The AAVSO's archive of times of maxima and minima of long period variables is almost as old as the AAVSO itself, and we are giving these data new life by re-releasing them to the community in electronic form after a long hiatus. Continue Reading
This summer the AAVSO acquired the entire collection of paper variable star observation reports from the Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand (RASNZ). The idea for permanently archiving the paper reports of the RASNZ at AAVSO Headquarters came about through conversations between Arne Henden, VSS Director Tom Richardson, and Grant Christie of the RASNZ.
The collection comprises 12.5 linear feet. The reports have not yet been evaluated, so the total number of observations in the collection is unknown, but certainly it is in the tens of thousands if not in the hundreds of thousands of observations. Continue Reading
Today is a very special day in AAVSO history. October 10, 2010 is our 99th birthday. Although there was no ceremony or parade to mark the occasion, the first published Monthly Report of the American Association of Variable Star Observers appeared in the December 1911 issue of Popular Astronomy, and contained observations from October 10, 1911 to November 10, 1911.
The 365 Days of Astronomy podcast has posted a show today about visualizing epsilon Aurigae. Ryan Wyatt, Director of the Morrison Planetarium at the California Academy of Sciences, was interviewed by Slacker Astronomy. Continue Reading
A distant Cepheid is getting some attention for the first time in decades, thanks in part to some AAVSO observers. Continue Reading
I’m sitting in Tom Smith’s house at Dark Ridge Observatory near Weed, New Mexico, watching the clouds out the window and the cats sleeping on the sofa. The sun breaks through every now and then, but there is a flash flood warning for the rest of the day. Welcome to the Southwestern monsoon! Continue Reading
A new version of Zapper has just been released! Actually, not a lot has changed but I did want to let everyone know that Zapper will no longer display differential magnitudes or unreduced step-magnitudes (which appear as 0.0 magnitude observations in the AAVSO International Database). To get this latest version please go here: http://www.aavso.org/zapper and download it. This page will also describe what Zapper is and how to use it for those of you who have no idea what I am talking about! Continue Reading
Some weeks just fly past you. Friday comes and you wonder, "What happened to Wednesday and Thursday?" This was another one of those weeks.
I arrived in Cambridge late Sunday night and slogged into headquarters Monday morning in what can only be described as a miserable, relentless, pouring rain. The precipitation pounding on the roof of HQ provided the backdrop to numerous meetings, brainstorming sessions, projects and activities. Continue Reading
Astronomers are constantly looking into the past. No matter where you look out into space you are seeing things as they were minutes, hours or millions of years ago. Even at 186,000 miles per second, it takes eight minutes for light to reach us from the Sun. It takes four and a half years for light to reach us from the next nearest star, and millions or billions of years to reach us from other galaxies. So astronomers spend a great deal of time looking into the past.
But astronomers also have to look forward, and make predictions about the future. In order to keep astronomical research pushing at the forefront of our knowledge, astronomers need to predict what new areas of research and technology will help answer the pressing science questions of the next decade, and how much it will cost to build the telescopes, spacecraft and experiments needed to unlock the secrets of our Universe. And since it is impossible to pay for everything, someone has to prioritize which projects will get the biggest bang for the bucks in the coming decade. Continue Reading