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CCD Views #324

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            THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF VARIABLE STAR OBSERVERS            
                 25 Birch Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA
                 Tel. 617-354-0484       Fax 617-354-0665
                          http://www.aavso.org
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                           C C D   V I E W S   #324
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                               August 17, 2004

Table of Contents
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 1. Introduction
 2. Var Her 04 Update
 3. BZ UMa Update
 4. Bright Star Photometry
 5. SWIFT Status & GRB Afterglow Activity Report
 6. Zen of IRAF
 7. Thanks to Special Edition Observers
 8. Online List of AAVSO CCD Charts
 9. CCD Points

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 1. INTRODUCTION

 The AAVSO-Photometry Discussion Group has really come into its own the
last two months. In July it was a great tool for coordination of the Var
Her 04 campaign and posting of preliminary results and daily updates. In
August it has been a great place for discussion of photometric issues
ranging from error reporting to transformation coefficients.
 Please consider joining the AAVSO-photometry Discussion Group. If
you are worried about being deluged with e-mails then choose the Daily
Digest version, which sends you one e-mail per day with all the posts
included in it. Or you can avoid subscribing and just read the discussion
group via our online archives. Just remember to come back every few days
to stay up on the latest and greatest in variable star photometry.
Subscription info and archive viewing is available at this URL:
        http://www.aavso.org/mailman/listinfo/aavso-photometry

 Aaron Price (PAH), AAVSO HQ
 Gary Walker (WGR), CCD Committee Chairperson
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 2. VAR HER 04 UPDATE
 
 Var Her 04 seems to be happily hovering around V=16-16.5. 

  AUG 15.2033 16.6   JM     CCDV
  AUG 14.8990 16.20  RZD    CCD    Err: 0.05
  AUG 12.3298 16.11  JM     CCDV 
  AUG 12.2948 17.79  HQA    CCDI   Err: 0.071
  AUG 12.2803 16.59  HQA    CCDV   Err: 0.106
  AUG 12.2589 16.77  HQA    CCDB   Err: 0.047
  AUG 10.2038 16.5   JM     CCDV    
  AUG 10.0672 15.96  RSE    CCDV   Err: 0.162 Transformed
  AUG 10.0517 16.21  BKL    CCDV   Err: 0.0462                        
  AUG 08.3015 16.25  CTX    CCDV   Err: .009                                         
  AUG 06.1215 15.97  CDV    CCD    
  AUG 05.1965 16.22  HDF    CCDV   Err 0.07

   JM  Robert James      HDF  Dennis Hohman
  CTX  Tim Crawford      BKL  John Blackwell 
  HQA  Arne A. Henden    RSE  Steve Robinson
  RZD  Diego Rodriguez

 Our intensive campaign in June and July has been most interesting and
rewarding. Those who did not follow the action on the photometry
discussion group can go here for a link to the archives and the raw data:
         http://www.aavso.org/news/varher.shtml
 
 At the AAVSO Spring Meeting in Berkely I gave a short talk on both BZ UMa
and Var Her 04 detailing our observing strategies and a quick look at
analysis of the results. It is available online at:
 
http://www.aavso.org/aavso/meetings/spring04present/bzvarher.pdf

 We received a little over 7,500 CCD measurements of Var Her 04 from 23
observers over 16 days.  The light curve is characterized by a steady
decline of 0.017 magnitudes per day until June 24.5 .  An inflection in
the light curve gives rise to a gentle hump that spans 0.1 magnitudes over
2 days. Then the light curve resumes a slow decline until June 30.053 when
a rapid decline began. The decline was terminated after 0.5062 days and a
drop in ~1.1 magnitudes. The star remained steady at ~V=16 through the end
of observations on July 16.237.
 *Very* preliminary analysis at this point is supporting the UGSU type. 
However, there are some questions that need to be answered before we are
sure. There are also lots of complicating factors such as a companion ~1
arc second away which may be variable in itself. It is still possible that 
this is a unique class of CV and could end up being one of the oldest CV 
systems detected. We are investigating all these possibilities.
 A brief report of your observations was issued as IAUC #8734. We have
assembled a team to work on a paper for this object. We hope to have
something prepared and submitted by October, which of course means it
will likely be after that! Those who contributed significant observations
will be listed as co-authors and were e-mailed more details last week.
 We will continue making public updates via CCD Views and the Discussion
Group.

