Matthew Templeton's blog
The AAVSO Solar section and AAVSO headquarters are hosting a special guest this week and next, Leif Svalgaard (at center in this photo) of Stanford University/Solar Dynamics Observatory. Leif is here to digitize sunspot records from the original notebooks of AAVSO member Herbert A. Luft (1908-1988), housed in the Thomas R. and Anna Fay Williams Archives. Continue Reading
While doing some database checking today, I got a very interesting figure: between November 28, 2011 and November 28, 2012 (today, as I write this), 1.8 million observations were submitted to the AAVSO. One point eight million. It's mind-boggling. Continue Reading
At the moment, I'm taking a short break from doing some programming and beta testing for our latest AAVSOnet telescope to come online, Bright Star Monitor - South. This is a twin of the Bright Star Monitor that ran in New Mexico for the past few years, but installed on the opposite side of the world. BSM-South is hosted by Peter Nelson (NLX) a few dozen miles east of Melbourne, Australia, and has been operating in a "hands-on" capacity for several months now. Continue Reading
One of many hats that I wear at the AAVSO is to act as good steward to the AAVSO International Database, one of the AAVSO's greatest assets. Part of the work of stewardship is not just to collect and archive data but to encourage the collection and use of "good data". I don't know of a standard definition of "good data" but I'll take a stab at one: good data is accurate information representing physical reality that enables researchers to productively create and test new and better models for the behavior of the world. More succinctly, good data is that which is useful for doing good science. Continue Reading
I set aside a sizable fraction of my time per day for about a week in late January and early February to catch up on some long-term projects, especially on many digitization projects undertaken by volunteers for the AAVSO. There's been quite a haul of archival data over the past several months, and we're getting close to making it all available to the community via the AID. Importantly, we've begun implementing our new tracking fields in the AAVSO International Database that cover digitized archival data, providing the user with the identity of
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
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
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).
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
We've got some good news from Dr. Keith Noll of the Hubble Heritage Project this week. STScI have been following the AAVSO observations of M31_V1 very closely for the past several months, and they have now tentatively scheduled their sequence of observations based on the AAVSO-derived ephemeris!
HST will be observing M31 on December 16-17, 20-21, and 29-30, and then on January 6-7. It is believed the Hubble Heritage press release will then be some time in February or March of 2011. Continue Reading