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
Our Assistant Director, Aaron Price, has had a heck of a year!
Early in 2010, he was made Assistant Director of the AAVSO. Later that year we celebrated his defending his Ph.D. But something more unusual, at least for an AAVSO staffer, was on the horizon.
It would seem to an outside observer, perhaps, that AAVSO staffers are more committed to their work than most. While most of us (but not all) are married, the vast majority of us have no children now. With the single exception of Gloria, those that do have children have grown children. Continue Reading
We received some sad news at the AAVSO ten days ago regarding one of the participants in the AAVSO's project to digitize data from the Harvard Annals. Daniel Rupp wrote me to let me know that his son, Andrew Rupp, passed away on January 7, 2011. Along with this news, Mr. Rupp passed along the spreadsheets that Andrew had in progress. All told, Andrew digitized more than 2700 observations for 10 different Mira variables, extending our light curves for these stars backwards in time by nearly eleven years. Continue Reading
There is a large radio tower a few hundred feet southeast from the current AAVSO HQ. It is the transmitter for a local AM oldies radio station. Interestingly, it is in the middle of/on top of a self-storage facility. It is literally across the street from the previous AAVSO HQ on Birch St. The radio tower has been the source of both entertainment and frustration for staff over the years - sometimes both at the same time. Continue Reading
Saturday, 4 December, saw the AAVSO host part of the Boston meeting of the International Occultation Timing Association. What began as a meeting where I'd set up the projector for folks to use the next day grew into a meeting that included video, audio, and collaborative internet transmissions to 35 people at one point around the world, including a presentation from an IOTA member in Australia! Continue Reading
A couple of days ago our Administrative Assistant, Ginny, sent an email to everyone here at HQ commenting on the Holiday Cards that the AAVSO Staff has been sent this year. She mentioned that they were displayed near her desk on the first floor.
This is one of the nice things, in my mind, in working in a small office, particularly AAVSO HQ. In my last job in central NY I worked for a company that ballooned in a couple of years from 225-400 people. We got Holiday cards, sure, but most of them were sent to the company President. Here at the AAVSO, the cards we get are for the staff as a whole, and being included in that is a nice feeling. Continue Reading
It's been another year of incredible activity from the charts and sequences team. Together they have revised or created hundreds of new sequences for AAVSO charts in the past twelve months. I can't tell you enough about how much work these guys do for the AAVSO. I can tell you a little about who they are. Continue Reading