Sky's Up - Fall 2015 - Page 28

dark skies, enlightening experience A beautiful starry sky peeks through the canopy of trees that shroud the road into the Headlands International Dark Sky Park in Emmet County, Mich. Each October, the park hosts The Headlands Challenge program. During the event, visitors are invited to leave their cars at the entrance to the park and walk the one-mile candlelit path through the woods to the dark sky viewing area. By MARY STEWART ADAMS H COURTESY OF ADAM SMITH OF SYNEDOCHE DESIGN 28 Guest Columnist umanity has always been thrilled and challenged by the discovery of new and never-before seen objects and phenomena in the celestial world. Nowhere in contemporary culture is this experience more demonstrated than through the prolific work of David Levy, a brilliant research and discovery artist with a poet’s heart. Not content with mere binoculars and telescopes, David also makes use of poetry and prose to build a silver ladder into the night that enthusiasts of all ages may climb. As an artist, David’s medium is the world of stars surrounding the Earth, where comets and asteroids beat out an irregular rhythm that only wants discovery in order to find its harmonious place within the catalog of human-cosmic encounters. To his credit is the discovery of more than 20 comets, 42 asteroids and innumerable poetic references from throughout the ages of man, joined with the stars through more than 30 books. The Headlands International Dark Sky Park in Emmet County, Mich., recently enjoyed David’s talents and enthusiasm during an exciting evening program on his “Life and Hard Times as a Searcher of Comets.” David set the stage with an inspiring poetry recitation that was followed by pieces of his biography woven through with historic references, music, stunning images and even clips from the 1960s television western series “Bonanza,” which specifically referenced the early life of astrophysicist Albert Abram Michelson, who became the first American to receive the Nobel Prize in Science in 1907. The Headlands property is situated on the rugged shores of upper Lake Michigan, where the Straits of Mackinac meet the great lake in sometimes treacherous waters. In May 2011, the Emmet County Park became only the 6th International Dark Sky Park in the United States and only the 9th in the world, providing free Sky’s Up Sky’s Up COURTESY OF MARY STEWART ADAMS David Levy, center, poses with Mary Stewart Adams and Bryan Shumaker at the Headlands International Dark Sky Park in Emmet County, Mich. access to an unpolluted night sky for stargazers of all ages and skill level. The setting, though rugged, was ideal for David’s talk, where more than 200 guests were transported by trolley through the old growth forest that distinguishes the property in northern Michigan to the large festival tent that has served as a “program facility” while the county completes construction plans for an observatory building that will meet the demands of use now being experienced at the park. The tent was hung with lanterns and the moist autumn air was hung with anticipation for David’s stories of how he was inspired to his life’s work and what has resulted from his unwavering devotion to the art of discovery. Guests traveled from throughout the state and the region to hear David’s talk. After boisterous conversations shared in the long line of fans waiting for autographs at the book table, guests were treated to deep clear skies with the Milky Way arcing high overhead. In his play “As You Like It,” Shakespeare wrote, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” These famous words imply that the audience is the world of planets and stars — looking ever on with interest toward Earth and the activity taking place here as though it were but a mighty drama played out for the entertainment of some higher power. In the poetic device of the bard, this shift in audience suggests that rather than man on Earth seeking comets out there, it is the comets out there that seek man, and in David Levy’s case, they have found a star. ooo Mary Stewart Adams is a star lore historian and