Scientist Explores the Links Between the Night Sky and English Literature

Posted on Wednesday 4th March 2009

David H. Levy, American comet discoverer, will be at the University of Birmingham on Monday 9th March to talk about ‘Poetry of the Night: A marvellous union between science and literature’. 

David’s talk will examine how, in October 1605, Londoners experienced an almost total eclipse of the Sun at around the same time that Shakespeare’s King Lear was exploring humanity’s relationship to the cosmos.  ‘These late eclipses in the Sun and Moon’, a passage from the play, begins a sophisticated discussion of that relationship, based on real events in the night sky.  In his lecture David will explore a number of examples of the richness of astronomical allusions in English literature.

David is an author and broadcaster, as well as a scientist.  He has discovered 22 comets, nine of them using his own backyard telescopes.  He also helped to discover the comet that collided with Jupiter in 1994 – a collision which produced the most spectacular explosions ever witnessed in the solar system.  He is currently involved with the Jarnac Comet Survey, based at the Jarnac Observatory in Arizona, which has telescopes planned for locations all around the world.  He is also president of the National Sharing the Sky Foundation, an organisation intended to inspire new generations to develop an interest in the sciences. 

David’s talk, which is part of the Patrick Moore lecture series, will be held at 7.30pm  in the University of Birmingham School of Physics and Astronomy’s Poynting lecture theatre. 

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Notes to Editors

1. The talk takes place in the Poynting Large Lecture Theatre.  Tea and coffee will be served prior to the lecture at 7pm. 

2. This series of public lectures is organised by the University of Birmingham’s student society, Astrosoc, and the School of Physics and Astronomy, funded by the Royal Astronomical Society. The lectures are followed (dependent on the weather) by night sky observing with a combination of telescopes focusing on the Astronomical society's historic Grubb telescope (dating from 1872). For further information please visit: www.sr.bham.ac.uk/outreach/talktelescope/

For further media information

Kate Chapple, Press Officer, University of Birmingham, tel 0121 414 2772 or 07789 921164.