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December 17, 2011

A lifetime of looking up: David H. Levy Logbooks, Royal Astronomical Society of Canada

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From an item in Tuesday's Washington Post:

Among backyard stargazers, David Levy is something of a legend. The Montreal-born science writer and amateur astronomer has been watching the sky since his childhood in the 1950s; he's been credited with discovering about 150 asteroids and co-discovering 22 comets — including Shoemaker-Levy 9, which, in 1994, famously slammed into Jupiter, causing a massive, well-documented explosion.

And night after night, he has been writing it all down. Now you can read it.

Last month the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada launched an online archive housing PDFs of his lifetime collection of logbooks. (Go to www.rasc.ca and type "David Levy" in the search box.) Volume 00 begins with his first recollections of watching the heavens, including: "Memory of stars resembling friendly beacons in a lonely night." But that's a rare bit of poetry: Most of Levy's log entries are limited to dates, data and a list of what was observed. Still, flipping through the pages upon pages of meticulous records — Volume 23 ends in 2008 — you can get a sense of Levy's passion for the stars. And, as Levy gained notoriety, his observation sessions even included a few famous guests, such as Clyde Tombaugh, discoverer of Pluto.

Up top, a page from one of Levy's 1960s logbooks.

December 17, 2011 at 04:01 PM | Permalink


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