In Honor of Judy Young

My mother passed away early in the morning on Friday, May 23rd. She departed with immense ease and light, after a day surrounded by loved ones. I was blessed to be with her through the days leading up to her passing.

Two memorial services will be held in her honor: 

1) Wednesday June 4th: 7 pm at the UMass Sunwheel, rain or shine (BYO chair and umbrella if needed). Gabrielli LaChiara will lead the service.

2) Thursday June 5th: 10 am at the Jewish Community of Amherst. Rabbi Weiner will lead the service.

This blog entry is dedicated to her memory, and a small portion of the work and play she loved. I hope you'll share your own memories of her as well, and connect with the many people whose lives she touched. 

If you're not already familiar with it, please enjoy the blog she wrote from 2008 - 2010, Living Joyfully With What Is

Whether or not you can visit the UMass Sunwheel for Judy's memorial service, there are fascinating insights on the interconnection of sky and season on theSunwheel website that she created. 

Her home page through UMass contains links to more of her work, accomplishments, and interests.

Her more recent teachings are described on her website, Astronomy and Spirituality In Our Daily Lives.

Judy's obituary will appear in the Hampshire Gazette on Wednesday, May 28.

Judy Young, University of Massachusetts Astronomy Professor and longtime resident of Amherst, passed away in the early morning on Friday, May 23rd. She is mourned by her daughter, Laura Little; her mother, Vera Rubin; her three brothers, David, Karl, and Allan Rubin; and a remarkable network of family, dear friends, and lifelong learners around the world.

Judy was born on September 15th, 1952 to Bob and Vera Rubin, the latter a noted astronomer whose teachings on black holes inspired Judy to become an astronomer as well. Judy earned a bachelors degree with honors from Radcliffe/Harvard University in 1974 and a doctorate in physics from the University of Minnesota in 1979. 

Judy served as Professor of Astronomy at UMass from 1993-2013. Her work on star formation in galaxies earned international recognition and many awards throughout her distinguished career. She was a tireless support and friend to the many students she mentored, who remember her for her dedication, passion, humor, and warmth. She dreamed up and built the UMass Sunwheel, a stone circle whose 8-10ft. standing stones line up with the rising and setting sun during solstices and equinoxes. Judy led seasonal sunrise and sunset gatherings at the Sunwheel, making the connections between sky and earth real for over 8,000 visitors. 

Judy enthusiastically shared not only her knowledge and passion for science with those around her, but also her deep love of living. She cultivated a profound connection with nature, and enjoyed backpacking, biking, hiking, and simply being outside. Her garden is a Certified Wildlife Habitat and has been featured in the Amherst Garden Tour. Above all, Judy loved her daughter Laura, with whom she shared a bond of warmth, support, silliness, song, and love. 

In 2006 Judy was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, the cancer that later claimed the life of her father. Even as her health challenges increased, Judy continued for many years to dedicate herself to teaching and sharing her insights. The blog she created, Living Joyfully With What Is, shares a beautiful series of thoughts on her journey and her unflinching determination to enjoy what life has to offer in spite (and because) of its brevity. Her spirit and her independent, courageous, joyful approach to living were an inspiration to the many lives she touched. 

Two services will be held to celebrate Judy's life and honor her memory: one outdoors on Wednesday June 4th, 7 pm at the UMass Sunwheel, rain or shine; and one indoors on Thursday June 5th, at the Jewish Community of Amherst. Both will be open to the public. All are encouraged to wear vibrant colors, in celebration of life. If you are so moved, please consider making a donation to The Nature Conservancy in her honor.