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!