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An Introduction and some questions (newbie alert!)

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bkl's picture
An Introduction and some questions (newbie alert!)


An introduction then some questions for the group as I get started with the process of submitting spectra to the AAVSO.  Some of you, I am sure, know me, as I have been a longtime member of the AAVSO. It was this very day in 1986 that I submitted my first observations, visual, of V BOO and U HER!  I now primarily use CCD and occasionally PEP for my photometry. I teach at a school with a very nice observatory for which I am the director: Phillips Exeter Academy in southern New Hampshire.


About 10 years ago, we invested in a Shelyak eShel spectrograph which we have been using on a 10” RC scope. We have just completed installation of a 0.7m scope with two focal ports, one for CCD and the other for the fiber fed Echelle spectrograph. I also made the transition from using the older AudLA software to using Shelyak’s new Demetre software. It’s still in beta for the eShel spectrograph, but the results are quite nice. I have attached two FITS files, both in the H-alpha region, one for Regulus the other Arcturus to give a sense [my zip file upload failed here, so I provide a DropBox link below].

I am very excited that the AAVSO has moved forward with a spectroscopy group! So, I’d like to learn all I can to be beneficial to those needing the spectra. Some questions:

Thank you all. I look forward to this!

John Blackwell (BKL)

Welcome to AVSpec!

Hello John,

Welcome to AVSpec. First I should point you to the proper documentation:

Here you will find the bare minimum for submitting your first spectrum as well as manuals at the bottom of the page which will give you more specific information. This should answer most of the questions you have, but I'll try to address them below as well so you don't have to search. 

" I notice that there are a lot of program stars listed on the page at:  Not all of those are listed on the spectra submission page   Is there a definitive list of stars which I am able/allowed to submit data for?"

AVSpec works in much the same way as as regular submission to the AID through webobs. If the star is in VSX and has an AUID then it can be submitted. The reason why you see such a small list on your first submission is that these are "standard stars". The spectra listed here should presumably be relatively constant. That way we can review the spectrum against an existing spectrum and make sure that everything seems right. Once this is done and has been approved, you can submit on any star you would like. (Some standard stars also happen to be actual variable stars, and there are many reasons for this. It causes confusion here, but don't worry about it for now.)


"Are the attached FITS files examples of what would be acceptable for submission? [well,the attachments failed to attach. Sorry. Here's a DropBox link to them instead."

The full format and what is required is listed in the Technical guide in the link above. I did look at your header though and most of the keywords look fine, but they aren't filled in correctly:
OBJNAME should be the name of the target e.g. "Arcturus". 
BSS_SITE (equivalent to AAV_SITE)  and BSS_INST (equivalent to AAV_INST) must match the name of the SITE and Equipment packages that you have listed in the site and equipment app here:

(sidenote that trips people up. For your spectrograph equipment package "Observing Type" must be listed as spec). 

"Is anyone else out here using similar software/hardware to our installation? It would be good to know who I can reach out to with issues/questions/worries. "

Unfortunately I can't answer this, but if you run into anymore issues please feel free to ask. I can help you through any submission related issues, but reduction will likely have to come from someone else.

Hope this helps.

Bert Pablo
Staff Astronomer, AAVSO



bkl's picture
Bert - thank you! This is the

Bert - thank you! This is the information I was looking for. Much appreciated. 

I'll check to see why the FITS entries are not being filled-in properly - at worst, I can manually enter them and go from there.  Once we have some more clear nights, I'll grab some standard star spectra and send it into the system for approval.


bkl's picture
Uploaded a trial

Bert, et al,

I just uploaded a spectrum of eps Vir for your perusal and, hopefully, approval. Let's see if I got everything right in there. I had to change the Observer header to my initials... then found that I could use an alias. AOK by me either way.  Hopefully I will pass the audition ;-)



stellakafka's picture

Hello John,

Great spectrum; it is approved. Welcome to AVSpec :)

Best wishes - clear skies,



bkl's picture

So glad that worked. Thanks for checking it out and giving me approval. Now to create an observing list. So many stars, so little time.

Clear skies,


AAVSO Spectroscopy target stars

The AAVSO has a "Target Tool" that provides a host targets for a number of star types and observation types.  In using the tool for selecting Spectrosopy targets I note that there are NO spectro targets flagged from RA 7:30 to RA18:30, nearly 50% of the sky ???

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