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
Last month the AAVSO co-hosted its Spring Meeting with the American Astronomical Society in downtown Boston. I hope those of you who attended found it as much fun as I did. I also hope you've had a chance to rest up as well -- there was a lot happening at this meeting! We had our own activities from Saturday through Monday, and had a full slate of fun and interesting AAS sessions to attend throughout the rest of the week as well. There was plenty of great science throughout the week, and with this being one of the best-attended Summer AAS meetings in recent history there were plenty of things to see and people to talk to. Continue Reading
This last month was my first American Astronomical Society meeting. While the attendance at the Boston AAS Summer Meeting was listed as rather large, the AAS Summer meetings are the smaller of the two annual AAS Meetings (Winter, Summer).
I'm sure you will hear more about it from others, but from my point of view, the 100th Spring meeting of the AAVSO held jointly with the AAS was an excellent opportunity to distribute copies of Dorrit Hoffleit's wonderful autobiography, Misfortunes as Blessings in Disguise.
When this book was published in 2002, thanks to Dorrit's generosity, we printed many more copies than we could sell. Keeping boxes of books squirreled away in our storeroom at HQ just didn't make any sense—we wanted to get the books out to people who might enjoy them (Donna Young has distributed many to teachers at her workshops), but mailing it out to libraries around the country was prohibitively expensive.
So what to do? Continue Reading
Since the very beginning, AAVSO observers have been assigned observer codes. These letter combinations are used to identify the individuals who have submitted data to the database for a number of reasons. For better or worse, once you have been assigned an observer code it is yours forever.
I've spent some time recently preparing a presentation about the AAVSO Centennial for a number of amateur meetings. This angle on the centennial covers how changes in professional astronomy over the last 100 years have been reflected in the amateur community - using the history of VSO in the AAVSO as the narrative. Continue Reading
Thanks to volunteer data miner/digitizer and AAVSO member Bob Stine of Newbury Park, California, the AAVSO International Database is richer by over 3,200 historical observations of Nova Per Nr. 2 (1901) = GK Per.
The improvement to the accessible light curve for this star is both dramatic and vital, as the data which Bob digitized covers the 18 months following the outburst--from February 18, 1901 to August 8, 1902--as can be seen in the light curve shown here.