Steve Coe 1949-2018

Today I learned of the passing of Steven Coe, an amateur observer well known and admired in the Arizona community and elsewhere. He had been having health issues on and off for the past few years, but would usually bounce right back and you could again find him out in the dark with a telescope somewhere.

Steven Coe
Steven Coe set up at the 2004 All Arizona Star Party
I spent many nights observing with Steve and the rest of the usual gang at star parties in Southern Arizona. Nights at Sentinel or Farnsworth Ranch, he was nearly always there, one of the most dedicated visual observers in the community.

Go to the new moon events in southern AZ, wherever they were that month, and you would find Steve, AJ Crayon, Tom Polakis, and the rest. If everyone was there, it was going to be a good night. They were very memorable nights indeed.

If you saw Steve setting up at a star party you always wanted to setup nearby, you would learn so much just listening through the night. You were always welcome at his eyepiece, and what I saw there was so often something I had never seen before. A distant quasar, or some obscure gem of a nebula not found in the usual guides. Steve knew so much about the sky, and would cheerfully share that knowledge.

Some of that knowledge will live on, from his many contributions to the excellent Night Sky Guide volumes, to many magazine articles, and his frequent reports on the AZ-Observing mailing list.

Steve authored several of his own books that share his love of the night sky. My favorite is Deep-Sky Observing: The Astronomical Tourist or the second edition Deep Sky Observing: An Astronomical Tour. I have a signed copy of his first edition.

After learning of his death I will have to pickup a copy of his Touching the Universe: My Favorite Twenty Nights Viewing the Sky. The book is largely autobiographical and chronicles his twenty favorite observing sessions out of the thousands of nights he spent with a telescope. I note with pleasure that I shared one of those twenty dark nights, the 2002 All Arizona Messier Marathon.

Along with knowledge he passed along a love of the night sky and all of the wonders of the universe accessible to a small telescope. I count myself lucky to be among those who can pass that love along to others.

Farewell Steve! May you have nothing but dark nights and clear skies!

Telescope Line
The telescope line at Sentinel for the 2005 Sentinel-Schwaar Star Gaze

Author: Andrew

An electrical engineer, amateur astronomer, and diver, living and working on the island of Hawaiʻi.

5 thoughts on “Steve Coe 1949-2018”

  1. A very nice memorial piece about Steve. I bet our crew here on the big island will feel the same about viewing with you ,Chris and Cliff on the passing of you guy’s some day. Heres hoping that day is many years in the future,and may we enjoy many more nites with you all. And lets continue to honor and enjoy the Mauna.

    One of my best astro memories will be the day the club spent up on top visiting 4 telescopes intimately in one day. ( A trip set up by you)Oh and riding withyou on the drive was especially
    A thrill. Lol.

    1. Thanks Dan! Steve was among those who set the standard I try to follow. If you have benefited from my knowledge you now know where some of it came from.

  2. I am sincerely sorry to hear of the loss of such a fine contributing member of the astronomical community. Steve will certainly be missed.

  3. Thank you so much for this wonderful post as I just learned of Steve’s “graduation” from this life. I met Steve when he was married to a friend of mine and my husband and I had him to our house for night star viewing parties many times over the years. He was so knowledgeable and so patient in all his teachings. I was reaching out to him today regarding a possible party this year which directed me to your post. I am so saddened of this news but so happy to have shared the night sky with him.

  4. A touching tribute. Steve and I were acquainted as Kellam High School students and later as crew members in USS Tautog SSN 639. It is interesting to read his books and find out a little about his passion for astronomy after our lives diverged so many years ago. Clear Skies, Glenn Miller

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