test trial to use computer servers to heat homes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B14

.

Obituaries

Robert Roberts

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Janice Jewel Thompson

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Betty Mason

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Tiffany Lyn (Helzer) Kemp

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Richard F. Coleman

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
James Lee Lewis

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Helen Kalis

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Carol A. Vose

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics