Shoemaker, Carolyn and Eugene, and Levy, David

▪ 1995

       For six days between July 16 and 22, 1994, Carolyn Shoemaker, her husband Eugene, and fellow comet hunter David Levy peered anxiously through telescopes to watch the estimated 21 major fragments of the comet they had jointly discovered—Shoemaker-Levy 9—pummel the planet Jupiter. Following months of speculation as to what the impacts would entail, the event itself proved equal to the most optimistic predictions. From the atmosphere of a bruised and battered Jupiter arose tall, bright plumes that left broad, dark stains beneath them, providing a spectacular show for sky watchers around the world. (See Astronomy .)

      The team discovered the fragmented comet in orbit around Jupiter in March 1993 at the Palomar Observatory in southern California. The find was certainly not the first for the veteran comet spotters: as of late 1994 Carolyn had 32 comet discoveries to her credit, more than anyone alive and only five less than the all-time record held by the 19th-century amateur astronomer Jean-Louis Pons. Eugene (Gene to his acquaintances) was credited with 29, and Levy with 21, of which 13 were in collaboration with the Shoemakers.

      Of the three team members only Gene was formally trained as a scientist. Born April 28, 1928, in Los Angeles, Calif., Eugene Merle Shoemaker received a bachelor's degree in geology from the California Institute of Technology and a doctorate from Princeton University. He worked for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) from 1948 to 1993, serving thereafter as scientist emeritus. In the 1960s Gene established the astrogeology branch of the USGS and subsequently its astrogeology centre at Flagstaff, Ariz. He was noted for helping to confirm the impact origin (rather than volcanic origin) of the site now known as Meteor Crater in Arizona and for his work with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on lunar exploration missions.

      Carolyn Spellman Shoemaker was born in Gallup, N.M., June 24, 1929. She received bachelor's and master's degrees from Chico (Calif.) State College, having studied history, political science, and English literature. She and Gene were married on Aug. 18, 1951. After teaching high school for a year, Carolyn remained at home to raise their three children. Not until the children left home did she begin helping her husband to search for asteroids and comets, a task at which she became an expert. In 1980 Carolyn accepted a position as a visiting scientist with the astrogeology branch of the USGS and in 1989 also began serving as research professor of astronomy at Northern Arizona University. Both Carolyn and Gene were on the staff of Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff.

      Amateur astronomer David Levy met the Shoemakers in 1988 as a result of a comet he had discovered and they were tracking. Born in Montreal on May 22, 1948, Levy developed an interest in astronomy at an early age. In college, however, he studied English literature, receiving a bachelor's degree from Acadia (Nova Scotia) University and a master's degree from Queen's University, Kingston, Ont. A science writer by trade, he was the author of 11 books on astronomy, including his latest, The Quest for Comets (1994), and contributed a monthly column to the magazine Sky and Telescope. He noted that, although Shoemaker-Levy 9 had made a forceful impact on Jupiter, its reverberations on Earth were even greater, as the widely reported summer event rekindled popular interest in the starry skies above. (MARY JANE FRIEDRICH)

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Levy, David H. — ▪ amateur astronomer born May 22, 1948, Montreal, Que., Can.       amateur astronomer who discovered along with Carolyn Shoemaker (Shoemaker, Carolyn) and Eugene Shoemaker (Shoemaker, Gene) the fragmented comet Shoemaker Levy 9 (Shoemaker Levy 9 …   Universalium

  • Shoemaker, Gene — ▪ American astrogeologist byname of  Eugene Merle Shoemaker  born April 28, 1928, Los Angeles, Calif., U.S. died July 18, 1997, near Alice Springs, N.Terr., Austl.       American astrogeologist who along with his wife, Carolyn Shoemaker… …   Universalium

  • David H. Levy — For other people of the same name, see David Levy (disambiguation). David Levy giving a lecture at JPL. Asteroids discovered: 41 5261 Eureka …   Wikipedia

  • David H. Levy — Pour les articles homonymes, voir David Levy (joueur d échecs) et Lévy. David H. Levy …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Shoemaker-Levy 9 — Comet that collided with t he planet Jupiter in July 1994, discovered by Carolyn and Eugene Shoemaker and David Levy 16 months earlier. The comet was torn apart into more than 20 fragments during a close encounter with Jupiter in July 1992,… …   Universalium

  • Eugene Merle Shoemaker — Infobox Scientist name = Eugene Merle Shoemaker box width = image width =250px caption = Eugene Shoemaker at a stereoscopic microscope used for asteroid discovery birth date = April 28, 1928 birth place = Los Angeles, California death date = July …   Wikipedia

  • Shoemaker, Eugene Merle — ▪ 1998       ( GENE ), American planetary geologist (b. April 28, 1928, Los Angeles, Calif. d. July 18, 1997, Alice Springs, Australia), was hailed as one of the chief founders of planetary geology and considered by many scientists to be the… …   Universalium

  • Shoemaker-Levy 9, Comet — ▪ astronomy  comet whose shattered nucleus crashed into Jupiter over the period of July 16–22, 1994. The cataclysmic event, the first collision between two solar system bodies ever observed, was monitored from Earth based telescopes worldwide,… …   Universalium

  • Shoemaker — /ˈʃumeɪkə/ (say shoohmaykuh) noun 1. Carolyn Spellman, born 1929, US astronomer. 2. her husband, Gene (Eugene Merle Shoemaker), 1928–97, US astronomer; with his wife and David Levy discovered many comets, including Shoemaker Levy 9 which hit the… …   Australian English dictionary

  • Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9: A Spectacular Good-bye — ▪ 1995       In March 1993 a previously unknown comet caught the attention of veteran comet spotters Carolyn and Eugene Shoemaker and David Levy. (See BIOGRAPHIES (Shoemaker, Carolyn and Eugene, and Levy, David ).) Most unusual about Comet… …   Universalium

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