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CHOICE in Astronomy online courses

Aaron Price's picture
Aaron Price
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The AAVSO has recently launched a new initiative called the Carolyn Hurless Online Institute for Continuing Education in Astronomy (CHOICE in Astronomy). The goal of the project is to provide informal, online short courses on a variety of topics related to variable star astronomy. We plan course topics to run the gamut from introductory to very advanced.

The first course offered, Developing a Visual Variable Star Observing Program, is a great course for someone very new to variable star observing. It requires some basic background in amateur astronomy but no background in variable stars. This course is designed to aid the visual observer in the selection of variable stars appropriate for their equipment, experience, observing location and other criteria. The course concentrates on guiding observers toward stars for which visual data holds the most promise for continued contributions to science. Participants also learn how to use some of our web site's planning tools.

We are planning to run about 6-12 classes in the next year, depending upon interest. Those who finish a course get a certificate, a note on the user profile page describing their "certification" and future data contributed to the AAVSO International Database will include a flag that describes which courses they have completed.

Also, AAVSO staff will be available in the chat room on Monday, February 6 from 3-4pm and 9-10pm eastern time to answer questions about CHOICE. Feel free to stop in and ask anything on your mind.

And feel free to post any questions and comments to this forum!

A Great Idea
BMI Michael's picture
BMI Michael
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Offering these courses is a great idea.  I hope there is a lot of demand for them.  I plan to take as many as I can.  Thanks for organizing them.

quick update
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Aaron Price
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This is just a quick update. The classes are filling up quickly. We are limiting them to around 15 students per cohort. However, if a class fills up we will maintain a wait list for the next course. When that course is announced, the wait list will get an e-mail before we publicly advertise it on our web site so they will have a chance to register first. We intend to run classes multiple times - hopefully until demand is filled. And we don't want to wait too long between classes (1-2 months?). So if a course fills up before you can register, don't sweat. You'll get another opportunity soon.

pay the registration fee
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barghamadi
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Joined: 2010-12-27

Hi. Thanks for your new update and your courses. I am from Iran and it is not possible for me to pay the cost of course, I don't have any credit card, could you please tell me how I can pay the cost. I am intrested in participating in these coureses. Thank again.

Hadi Barghamadi Registration Fee
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BMI Michael
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Hadi Barghamadi,


I do not know if the AAVSO already has a method to help foreigners with payments.  If they don't, then email me and I'll pay for your courses with my credit card.  michaelbrewster77@gmail.com

Hi, barghamadi. We'll talk it
Aaron Price's picture
Aaron Price
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Hi, barghamadi. We'll talk it over and send you a private message/e-mail with a solution in a few days.

Times in notices
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nlx
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Hi Aaron,

Thanks for running these courses - there is always something you can learn and do better.

When you give time for the chat rooms, could you also give UT? Helps for overseas people.

Thanks, Peter

Study hours required to complete CHOICE VVSO Program
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daveastro
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Hi,

I'm seriously considering registering for the course. Any estimates for the number of hours required to complete the course?

Thanks,

Dave

CHOICE Course Requirements
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SXN
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For these two courses there is a fair amount of reading and participation in discussions. I'd say for the visual course an hour a day is probably enough, so maybe 20 hours. The light curve course has a lot more reading and you need to submit a report on a journal paper along with the quizzes and final exam. Maybe 40 hours is more realistic to really get the most out of it.

Thanks. I will sign up. By
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daveastro
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Thanks. I will sign up. By the way I think this is a great idea that the AAVSO is offering.

 

Still time to sign up for Developing A Visual Observing Program
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SXN
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There are still several spots open in the upcoming CHOICE course for visual observers. The class is called "Developing A Visual Observing Program" and it offers a chance for you to explore the reasons behind selecting specific targets to observe, based on your instrumentation, site conditions, science objectives, etc. If you are just starting out, this class could be the thing that helps you put it all together.

Even experienced observers have benefitted from taking the class, as it makes you evaluate the stars in your program and develop a list of variable stars that you can enjoy observing for years while making a contribution to science. Maybe it's time to whittle down your list of stars, or maybe it's time to stretch out and try some new things.

The thing that doesn't get advertised enough about this course is the fact it is a lot of _fun_. For four weeks you get to discuss visual observing and share your experiences as well as learn about your fellow AAVSO observers and their stories. It's like going to a star party or an AAVSO meeting without the time and expense of travel! Class begins Monday, August 20, so there is not much time left to register. Head on over to theAAVSO Store and sign up today!

http://www.aavso.org/aavso-online-store

Do you have the schedule for
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WWAA
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Do you have the schedule for when these courses will be offered again?

I'm not new to astronomy (albeit very much a casual amateur) but I'm fairly new to variable star astronomy.  My "equipment" is a 10" Orion dob with no electronic equipment.  I'm actually more interested in using the robotic scopes and data processing than attempting to utilize my own equipment (or eyeballs).

