David H. Levy Logbooks













In a characteristic act of generosity, Dr. David Levy offered a digital facsimile of his complete personal observational archive to the RASC in 2010, to be made available to all those interested in astronomy and Dr. Levy's stellar career and achievements. The RASC is honoured to be able to make this valuable resource available to the world-wide community. Dr. Roy Bishop, a long-time personal friend and mentor of Dr. Levy's has provided an introduction to this rich resource (David Levy and his Observing Logs), and the RASC Archivist, R.A. Rosenfeld, discusses Dr. Levy's logbooks in their historical context (David Levy’s Logbooks in Context). Dr. Levy's intention is to make this resource freely available to amateur astronomers, historians of astronomy and science, and others everywhere for fair, non-commercial use (see below).

Dr. Levy reflects (in 2011) on the genesis of the project:

"Not long ago, my wife Wendee and I asked our daughter Nanette if she would like to undertake the challenge or digitizing all of my observing archive, which begins in the mid-1950s with the sighting of the Big Dipper, and later of a single meteor, at Twin Lake Camp in Vermont. Session No. 1 records the October 2, 1959 partial solar eclipse visible from near my childhood home in Montreal. Nanette has done a superb job, completing the task over the course of a year.That morning session in 1959 was the first of more than sixteen thousand observing sessions held over more than half a century [the tally now stands at over 20,000 sessions, as of 2017 August 31!]. 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. In my view, observations not recorded are not observations. Observations that are recorded can stay alive indefinitely. May you all enjoy this archive".

This is a novel project for the institutions involved, although astronomical archives of one sort or another have been available in electronic form for some time (http://dc.zah.uni-heidelberg.de/lswscans/res/positions/fullplates/form). The David Levy Logbooks are an evolving project, a "living archive" as it were, for the accumulation of records from Jarnac is ongoing, the older logbooks are still regularly consulted and used by David in his work, and this website itself will be periodically added to, upgraded, and renewed. As well it marks our participation in the healthy trend towards the open availability of the sources for doing science, which has marked some of the best initiatives of the AAVSO, Zooniverse, and some ESA and NASA missions. It is also intended to model one solution to ensuring the longevity and availability of amateur observational archives, an important resource which is under threat (see Preserving the Past: Averting the crisis in Amateur Astronomical History and Heritage on this page). In concert with Dr. Levy we welcome you to the David Levy Logbooks, and invite you to explore this resource.


The images of the David Levy Logbooks are for personal and research use for non-commercial purposes. The image copyright holders are David and Wendee Levy, Jarnac Observatory, while the copyright for all other material is held by the RASC, unless otherwise indicated. Users are allowed to download or print materials from this website for purposes of research, teaching, and private study, without prior permission provided that the materials are properly credited to the copyright holders, David and Wendee Levy, Jarnac Observatory, and the RASC. All other uses such as commercial or scholarly reproduction, redistribution, publication or transmission requires permission from the copyright holders, and fees may be required. Please contact levylogbooks at rasc dot ca to obtain permission, and fees information.

Hard-copy logbooks

In 2004, Dr. Levy offered to donate his hard-copy logbooks to the Linda Hall Library in Kansas City, one of the premier science libraries in the world, with strong holdings in the history of astronomy, and a commitment to ensuring preservation and accessibility. In the fall of 2015 Dr. Levy formally donated his hard-copy logbooks. Information can be found here for those requiring access to the hard-copy originals of the Levy logbooks in the Linda Hall Library History of Science Collection, Rare Books and Special Collections.


This presentation of the electronic facsimiles of the David Levy Logbooks is a joint project of the Jarnac Observatory and the RASC through its History Committee. Thanks are due to Roy Bishop, David and Wendee Levy, Walter MacDonald, R.A. Rosenfeld, and Nanette Vigil.

Last modified: 
Monday, September 25, 2017 - 9:34pm