The AAVSO 2011 Demographic and Background Survey
Kevin B. Paxson
Received February 16, 2012; revised March 13, 2012; accepted March 13, 2012
In 2011, the AAVSO conducted a survey of 615 people who are or were recently active in the organization. The survey included questions about their demographic background and variable star interests. Data are descriptively analyzed and compared with prior surveys. Results show an organization of very highly educated, largely male amateur and professional astronomers distributed across 108 countries. Participants tend to be loyal, with the average time of involvement in the AAVSO reported as 14 years. Most major demographic factors have not changed much over time. However, the average age of new members is increasing. Also, a significant portion of the respondents report being strictly active in a non-observing capacity, reflecting the growing mission of the organization. Motivations of participants are more aligned with scientific contribution than with that reported by other citizen science projects. This may help explain why a third of all respondents are an author or co-author of a paper in an astronomical journal. Finally, there is some evidence that participation in the AAVSO has a greater impact on the respondents’ view of their role in astronomy compared to that expected through increasing amateur astronomy experience alone.