Thus I'm more interested in the Light Curves course.

However, I couldn't find a way to sign up for it - it's not listed on your online store page.

More importantly, do you think it would be too overwhelming just starting out?  I know that may be difficult for you to judge not knowing my current knowledge or background.  It didn't list any preqreqs so can I assume the material doesn't start with too many expectations of prior knowledge?


Thanks!

Wayne Westlake

Phoenix, AZ

Future CHOICE Courses
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SXN
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Hi Wayne,

The schedule for future CHOICE courses has not been determined yet. As soon as it is we will make an announcement and make them available to sign up for as the time approaches.

The current light curves and variable star types class is full. That is why it is not available in the AAVSO store to sign up for. There are still a couple spots left for the developing a visual program course if anyone wants to sign up today or tomorrow.

Mike

Schedule...?
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phil_evans
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Just letting you know that I'm waiting for the schedule for the 2013 classes.  I'm eager to see what you come up with!

CHOICE Courses 2013
SXN's picture
SXN
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In January 2013, we will be offering again by popular demand, Variable Star Types and Light Curves. 

This course is an overview of the types of variable stars most commonly observed by AAVSO observers. We discuss the physical processes behind what makes each type variable and how this is demonstrated in their light curves. Variable star names and nomenclature are placed in a historical context to aid in understanding today’s classification scheme. There are no pre-requisites for this course, but there is quite a bit of reading, and discussion, so be prepared to devote at least an hour a day to this course.

We will also offer CCD Image Calibration again in 2013.

This course describes how to and why we need to calibrate photometric images. It will cover techniques for bias, dark, and flat fielding. A wide variety of user scenarios will be covered including tips for calibrating in poor observing conditions, with older equipment, different software types, etc. The content of the course will be based on chapters of Arne Henden's new book on CCD photometry. Access to a CCD camera and your own FITS images is required (AAVSOnet images will suffice). This is an ideal course for new CCD observers.

In March 2013, we plan to offer two new courses designed around a thoroughly updated AAVSO Visual Observing Manual and a newly revised AAVSO CCD Observing Manual. 

Visual Observing Basics will use the AAVSO Visual Observing Manual as its primary text. We will cover variable stars, basic equipment, how to make observations and submit data, plotting VSO charts, planning an observing session and many other topics. This course is highly recommended for anyone just starting out in visual VSOing.

CCD Observing Basics will utilize the AAVSO CCD Observing Manual as its primary text. We will cover basic equipment, CCD techniques and skills, submitting data, using VSO charts and photometry tables, planning an observing session and many other topics. This course is highly recommended for anyone just starting out in CCD photometry.

We hope to roll out several other new courses in 2013, including Variable Stars and Stellar Evolution, Advanced Techniques for Visual Observers, and courses on how to use our VSTAR and VPHOT software packages for data and image analysis. We will try to offer new and existing courses every other month throughout the year. 

You can read more about CHOICE on the CHOICE Home Page at http://www.aavso.org/choice-astronomy

 

 

Early 2013 Courses?
phil_evans's picture
phil_evans
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Mike,

Since December 2012 is only a couple of days away, is there any idea when registration will start for the early 2013 courses?  I would suspect that registration should come up here pretty quick.  With Christmas just around the next corner, it would be nice to know how to budget for the next courses.  I definately down't want to miss the CCD Calibration course and the new CCD Observing Basics course.  Be sure to save a spot for me in each!


Thanks, Phil

Two CHOICE courses open for enrollment!
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SXN
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Two CHOICE classes will begin January 21 and run through February 15, 2013. 

You can sign up for one or both of them in the AAVSO online store.
They are $30 and only available to AAVSO members in good standing.

Back by popular demand, Variable Star Types and Light Curves. 

This course is an overview of the types of variable stars most commonly observed by AAVSO observers. We discuss the physical processes behind what makes each type variable and how this is demonstrated in their light curves. Variable star names and nomenclature are placed in a historical context to aid in understanding today’s classification scheme. There are no pre-requisites for this course, but there is quite a bit of reading, and discussion, so be prepared to devote at least an hour a day to this course.

We are also offering CCD Image Calibration.

This course describes how to and why we need to calibrate photometric images. It will cover techniques for bias, dark, and flat fielding. A wide variety of user scenarios will be covered including tips for calibrating in poor observing conditions, with older equipment, different software types, etc. The content of the course will be based on chapters of Arne Henden's new book on CCD photometry. Access to a CCD camera and your own FITS images is required (AAVSOnet images will suffice). This is an ideal course for new CCD observers.

New courses are being developed in conjunction with the development of new manuals for visual observing, CCD observing, using VPHOT and the VStar analysis software, as well as other courses on variable star science and advanced observing techniques. We will announce more of the 2013 schedule as courses come online. 