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 3. BZ UMA UPDATE

 We haven't forgotten our friend in the belly of the great bear. BZ UMa
has proven to be very difficult beast to tame. Our data is noisy because
it was faint and, lets face it, for many of us this was our first attempt
at high speed, faint photometry.  Careful analysis of the data reveals the
orbital period and a 0.033d period that comes and goes in the light curve,
but is not consistent (a wavelet plot of this can be seen in the
PowerPoint presentation listed in the previous article). Other than that,
the light curve is dominated by heavy flickering and the power spectrum
dominated by its associated red noise. What we really need is X-Ray
observations to determine the spin period. There are a number of
opportunities for just that in the coming months and we are pursuing them.
We'll keep you updated via CCD Views and the coauthors via e-mail updates.


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 4. BRIGHT STAR PHOTOMETRY

 [Thanks to Arne Henden for much of the advice below.]

 A good discussion of short exposure photometry occured on the
AAVSO_Photometry Discussion Group in July. It can be read via the archives
here:  
http://mira.aavso.org/pipermail/aavso-photometry/2004-July/subject.html

 As previously announced, the AAVSO is in the process of creating a
program to detect exoplanet transits. The project will involve the
monitoring of many bright stars with known planets but of unknown
inclination (thus we're not sure if they transit or not). With all this
emphasis on faint objects recently we wanted to summarize the results of
this discussion of bright objects.

 There are two main problems with high-precision short-exposure photometry
(SEP from here on out).  First, bright sources tend to get overexposed,
especially if any nearby comparison star is fainter than the target.
Antiblooming gate (ABG) CCDs typically saturate at about 50% of their
full well depth, and many non-ABG chips saturate before the limit of
their Analog/Digital Converters (ADCs).  Second, the atmosphere itself
conspires to degrade the photometry through a phenomenon called
scintillation, where the turbulent bubbles of gas act like lenses, increasing
or decreasing the amount of flux entering the front of your telescope.
The twinkling of naked eye stars is caused by scintillation.

  To counteract saturation, first test your CCD camera to find out
the limits of its linearity and where full well occurs in the dynamic
range of your ADC.  Then keep the signal level within the linear range
and below the full well.  For very bright sources, you may reach a
limit where you cannot take a short enough exposure to prevent
saturation.  Techniques to go even brighter include:

   1. Stopping down the aperture of your telescope by using a mask
      with a cutout hole.  You can often place the cutout so that the
      incoming light avoids the central obstruction and spiders.
   2. Using a photometric filter, especially a blue one.  The filter
      decreases the bandwidth and therefore decreases the amount of
      light reaching the CCD, enabling longer exposures.  Using a
      blue filter further moves the incoming light to a wavelength
      regime where the CCD is less sensitive, enabling longer exposures.
   3. Defocussing.  While you don't want images with "donuts", you
      can often increase the image profile by a factor of two or more,
      thereby decreasing the central peak intensity.
   4. Using a Barlow lens.  Increasing the image scale spreads the
      starlight over more pixels, decreasing the peak intensity.
   5. Wait for a night of poor seeing!
   6. Often a night with uniform cirrus can be used, since such
      clouds decrease the incoming flux.

 Scintillation can be tricky.  It is stronger nearer the horizon where
you are looking through more atmosphere.  It is also stronger for smaller
telescope apertures, where each blob of atmospheric gas is closer to
the telescope aperture size (bigger telescopes average many blobs).
It is also a function of wavelength (redder is better) and exposure time
(longer is better).  
 Tips to avoid scintillation:

   1. Use relatively long exposures (10 seconds or longer).  Use the
      techniques listed above to increase exposure time if necessary.
   2. Don't work close to the horizon.  We usually recommend staying
      above airmass 2.5 if possible.
   3. Take multiple exposures and average to beat down the effects
      of scintillation.

