In 1998 I was hired as the AAVSO's "IT person". At the time the AAVSO had a 56K frame relay connection to the Internet (your current smartphone probably has faster access) and as much copper coax cable as ethernet. We were a MSDOS/Windows95/Windows NT network with one CDROM in the entire building that staff had to share. I was a former webmaster with extensive Windows NT experience and almost no UNIX experience. The AAVSO had a Linux box that ran the web, FTP, DNS and e-mail servers. Managing it was contracted out. I was 23-years old with a grand total of 2 years of sysadmin experience under my belt. Continue Reading
Part of a series celebrating 100 years of the AAVSO
The other morning, Doc Kinne, our systems guy, remarked that during the past weeks since breaking the 20M barrier, the AAVSO received over 50,000 variable star observations--or about 25,000 in one week. The remark caused our heads to nod appreciatively for a moment, but then we turned back to our work and thought nothing more of it. It is not that we are blase about it, it's just that our expectations have changed with the times--we expect to receive 20 or 30 thousand observations each week, just as, ten years ago we expected to receive 7 or 8 thousand per week. Continue Reading
Recently, I enjoyed my first visit to Armagh Observatory in the city of Armagh, N. Ireland. Founded and funded in 1789 by Archbishop Richard Robinson, the Observatory represents an interesting mixture of historic and current astronomical research. Continue Reading
I started working at the AAVSO in August 1979. My responsibilities included processing the monthly data and supervising data entry. As Janet Mattei’s assistant, over the years I was assigned a wide variety of tasks, all in the service of the AAVSO and its mission. Continue Reading
In December 2010, the question was asked on aavso-photometry why the Landolt standard stars were not included in VSP. I explained what it would take to get this done and answered that the reason it hadn't been done yet was because it wasn't a staff priority at the moment, but if a volunteer were willing to do some of the heavy lifting I would help get the data into VSP.
My response ended with, "I guess the other way to answer your question is- because you haven't done it yet!"
When I came to the AAVSO in March 2005, they had been dumped on - two big snowfalls in January and February, followed by a couple of near-blizzards in March. However, that year pales in comparison to this winter! Continue Reading
Z Canis Majoris is a young stellar object, one of the "Orion variables". The Orion variable classification got its name because the Orion region is so full of active and recent star formation that many of the young, eruptive variables are found there. Since these stars are eruptive, they're usually classified as Irregular or "I", and since many are also found in regions with nebulae, they also have an "N" for nebular attached. There are a number of subclasses of stars in this category, including perhaps the most famous, "INT" -- T Tauri stars. The specific classification given to Z CMa is "INA", which in plain text is simply "irregular, nebular variable, with early spectral type" (Z CMa has a spectral type of B8 -- slightly hotter than Vega which is an A0).
Some of you may have noticed that we changed the name of the Photometrica software and are wondering what happened. Others are asking, what is Photometrica software? No worries, I have all the answers for you. Continue Reading
Most people familiar with the history of the AAVSO know about our 'French Connection', the long friendship and history of cooperation between the AAVSO and the AFOEV. But we have even longer and deeper ties to our variable star observing friends in Italy. In fact, our 'Italian Connection' goes back to before the AAVSO was born. Continue Reading