For me, bells, astronomy, and variable stars go together.
In college I learned change ringing (ringing mathematical patterns on bells hung in a tower, each person handling the rope controlling one bell) from experienced ringers who included fellow students in astronomy courses who became true comrades when I changed my major to astronomy and we studied and rang together. (Sara Beck (BSJ) was one of my teachers.) Continue Reading
One of the things I love about working at the AAVSO is having the opportunity to work closely with people from around the world and one of the best examples of this cooperation has come with translations of the AAVSO Manual for Visual Observing of Variable Stars.
It all started with a translation of the Manual into French that was published in January 2006. Thanks to a lot of hard work by volunteer Dominique Naillon of Lihons, France this manual was such a success that it inspired others to step forward and volunteer to undertake a translation into their own native language. Continue Reading
Last year, during my trip to the southwest and California to relocate AAVSOnet assets from Tom Krajci’s residence, I stayed with Tom Smith and his wife Donna for two nights. We talked at some length about the status of the Morgan 24” telescope and what it would take to get it commissioned and taking data. It seemed to me that there were several phases of the commissioning process that were going to require extra hands, eyes, muscles and brains for Tom to get them done. I told him I would be happy to come spend a week with him in the spring to help with some of the physical plant work as long as Arne approved the related travel expenses.
In January we began to make plans and set up an itinerary for my trip to New Mexico to help Tom work on the telescope and shelter. Continue Reading
The AAVSO Solar section and AAVSO headquarters are hosting a special guest this week and next, Leif Svalgaard (at center in this photo) of Stanford University/Solar Dynamics Observatory. Leif is here to digitize sunspot records from the original notebooks of AAVSO member Herbert A. Luft (1908-1988), housed in the Thomas R. and Anna Fay Williams Archives. Continue Reading
Compared to the pace of even five years ago, the speed at which the charts and sequences team addresses new and revised sequences is simply astonishing. One of the important factors in this NASCAR paced activity is APASS, the all sky survey nearing completion. Every time a data release is made available the team re-examines its lists of requests and reports to see what else can be fixed or created anew in light of the latest photometric data available. Continue Reading
It is amazing what two-dozen people can get done in a weekend if they are organized, serious and willing to put in the time and effort to make the most of a two and a half day workshop. I opened up the Google Drive page containing all the final drafts of six chapters written at the workshop and edited during this past week and the material is shaping up into what I believe will be a very useful introduction and instruction manual for newcomers to DSLR photometry.
Today was the first full day of the AAVSO DSLR Manual Workshop. The goal is to write a user's guide for people interested in doing DSLR photometry. Most of the participants gathered Thursday night for a two hour meet and greet session at headquarters, but the workshop kicked off Friday morning at 9:00 AM.
One of the "knitting jobs" (as Dorrit Hoffleit used to call "spare time" tasks) I have taken on is to update and upgrade the page of meeting group photos. I'm rescanning some of the photos for better quality, adding missing items, and adding identification keys wherever possible. Some of the 1920s photos were published with keys in Popular Astronomy, and many of the photos made in the 1980s and 1990s were routinely distributed with keys, but many other years need closer attention, and I will be adding these from time to time, as time allows.
Friday, February 15th, will be the 14th anniversary of my first variable star estimate.
R Leo, 9.6, Feb 15, 1999
Over 82,000 observations later, I can still recall a lot of things about my first variable star observation. Continue Reading
In October, just before the 101st Annual Meeting, I was asked to take on a big project: finding every current AAVSO member who has been a member for at least 25 cumulative years. With huge changes in technology and the way this data was stored at HQ in the last 25 years, it ended up being an intricate, meticulous job. And because of the diverse group of members we have, it also uncovered some interesting pieces of information! Continue Reading