 Here is a formula posted By Radu Corlan (CXR) for estimating                                                    
scintillation without taking altitude into consideration:
      scint = (0.09 * A ^ 1.75) / (D ^ 0.66 * sqrt(2 * t))                                                        
 Where A is the airmass, D is the aperture in cm and t is the integration 
time in seconds.   
 It is taken from a series of papers by Dravins et al. that begin                                                
with "Atmospheric Intensity Scintillation of Stars, I. Statistical                                               
Distributions and Temporal Properties" 1997, PASP. 109, 173.                                                     
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 5. SWIFT STATUS & GRB AFTERGLOW ACTIVITY REPORT

 There has not been much activity in the past four months. However, SWIFT
is scheduled to be launched in early October. Good localizations are
expected in mid November with their quality gradually increasing
afterward. SWIFT is planning to follow an afterglow for at least 5.5 hours
after detection.

 SWIFT is expected to detect one GRB about every other day. Of these, we
expect one GRB afterglow should be viewable from each observer's location
every other week after accounting for daylight, weather and lunar
interference. That is alot of work! Remember, the race will no longer be
about identifying and localizing a GRB from SWIFT. It will be about
building high quality lightcurves. If each member of the High Energy
Network observes one afterglow per month we would quickly build a
substantial database of afterglow light curves which could be very popular
among the researchers.

 It is important to note that amateur observations of GRBs are still
needed! In fact, NASA recognizes that and has given the AAVSO a nearly
$50,000 grant to continue and expand operations of the High Energy Network
in direct support of the SWIFT mission.  Amateurs will be needed to build
light curves after SWIFT stops monitoring the burst. In addition, the
SWIFT monitoring telescope (UVOT) is a near UV-optical hybrid. It has a
detector with a response range of 170-650nm. It peaks in the Johnson B
band, has a little V sensitivity and no R or Ic coverage.  Ground based
observations in VRI will still be needed to complement the near-UV
observations of SWIFT. In fact, SWIFT is planning to distribute the first
UVOT image of the field for use as a finder chart for observers on the
ground. The SWIFT team recognizes that they are part of a collaborative
effort with ground based astronomers.

 More information, including the SWIFT observing policy in Word and PDF
format, can be found at this URL:
                http://swift.gsfc.nasa.gov/

 Below is a listing of the AAVSO International High Energy Network GRB
observation reports since the last issue of CCD Views:

   GRB040717: Zsolt Kereszty (KZX) imaged the field and did not detect
anything down to R=17.95. To date, no optical transient has been reported
by anyone else via GCN.

   GRB040730: Berto Monard (MLF) imaged the field and did not detect
anything down to CR=19.5 . To date, no optical transient has been reported
by anyone else via GCN.

   GRB040810: Berto Monard (MLF) imaged the center 22x20 arc minutes of
the field and did not detect anything down to CR=17.5 under deteriorating
weather conditions. To date, no optical transient has been reported by
anyone else via GCN.

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 6. ZEN OF IRAF

 Chuck Pullen (PCH) has written "Zen Of Iraf: A Spiritual User's Guide to
the 'Image Reduction and Analysis Facility' for the Linux Novice." It is a
53-page PDF treatise on achieving enlightment and the quenching of thirst
through the use of the photometry package everyone loves to hate.  Note,
this is a work in progress. It can be downloaded at the following URL:
  http://www.aavso.org/observing/programs/ccd/zen_of_iraf.pdf

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 7. THANKS TO SPECIAL EDITION OBSERVERS

 Thanks to all those who have responded to the recent CCD Views Special
Edition's we've been publishing in the last few months. Lots of
professional observatories and satellites requested your help.

 QS Tel (Chandra - CCD Views #323)
 MLF - Berto Monard
 
 V4641 Sgr (Chandra and VLA - CCD Views #322)
 JM - Robert James (excellent time series coincident with the VLA run)

 VW Hyi (FUSE - CCD Views #322, #309)
 MLF - Berto Monard

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8. ONLINE LIST OF AAVSO CCD CHARTS

 Tim Crawford (CTX) recently assembled a list of AAVSO charts that
have extended photometric information for CCD observers. Most of
these charts have the data listed in a chart table in the lower
righthand corner of the charts. The listing here includes the star
designation, name, type, period, range and the filters for which
photometric data is available (UBRI). AAVSO HQ is now maintaining
this list on a web page and will update it when a new chart is
issued with extended photometric information.

