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Elementary analysis resources

Matthew Templeton's picture
Matthew Templeton
Joined: 2010-03-12


One of the things that I think we could use here is a list of things that people might find useful when doing analysis of any sort.  I decided to start a thread on it and encourage people to add suggestions.  If we get a really comprehensive list, we can create a more centralized webpage with the information.

I think I'll start not with information about analysis techniques, but about how to find out things about a star or data set that you're interested in analyzing.  I use a lot of resources on a regular basis, but I'm not sure whether they're generally known about.

Probably your first place to stop is VSX itself, since it's very comprehensive and there are a lot of people working very hard to make it even more so.  Remember you can do both name and RA/Dec searches, so you can find fairly quickly what's known or not known about an object.  The URL is

There are also a number of academic and professional sites that are really helpful, with the big five for me being:

  • ADS, for general literature searches
  •, for (some) information about what's been published recently
  • Simbad, for literature on specific stars or other objects
  • VizieR, for data searches on objects and fields, and
  • Skyview, for quick, multiwavelength views of fields and coordinates

There are a number of different phrasings, but there's a good humorous saying to the effect of "a month at the telescope can save you an hour in the library".  It's always fun to observe, and it's also fun to look at data, but one of the best ways to start a data analysis project is to learn what's already known about the objects you're looking at.  There are a lot of data analysis tasks that can be done very quickly (like running a Fourier transform in VStar), but be aware the body of existing literature and information for some stars is extremely large.  It's good to know what previous work has and hasn't said before you start a really comprehensive analysis program.

Feel free to start adding ideas and other useful sites that you've encountered.


[edited, changed "VPhot" to "VStar"]

more intro resources
Aaron Price's picture
Aaron Price
Joined: 2010-05-07

Also, the Data Analysis web page has a introductory resources for the analysis side of things:

Adding to Matt and Aaron's
David Benn's picture
David Benn
Joined: 2010-07-29

Adding to Matt and Aaron's lists:

  • The AAVSO in Print is a source of information about literature derived from AAVSO-data/resources. I learned about this from...
  • CHOICE: Variable Star Classification and Light Curves, a worthwhile course to begin thinking systematicaly about variable star types and light curves.
  • Grant Foster's book: Analyzing Light Curves: a Practical Guide.


  • I like the "... a month at the telescope..." quote. It reminds me of this one (Thomas Sowell):

It takes considerable knowledge just to realise the extent of your own ignorance.

  • You may have meant "... like running a Fourier transform in VStar" above? :P


VPhot != VStar
Matthew Templeton's picture
Matthew Templeton
Joined: 2010-03-12


Oops, yes, I've had VPhot on my mind recently with the CCD Photometry course.  Post is edited -- thanks for the catch!


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