(If you are interested in becoming a volunteer mentor, please click here.)
The AAVSO has a long tradition of mentoring its new observers. Since the earliest days of the AAVSO, experienced observers have helped new observers by corresponding, answering questions and even providing personal guidance at the telescope.
The Mentor Program is primarily designed to pair new observers with experienced partners who can teach them about observing techniques, tools, methods, etc.; as well as give them advice on target selection and interesting projects they might pursue.
We teach visual and CCD observers how to do everything from printing comparison star charts, to finding the variables in the sky to reporting uncertainty in their CCD observation reports.
Because it is manned entirely by volunteers, and their time and effort are a precious resource, the Mentor Program is a member only benefit. This is primarily to vet newcomers, assuming that they are generally more inclined to stick with it if they are willing to invest in the AAVSO and their hobby by paying annual dues.
Ideally, we will be able to provide you with names, addresses, and phone numbers of active AAVSO observers near you. More often, mentoring happens via email, instant messaging, Skype and telephone calls with remote mentors these days. A simple chat with an experienced observer may provide all the feedback you need to continue progressing as an AAVSO observer.
If you would like to "talk shop" with an experienced variable star observer, contact the AAVSO and we will put you in contact with the mentor program coordinator, Donn Starkey. Just send us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to let us know you are interested in this program.
Links to online resources for beginning observers can be found in the New Observers section of the "For Observers" page.
"...it is a fact that only by the observation of variable stars can the amateur turn his modest equipment to practical use, and further to any great extent the pursuit of knowledge in its application to the noblest of the sciences."
William Tyler Olcott
AAVSO Founding Father, March 1911
If you would like to put your "modest equipment" to use contributing to science, let us teach you how to do that and have a great deal of fun at the same time!
If you are an experienced observer (visual, CCD, DSLR or PEP) and are interested in volunteering your time and expertise to help new observers become proficient, we can certainly use your help! Please contact the Mentor Program coordinator, Donn Starkey, for more information.