When I first became a member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) Ottawa Centre, I attended one of its many star parties at the Canada Science and Technology Museum. Near the entrance of the building where the daytime public viewing was taking place, I met an older gentleman showing the Sun to the attendees, young and old, through his small telescope. He was enthusiastically describing the sunspots and how the Sun produces them. He excitedly talked about astronomy in all its forms; from the Sun, to the planets, to the stars, to the galaxies (his speciality) and finally to the universe. This is when I first met Paul G. Comision.
The next time I saw Paul was when he was delivering one of his many talks on "The Cutting Edge of Astronomy". With each talk he gave at every meeting, he could not hide his curiosity for what was coming next in the sciences of astronomy, astrophysics and cosmology. I was quite impressed with his professionalism and his sense of loyalty to the Ottawa RASC. All of that rubbed off on me.
Paul Comision would be a very dear friend of mine over nearly 20 years. When I held my first meeting as Meeting Chair, he gave me pointers and advice with regard to presentation and how to entertain the audience, while keeping my passion for astronomy. When my term as Meeting Chair ended two years later, Paul hired me to upgrade his Omega observatory with the latest model Meade goto telescope and SBIG CCD camera. I had upgraded the facility such that Paul could use his observatory from the comfort of his sun room. I regularly visited Paul and his wife and we talked through much of the night about astronomy, the RASC, politics and sometimes all three at the same time. I still remember our talks and will always remember his enthusiasm, curiosity and jovial demeanour. I especially remember his booming voice, which could easily fill a football stadium as well as as the auditorium during the RASC meetings.
Paul was larger than life in many ways, even when he could not attend the public star parties and public viewings anymore. When I finished the observatory upgrades, he would proudly give me the credit for much of the work done to anyone who would listen. If I had those types of compliments from other former employers, I think that I would be much more well off right now. Paul had a way of bringing you into astronomy in ways I wish I could. Although I can hold a meeting, teach courses and enthusiastically attend star parties, he could not only keep people excited but keep them hooked. This is one skill that I wish I could master like he did.
Paul Comision was one of the greatest astronomers that I have ever known. He was the best not only for his experience but also for his enthusiasm, curiosity and his charisma with others. I briefly talked with Paul sooner after receiving my PhD in June 2017. He sounded just as lively as ever although he was no longer attending the Ottawa RASC meetings because of health issues. He passed away with his wife by his side on the morning of February 18, 2018 at the age of 89. On that day, I wrote a small dedication for the Ottawa RASC Google Groups e-mail account, which read:
"With the passing of Paul Gregory Comision, a true giant of the Ottawa RASC, we have lost one of the greatest astronomers in Canada. He was great not only for his experience in the subject, but also for his enthusiasm and insatiable curiosity that was so infectious to us all. He was a wonderful mentor to so many of us as we learned about communicating the wonders of astronomy to large audiences and star party attendees. Paul was a rock of the Ottawa Centre, always cheerful and full of life. Paul’s “Cutting Edge of Astronomy“ talks showed that he could appreciate the future of astronomy as well as what was already known. He always wanted to know more, which was such a wonderful motivator for the young and old alike.
As I deliver my seminar a week from Tuesday, I will be dedicating the talk to Mr. Paul G. Comision, with much respect.
So long, my old friend. Nobody can possibly replace you. May your booming voice forever echo throughout the heavens.
Dr. Michael A. Earl"
A seminar that I will be delivering on Tuesday, February 27, 2018 at the University of Saskatchewan will be dedicated to Paul afterward. I will say the same things I said on this page. Paul kept me interested in astronomy long enough so that I could begin and conclude both my Masters and PhD in space science. I am very glad that he lived long enough to know that I graduated with my doctorate.
So long Paul. You will be missed by so many astronomers who looked to you for inspiration. You always delivered. You can finally rest amongst the galaxies that you loved to observe.
Dr. Michael A. Earl - February 26, 2018
Paul Gregory Comision: 1929-2018 Was Last Modified On February 26, 2018