 This is a good place to go when looking for new objects to add to your
program. Currently we only add CCD tables to charts when there is a
specific need for CCD observations of the object.

 The list can be found at this URL:
        http://www.aavso.org/observing/charts/ccd.shtml

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9. CCD POINTS

  The following totals are for April 1, 2004 (last issue of CCD
Views) - August 1, 2004.

  REMINDER: CCD Points are *not* an official AAVSO report and carry
no weight at HQ. They are provided purely for fun and to start
barroom brawls at AAVSO meetings.

Points Obs.   Observer
18421  16779  COO COOK, LEWIS M. (CONCORD,CA,USA)                        
15049  9649   VMT VANMUNSTER, TONNY (B-3401 LANDEN,BELGIUM)              
9856   2327   JM JAMES, ROBERT A. (LAS CRUCES,NM,USA)                    
5833   1226   MXD MESSIER, DAVID (LISBON,CT,USA)                         
5712   958    HQA HENDEN, ARNE ANTHON (FLAGSTAFF,AZ,USA)                 
5330   1120   BDG BOYD, DAVID (OXON OX12 9TX,ENGLAND)                    
4298   976    SDB STARKEY, DONN RAY (AUBURN,IN,USA)                      
3762   664    KMP KOPPELMAN, MICHAEL (GOLDEN VALLEY,MN,USA)              
3409   614    GKA GRAHAM, KEITH A. (MANHATTEN,IL,USA)                    
3150   652    PCH PULLEN, A. CHARLES (WILTON,CA,USA)                     
3023   598    GBL GARY, BRUCE L. (HEREFORD,AZ,USA)                       
2988   593    NMI NICHOLAS, MICHAEL (GLENDALE,AZ,USA)                    
2722   480    NFD NIEUWENHOUT, FRANS D.J. (,NETHERLANDS)                 
2660   675    OAR OKSANEN, ARTO (FIN-40950 MUURAME,FINLAND)              
2635   556    AWJ AQUINO, WILLIAM J. (NIAGARA FALLS,NY,USA)              
2307   428    CTX CRAWFORD, TIMOTHY R. (ARCH CAPE,OR,USA)                
2193   461    WGR WALKER, GARY (SHERBORN,MA,USA)                         
1991   402    QNK QUINN, NICK (WEST SUSSEX  BN44 3LR,ENGLAND)            
1730   336    FJQ FOSTER, JAMES (LOS ANGELES,CA,USA)                     
1530   397    MMU MUNKACSY, MARK J. (PORTSMOUTH,RI,USA)                  
1331   277    RSE ROBINSON, STEPHEN E. (ROCKVILLE,MD,USA)                
1260   218    BKL BLACKWELL, JOHN A. (NORTHWOOD,NH,USA)                  
1254   249    TPE TIKKANEN, PETRI (FI-40320 JYVASKYLA,FINLAND)           
1150   367    HBD HEATHCOTE, BERNARD DAVID (3141 SOUTH YARRA, VICTORIA,AUSTRALIA)
1141   214    DKS DVORAK, SHAWN W. (CLERMONT,FL,USA)                     
1080   1708   NLX NELSON, PETER ROBERT (VICTORIA 3820,AUSTRALIA)         
1024   199    ITM ITKONEN, TOMMI (FIN-80160 JOENSUU,FINLAND)             
957    1183   RIX RICHARDS, THOMAS JOSEPH (ELTHAM, VICTORIA 3095,AUSTRALIA)
932    82     CXR CORLAN, RADU (71206 BUCHAREST 1,ROMANIA)               
889    146    KZX KERESZTY, ZSOLT (9081 GYORUJBARAT,HUNGARY)             
837    99     CJS CASE, JAMES A. (KANSAS CITY,MO,USA)                    
820    143    SGE SARTY, GORDON ERIC (SASKATOON, SASKATCHEWAN S7H 4H2,CANADA)
813    66     CUA CORLAN, ALEXANDRU (71206 BUCHAREST 1,ROMANIA)          
812    243    PPK PAAKKONEN, PERTTI (FIN-80160 JOENSUU,FINLAND)          
