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Sara Beck

TECHNICAL ASSISTANT, SCIENCE TEAM

Sara has been working full time for part of each year at the AAVSO since 1990. Her interest in astronomy began in high school where she formed an astronomy club, began making her own telescope, and attended an astronomy camp at the University of Iowa.

Sara then went on to receive her BA degree in Physics and Astronomy from Smith College in 1980, during which time she spent a summer working as an intern at the Maria Mitchell Observatory in Nantucket with Dr. Dorrit Hoffleit. It was through her variable star work there that she had the privilege of being introduced to Dr. Janet Mattei. Along with the other MMO students, she delivered a paper at the AAVSO Annual Meeting that fall.

Immediately after graduation from Smith, Sara worked at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston training astronauts in guidance, propulsion, and flight control systems using the space shuttle simulators. During these years, she also became involved as a volunteer with the restoration and sailing of the square-rigged ship, Elissa, in Galveston, Texas. Eventually, she got itchy feet and resigned from NASA to spend the next two years working on a ship in the South Pacific and traveling around Australia.

Upon her return to the US, Sara began working at the AAVSO, tackling any project that Janet had for her. Some of these projects included preparing data for publication, data validation, re-writing the Visual Observing Manual for Variable Stars, and setting up the membership mailing list database.

Since Arne became Director, Sara has written several java applications including Zapper, Seqplot, and the membership database program, AAVSOpeeps. She also continues with database maintenence, works with David Benn on VStar, and gets involved with numerous special projects.

In her spare time, Sara continues to travel and pursue her sea-going career. She holds a Coast Guard mates license and works on sail training vessels occasionally, often helping to teach celestial navigation to college students during sea semester programs. In the summer, she can often be found cruising the Maine coast in her 1936 Friendship Sloop, Flying Jib.

AAVSO 49 Bay State Rd. Cambridge, MA 02138 aavso@aavso.org 617-354-0484