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About VSA

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What is VSA?

Variable Star Astronomy (VSA) is the web version of Hands-On Astrophysics. Every chapter has been converted to adobe pdf and word doc formats so that you can download them directly from this website free-of-charge.

Variable Star Astronomy is an AAVSO educational project developed with funds from the National Science Foundation. It is a flexible set of hands-on educational materials, activities, and investigations, based on the AAVSO's unique electronic database of variable star measurements. Students will be able to experience the excitement of doing real science with real data—making new measurements and new discoveries. By carrying out all aspects of the research process, they can develop and integrate skills in science, math, computing, and other areas.

Variable Star Astronomy will help students acquire fundamental science skills and develop an understanding of basic astronomy concepts; it will provide interdisciplinary connections, and take students through the whole scientific process while working with real data. This curriculum also will inform students about variable stars and their importance to the professional astronomical community, and give them the necessary information and skills to study variable star behavior or to become amateur variable star observers.

Students learn the necessary skills to make observations, analyze their data with graphing and statistical techniques, make predictions, and compare predicted and observational values, as well as learn how to develop sophisticated mathematical models. Students will learn about variable stars by using the activities, software, and charts available online. Students will be able to access the AAVSO database, and share their investigations and observations.

The study of variable stars is particularly suited to science, math, and computer education. Students can observe variable stars, and analyze the brightness changes in the stars they observe by using the database of 16,867,757 observations and access to computer programs. Except for a few exercises in skill development, there are no "right" answers in this curriculum. The data obtained and the results of the analysis of that data by students is the "right" answer. The amount of data and the mathematical refinement techniques will give reasonably accurate results. Students will understand that their observations can be reliable, and that their data can be useful enough to be used by professional astronomers.

Who is VSA for?

Variable Star Astronomy is a curriculum that benefits ANYONE who is interested in learning more about variable stars. The content is useful in astronomy, physical science, mathematics, computer classes, independent projects, and has interdisciplinary connections that make it appropriate for history and English classes. The material is appropriate for middle school through introductory college level classes, depending upon the chapters selected. The curriculum is self-contained: no prior knowledge of astronomy, variable star astronomy, or physics is necessary. Some chapters could be adapted for younger audiences at the elementary school level while others could even benefit most amateur astronomers. If you have an interest in learning more about variable stars, VSA is definitely for you.

May I Use These Materials?

Copyright 1997/2008

by The American Association of Variable Star Observers

May be reproduced for non-commercial educational use.

AAVSO Variable Star Astronomy was prepared with the support of the
National Science Foundation, Grant No. ESI-9154091.

ISBN: 1-878174-25-8

Many Thanks To...

Variable Star Astronomy is an educational program created by

The American Association of Variable Star Observers

funded in part by

The National Science Foundation

Project Co-Directors:
Janet Akyüz Mattei
The American Association of Variable Star Observers

John R. Percy
Erindale Campus, University of Toronto

Curriculum Author:
Donna L. Young
Lead Educator: Chandra EPO/SAO/NASA

AAVSO 49 Bay State Rd. Cambridge, MA 02138 617-354-0484