Emily M. Levesque

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January 2019


Dr. Emily Levesque is an astronomy professor at the University of Washington and studies the evolution of dying stars. She has observed for upwards of 50 nights on many of the world’s largest optical telescopes, visited more than a dozen leading observatories, and used the Hubble Space Telescope for her research.

She received her S.B. in physics from MIT and her PhD in astronomy from the University of Hawaii. In 2014 she was awarded the Annie Jump Cannon Prize by the American Astronomical Society. She is a 2017 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow in Physics and a 2019 Cottrell Scholar.

Average rating: 4.21 · 384 ratings · 85 reviews · 3 distinct worksSimilar authors
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“Dinner on Kitt Peak wrapped up in time for everyone to head outside and watch the sunset together before scattering to the telescope, a time-honored tradition of astronomers everywhere. If asked, we would all supply some good practical scientific reasoning behind the habit - you get a glimpse of what sort of night it's going to be, a sense of upcoming weather, the sky quality, and so on - but the basic reason remains that it's simply beautiful. Standing on a remote mountain with the earth stretching out into the distance and slowly spinning away from our nearest star, it's a wonderful quiet moment to enjoy the vastness and stillness and colors as the night begins. On any given evening, I can promise you that scattered across the planet are a few small groups of astronomers, standing on dome catwalks or dining hall patios or even just a stretch of hard-packed earth and pausing in their work for a few moments to admire the simple beauty of the sky.”
Emily M. Levesque, The Last Stargazers: The Enduring Story of Astronomy's Vanishing Explorers

“Why do we study the universe? Why do we look at the sky and ask questions, build telescopes, travel to the very limits of our planet to answer them? Why do we stargaze?

We don't know exactly why, but we must.”
Emily M. Levesque, The Last Stargazers: The Enduring Story of Astronomy's Vanishing Explorers

“An astoundingly perfect black void sat where the sun had been, surrounded by a jagged white nimbus of light that nearly brought me to tears. This was the solar corona, the hot outer edges of the sun's atmosphere that drive a flood of particles into space and generate a phenomenon known as a stellar wind, a key property of how our sun and other stars evolve. I had studied this particular aspect of stars for almost my entire life, using a dozen of the best telescopes in the world, but this was the first time I could see a star's wind with my own naked-eye. Around us, the sky was a strangely uniform dome of sunsets in every direction, and the warmth of sunlight had been replaced by an almost primal up-the-neck chill. It felt like the planet itself had been put on pause at this particular place and moment in time, a frozen moment of "look.”
Emily M. Levesque, The Last Stargazers: The Enduring Story of Astronomy's Vanishing Explorers




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