I started working at the AAVSO at the beginning of July, as the new administrative assistant. Initially, I was interested in the AAVSO because of the real contributions the organization makes to science, through amateurs and professionals alike. I have never been talented at science, but I do find it fascinating, and the idea that one can be a scientist without having to be "good" at (or interested in) the scholarly aspect of it is a wonderful message that we do not hear nearly often enough. Continue Reading
By now you’ve heard about several of us on the AAVSO staff traveling to various star parties throughout the US and Canada this year as part of our Centennial Celebrations. We’ve been meeting amateur astronomers and spreading the gospel and history of the AAVSO for nearly a year now.
As part of our centennial celebration star party talks I was able to attend the Saskatchewan Summer Star Party at the Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park on the border between Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada. SN 2011fe was discovered during the star party and made for some exciting evenings. Continue Reading
A few weeks ago, we launched the updated version of CHET, our Chart Error Reporting tool. CHET is a simple web application that allows you to submit a report when you find an error in one of our charts. CHET makes it easy for our chart team to keep track of what errors have been reported and whether they've been fixed. It also makes it easy for you to see what the chart team is up to—by searching the CHET database, you can see what errors have been fixed and which ones the chart team is working on. Continue Reading
At the very end of July I had the pleasure of being a guest speaker at the 2011 Table Mountain Star Party.
The AAVSO's 75th anniversary celebration was held during August 6-9, 1986, here in Cambridge--exactly 25 years ago this week!
That thought occurred to me this morning as I walked passed the former Birch Street Headquarters from my bus stop to the present-day Headquarters on Bay State Road.
The weather today is as pleasant as it was for that meeting (though a bit more humid and windy then).
The AAVSO's network of automated telescopes, AAVSOnet, has been a challenging system to set up. From an engineering standpoint, all of the people dealing with hardware (especially Arne Henden, Tom Krajci, Tom Smith, and John Gross) have put in an enormous amount of work to get these systems up and running, and a lot goes on behind the scenes that the average user of AAVSOnet probably doesn't see -- which is in itself a testament to how well the system works. From a software standpoint, a lot has gone on as well. Many of you are probably familiar with Geir Klingenberg's wonderful VPhot site where you can analyze your images. That also took a lot of work to get it to where it is right now, and it's a wonderful tool for the community, amateur and professional alike. Continue Reading
The person with the neatest job at the AAVSO (besides me, of course!) is Dr. Mike Saladyga. He gets to wallow about in the history of our organization on a daily basis. And that, of course, enabled he and Dr. Tom Willams to write a book on our history, which everyone should read! History sometimes bowls me over, especially history that I'm at least parenthetically involved in. Continue Reading
My first evening of the Texas Star Party I ran into my first fellow AAVSOer, Brad Walter. Brad and I had met before in Big Bear a couple years ago, but I didn’t recognize him right away with his safari gear and hat on. As it turned out, Brad was also camped on the middle field just yards from where my telescope was set up. After dinner I was finishing setting up for the night and began packing the tools and cases back into my car when Brad came over and told me I wasn’t done setting up yet. “What do you mean?” I asked him.
“Do you have any more of those spikes?”
“You need to use them and some of that rope you have to tie down your telescope.” Continue Reading