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Survey: Observing Programs

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RebeccaTurner's picture
Survey: Observing Programs

The AAVSO Council is seeking Member/Observer input on the AAVSO's Observing Sections and Programs.  We would appreciate your feedback!  Survey results will be discussed at the next AAVSO Council meeting and will be used to improve the AAVSO Observing Sections and Programs in the future.

The survey can be found at:  (All questions are optional.)

Thank you for your participation!

KRS's picture

Hi Rebecca,

I keep getting a message that there are no surveys for me to take.  Help!


RebeccaTurner's picture
Please send error

Hello Roger,

I will look into this for you.  Please email me a screen shot or the exact text of the error that you are getting when you click on the survey link.  The link is working for many people - we have already received over 30 responses. 

If anyone else is having difficulties reaching the survey, please let me know!

pukemaru's picture
Survey - Some Thoughts

I completed it without any trouble, Sarah. BUT I think there needs to be an N/A (Not Applicable) option. eg when asked to rate the manuals, I haven't read a few as I don't observe in those areas.

Also when asked if we would observe in certain areas if manuals were published, it would help if we could comment. eg RR LYRAE. I don't get enough clear skies to observe CVs as it is (that's my passion along with RCBs), so I don't have time for new programmes. So it's not about lack of interest in the programmes, but commitments to other types of variables.

Kind regards


LaurenRosenbaum's picture
Re: Survey - Some Thoughts

Hi Stephen,

In response to your first thought, all questions should be optional, so you should have been able to leave them blank if they don't apply to you.  I guess that doesn't help you now, but hopefully it'll help others who come across this thread!

Lauren Rosenbaum, AAVSO Administrative Assistant

KRS's picture
AAVSO Survey

Members of the AAVSO, please take the survey.  The members of the Program Committee are looking for feedback in an attempt to improve both our observations and our services to membership.  This is an important component to our report to AAVSO Council as we move forward into the future course of the organization we all love.

Roger S. Kolman,

Chairman, AAVSO Program Committee

WAB's picture
AAVSO Survey

I'm confused: what type of "star" is an asteroid? Why is the AAVSO thinking of jumping into this realm?

Brian D. Warner

WGR's picture
Asteroid Light Curves

Hello Brian

As a member of AAVSO council, and a member of both societies, I have no interest in pushing AAVSO towards asteroid light curves/research.   I think SAS is the world leader in this area, and I hope they continue.  If somewhere down the line, SAS were to approach AAVSO to maintain the archive of data so that it would be there in a hundred years, and SAS did not want to take that on, then this would be another issue. 

It seems that spectra would be a more synergistic area for AAVSO, and resources are tight.  If there is someone who wants to make that happen leadership wise and financially, I think AAVSO would be an ideal choice and we would welcome it.

Gary Walker

WAB's picture
Asteroid Light Curves

Hi Gary,

There already is an archive for asteroid lightcurve data, hosted by the Minor Planet Center

that uses a standard that borrowed some elements from the AAVSO's CCD photometry standard. More than 1.4 million observations are in that archive already. There are, of course, many more elements to document if an asteroid lightcurve data is to be "unscrewed" and so allow independent research. Thus a much larger set of keywords (ala FITS <keyword>=<value>) is documented.

Spectroscopy is a whole other game. I don't pretend to know much more than how to spell it. Minor planet spectroscopy is mostly out of the realm of the backyard astronomer. Too little glass. There have been some efforts at photospectrometry (mapping corrected response over a range of wavelengths - not using a grating/prism) but the response of readily available CCD chips doesn't go far enough into the IR to cover a critical absorbtion band at about 1.1 microns. The depth/presence of this band is critical to proper taxonomic classification.

Broad classification can be done using color-color photometry, e.g., B-V and V-R (I know, Arne likes V-I but we're talking asteroids here <g>).

As for SAS, it's not quite like the AAVSO, which is an excellent organization when it comes to coordinating campaigns, establishing consistent procedures, and so on. SAS provides a forum for those doing the work, but doesn't take the lead as does AAVSO. Most asteroid work is falling under EPO programs or programs such as LARI run by Lowell Observatory.


Spectroscopy Books


Hi Gary,

I would love to see the AAVSO get more involved with specroscopy, but please understand, spectroscopy is very different from photometry. Interesting though, I find it less demanding than photometry.

There are some points that I think need clarifying. First, 75% of spectroscopy is in the processing and 25% in the observing. Archiving low quality or unknown quality spectra will be of no value to anyone. I think it would be very important to only accept data from those who have shown they know what they are doing. I think one or two different level spectroscopy manuals on line would help as well as a couple of different level of courses, perhaps like the CCD courses. Once a person qualifies, they would need to observe specific objects with specific objectivess and submit data in a specific format. As for archiving spectra, typically one of my 16 bit .fits images is 1,700 kB. Once I produce a line profile the .dat file is only 14 kB. Over 95% of the spectrum image file is of no value. What is of value is a properly processed light curve saved as a .dat file. The .dat file is what should be archived.

It is also very important to understand that spectroscopy spreads light out so dim a object's spectrum becomes even dimmer (several orders of magnitude dimmer). That is why spectroscopy of dim objects fall in the realm of very large telescopes. AAVSO projects should involve bright objects. As Dr. John Martin has pointed out there are many bright objects deserving observtions that are negelcted by the professionals.

There are basically two types of spectroscopy, low-resolution and high-resolution. Low-resolution is the easiest, but less valuable. That is why I suggest two divisions for spectroscopic observations. Many details would need to be worked out, but I think the AAVSO would be a great place to do this.

BTW, I have emailed Rebecca several times on this, but get no response. Back in January she did respond, but nothing since. Is there someone else I should be addressing my comments to?

Hopkins Phoenix Observatory

RebeccaTurner's picture
Hello Jeff! FYI - I just

Hello Jeff!

FYI - I just replied to you in length via email. It seems that while your hposoft address was going into my inbox, your aol address was filtering into my spam folder.  Both addresses should be OK now.

HQA's picture

Hi Brian,

There has been some discussion, both within the Council and from members who have their feet in both camps, whether the AAVSO should participate in some aspects of asteroid research.  For example, obtaining asteroid light curves is very similar to stellar light curves, and the geographical diversification of the AAVSO membership would be valuable for occultations.  This question on the survey is to judge the amount of interest towards such activities, to help us in deciding how to apportion our limited resources in the future.


WAB's picture

Hi Arne,

I hope the scope installation went well.

There is a big difference between obtaining asteroid lightcurves and properly analyzing them. One cannot simply take lightcurves from several nights and plop them over one another. Changing geometry, distances, and amplitudes due to phase angle changes complicate the matter considerably. Arbitrarily adjusting curves so that they fit over one another can hide or lose valuable information, as has been seen in some papers in the Minor Planet Bulletin where evidence of "tumbling" and possibly even a new class of binary asteroids were overlooked.

If the effort is simply to gather raw, well-determined photometry with no attempt at period analysis, then - yes - the more data the merrier, as long as it meets some basic criteria as far as density of data points. Otherwise, I have not only these concerns but those addressed in a series of papers by Alan Harris and/or myself appearing in Icarus the past few years regarding the skewing of rotation rate statistics.

One positive point on behest of the AAVSO is its well-established ability to coordinate observing campaigns. I'm seeing a number of "lets get asteorid lightcurves" programs popping up (often as part of EPO requirements) some of which 1) are not giving good thought to the special needs of asteroid lightcurve production and analysis and 2) not talking to one another. It would be nice if something like a well-oiled AAVSO program could be organized to encompass these efforts and so make sure that the most is being made of resources.


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