Dr Levy’s logbooks will be of huge interest to science historians. The page seen here records his very first observation of the comet that bore his name. Credit: Jarnac Observatory/RASC
The logbooks of Dr David Levy, one of the world’s most respected amateur astronomers and the discoverer of 22 comets including Shoemaker-Levy 9, can now be viewed online or downloaded for free.
It’s a fascinating insight into the observing habits of this most unique figure in the world of astronomy.
A complete series of notebooks dating from 1959 – when an 11-year-old Levy observed a partial solar eclipse – through to 2008 (23 notebooks in total) is available at a new RASC microsite, thanks to a joint project between the Jarnac Observatory, Arizona (of which Levy is Director) and the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC).
In a statement issued by the RASC, Dr Levy said:
“Not long ago, my wife Wendee and I asked our daughter Nanette if she would like to undertake the challenge of digitising all of my observing archive.
Nanette has done a superb job, completing the task over the course of a year.
It is my hope that members of the RASC and visitors to the RASC website will be able to read, study, and enjoy this archive, and that it will help inspire them to keep records of their own observing sessions.”
Adding interest to the logbooks is the fact that they’re interspersed with signed ‘guest comments’ from people who accompanied Dr Levy on some of his observing sessions, such as Clyde Tombaugh, discoverer of Pluto, plus Levy’s own sketches and photographs.
The intention is that the archive will be updated on an ongoing basis.