793    136    HUZ HUZIAK, RICHARD (SASKATOON SASKATCHEWAN S7J 0A2,CANADA)
784    178    MDW MACDONALD II, WALTER J. (WINCHESTER,  ONTARIO  K0C 2K0,CANADA)
569    66     WDZ WELLS, DON (MISSOURI CITY,TX,USA)                      
539    103    HBB HARRIS, BARBARA (NEW SMYRNA BEACH,FL,USA)              
529    104    KTC KRAJCI, TOM (DULLES,VA,USA)                            
492    93     KCH KNAPP, CHARLES (RENICK,WV,USA)                         
454    32     ARJ ARNOLD, JAMES E. (HUNTSVILLE,AL,USA)                   
398    58     RZD RODRIGUEZ, DIEGO (28400 VILLALBA, MADRID,SPAIN)        
380    78     MVD MAIS, DALE (VALLEY CENTER,CA,USA)                      
368    52     GMZ GRAZIANI, MAURO (FUSIGNANO 48010 (RA),ITALY)           
338    53     DPP DE PONTHIERE, PIERRE (5170 LESVE,BELGIUM)              
335    29     CGY CLIMENT GARCIA, TONI (ALGINET-VALENCIA 46230,SPAIN)    
326    43     CHG CHANTEGROS, HERVE (87200 SAINT-JUNIEN,FRANCE)          
288    50     HDF HOHMAN, DENNIS G. (ORCHARD PARK,NY,USA)                
252    100    MTK MICHALIK, TOM (LYNCHBURG,VA,USA)                       
250    34     RR ROYER, RONALD E. (SPRINGVILLE,CA,USA)                   
215    43     RWA RAUSCHER, WALTER (JENKINTOWN,PA,USA)                   
210    40     MXY MCCLUSKY, JOHN V. (SEGUIN,TX,USA)                      
190    36     SDY SCHARNHORST, DANNY (99084 ERFURT,GERMANY)              
173    44     VST VALENTINI, STEFANO (CRESPADORO,ITALY)                  
172    19     DIL DILLON, WILLIAM G. (MISSOURI CITY,TX,USA)              
162    15     CDV CORNELL, DAVID (ELSAH,IL,USA)                          
139    13     MXM MIFSUD, MARTIN (PIETA,MALTA)                           
133    21     WJD WEST, JERRY DOUG (MULVANE,KS,USA)                      
128    22     PAH PRICE, AARON (WATERTOWN,MA,USA)                        
123    111    MAV MATSNEV, DMITRY V. (MOSCOW,RUSSIA)                     
122    22     FMG FUGMAN, GARY C. (LYONS,NE,USA)                         
116    15     LJJ LAURENT, JEAN-LUC (91530 LE VAL SAINT GERMAIN,FRANCE)  
115    21     WBY WALTER, BRADLEY (LOCKHART,TX,USA)                      
89     15     HJZ HORNE, JERRY D. (SAN JOSE,CA,USA)                      
86     11     ZFL ZATTERA, FLAVIO (36073 CORNEDO VICENTINO (VI),ITALY)   
49     13     MMG MARTINENGO, MAURIZIO (10060 CANTALUPA (TURIN),ITALY)   
43     13     SUQ SUCKER, ACHIM (D-31139 HILDESHEIM,GERMANY)             
41     44     LVY LEVY, DAVID H. (VAIL,AZ,USA)                           

 A description of the CCD Points algorithm is available in CCD
Views #316.
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 Good observing!

 Aaron Price, AAVSO Technical Assistant (PAH)
 Gary Walker, Chairman of the AAVSO CCD Committee (WGR)

Copyright 2004, American Association of Variable Star Observers
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           THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF VARIABLE STAR OBSERVERS
                25 Birch Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA
                Tel. 617-354-0484       Fax 617-354-0665
                         http://www.aavso.org
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