Just Signed up for two CHOICE courses
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bhattachsh
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I was wondering whether assignment and reading links will be mailed to my email, or I do need to log in to this site in order to access them.

New CHOICE registrations
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SXN
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Dear Shouvik,

I have granted you permission to access the CHOICE forums. Thank you for signing up. I hope you find them instructive and useful.

Best Wishes,
Mike Simonsen

New CHOICE courses now open for registration!
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RebeccaTurner
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Two new CHOICE courses will run from March 18 through April 12, 2013.

You can register for either (or both!) of them in the AAVSO online store.  Registration is $30 and only available to AAVSO members.

Course Descriptions

Visual Observing Basics
This course will use the newly revised AAVSO Visual Observing Manual as its primary text. We will cover variable stars, basic equipment, how to make observations and submit data, plotting VSO charts, planning an observing session and many other topics. This course is highly recommended for anyone just starting out in visual VSOing.

CCD Photometry, Part One
The AAVSO is rebuilding its CCD Observing Manual from the ground up, including a change of title: the Guide to CCD Photometry.  This semester we're teaching the introductory material for the guide to explain why you do photometry, as well as material on CCD calibration procedures to take your raw images and ready them for photometry.

This course will cover most of the technical material in "CCD Image Calibration".  Members who have successfully taken the Image Calibration course will be ready for Part Two of this course to be offered later this year.

CCD photometry course
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Allan Hollander
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Would the CCD photometry course be suitable for a visual observer who has no CCD camera but is considering acquiring the equipment to do basic CCD photometry? Would you supply sample images to practice image processing on?

Thanks, Allan

 

Advanced Photometry
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marlin
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For two years I have been reporting to AAVSO and CBA.  I fee as though I have the basics in hand.  Can I jump ahead to the advanced photometry class?  I am busy with an Astrophysics class through Caltech and I will start a quantum class at the end of the month. Taking a class as a review would pull from a tough math type class.

Marlin Costello

CCD Image Calibration
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Ed Wiley_WEY
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Rebecca: I took the CCD Image Calibration course in 2012. Am I correct to assume that I can skip this course and take Part II when offered? Or is there something different about this course?

Thanks, Ed

CCD Photometry course
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Matthew Templeton
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Hi,

To answer the last two questions in one post:

1) Re: advanced photometry -- The advanced photometry course hasn't been written yet, and is not yet being offered.  The CHOICE program as a whole is new and we are still developing courses for it, and the advanced photometry isn't at the point where we're ready to offer it.


2) Re: CCD Calibration -- yes, if you've taken CCD Calibration, you do not need this course.  There may be a little more background in this course, but in terms of practical application, the differences will be minor.

CCD Photometry course
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Ed Wiley_WEY
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Thanks Matthew,

Ed

CCD Photometry, Part 1
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WDZ
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Hello.

Will I need to have my own CCD/telescope equipment to take this class?

equipment & software
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Matthew Templeton
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Don, & Allan too,

It is designed for people who have their own equipment and software.  It would be possible to use images from AAVSOnet for everything, but having access to data reduction software will really be helpful.  Software like DS9 can do some things with images, but not quite everything.  I don't think you'd get as much from the course without being able to work with images.

Matthew

CHOICE Course for New Visual Observers
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SXN
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Dear New Member/Observers,

AAVSO is offering a new CHOICE course for beginning visual observers,
called Visual Observing Basics. This course will use the AAVSO Visual
Observing Manual as its primary text. We will cover variable stars,
basic equipment, how to make observations and submit data, plotting
VSO charts, planning an observing session and many other topics. This
course is highly recommended for anyone just starting out in visual
VSOing.

For more information on CHOICE see http://www.aavso.org/choice-astronomy.

The course is scheduled to begin March 18 and there are still places
in the class.
The cost of the course is $30.00 US.
You can sign up at http://www.aavso.org/aavso-online-store

To successfully complete this section of the CHOICE in Astronomy,
Visual Observing Certification you must submit all four quizzes on
time, participate in discussions and submit two observations within
0.2 magnitudes of the median for the current AAVSO light curve of your
stars. This means you will need to be a registered user of the AAVSO
website and you must be assigned an AAVSO observer code. Instructions
for obtaining those will be provided.

You will probably need to spend an hour a day reading and perhaps
another 30 minutes to an hour reading and posting comments to the
discussion forum. You also need to make a couple observations and have
them evaluated. There is no time like now to learn how to do this!

If you have taken a visual observing CHOICE course before, you know
how much fun it can be to learn and share the experience with your
fellow AAVSO member observers. If you haven't tried this before, I'm
certain you will feel it is worth far more than you're paying and it
will be just one of many classes you will decide to take to make your
observing more exciting, interesting and fun.

I hope you decide to join us.

See you in the forum,
Mike

AAVSO 49 Bay State Rd. Cambridge, MA 02138 aavso@aavso.org 617-354-0484