The AAVSO is an organization that thrives only with the work of dedicated observers and other volunteers. There are a number of new and ongoing projects at the AAVSO that need people to make them happen. If you're looking for ways to make a contribution to the AAVSO in your spare time (or on a cloudy night!) please consider helping with one or more of these important projects!
Mentor Observers (Mentor Program)
We need experienced observers, visual, CCD and PEP, who are willing to share their time and expertise to help new observers become proficient. If you would like to volunteer contact the program coordinator, Donn Starkey.
AAVSO members and observers use a variety of software to help plan observing runs, submit data, analyze data and for educational purposes. A lot of this software was developed by others and given freely to the AAVSO to share with the public. Do you have a new variable star tool or game? Would you like to help develop software for AAVSO projects? Contact us and let us know.
Help us validate data with Zapper
Are you interested in helping HQ make sure that our variable star data remains the best in the world? Check out the Zapper program. Zapper is a Java, multi-platform program that enables our members to help us make sure our data is of the highest quality by ‘zapping’ discrepant data points.
Data entry projects
The AAVSO has a number of data entry projects for observational data of the 19th and 20th centuries that exist on paper but not in electronic form. Some of these are AAVSO data published elsewhere (like the Harvard Annals), some are observations found in private papers and correspondence with Headquarters, and some are published data appearing in early literature. While these data are "safe" -- they're preserved and available in paper form -- they're hard to make use of to plot light curves or analyze with computer tools. To make these data easily available to researchers, we want to enter these into the AAVSO International Database and make them available through the light curve generator and data download. We need your help to make that happen!
Some of these data, particularly those published in astronomical literature, are already scanned and available online which means you can keypunch or try to OCR them from the comfort of your own home or office! Other projects may involve going through the AAVSO Archive of historical papers and other material to seek out, scan, and keypunch or OCR these data. See the list of projects below, or contact Elizabeth Waagen for more information. The AAVSO would be very glad to have your help with these important scientific and historical projects!
Here is a sample of the kinds of things that need to be digitized:
- Digitization of AAVSO data published in the Harvard Annals
- Digitization of the IAU Archives of Unpublished Observations
- Digitization of variable star observations of the 19th Century
- Transcription of the Eggen Archives
- Sunspot data
Help make Charts and Sequences
The AAVSO largely automated chart production in the 21st century. Observers now download custom made charts with characteristics chosen to match their instrumentation and preferences from VSP, the Variable Star Plotter.
This has eliminated the need for teams of workers creating multiple ‘paper’ charts of various field sizes, magnitude limits and field rotation. But it has not completely automated the process. Volunteers using a specific set of criteria still select the comparison star sequences used on all VSP charts. This work will continue indefinitely into the future. Would you like to help? Contact the Sequence Team leader, Tom Bretl.
Help us keeping VSX up-to-date
The Variable Star Index (VSX) has become the largest variable star database in the world. As time goes by, more and more catalogues and lists need to be incorporated to our database, which takes a lot of time and human resources.
We have made a call for volunteers so you can help us keep up with this challenge.
There are many projects that we can take up.
Contact us so we can discuss which one is best for you.
If you can write engaging, scientifically accurate articles about stellar astronomy, variable stars, observing or the AAVSO, you can contribute to any number of AAVSO publications and web pages. We have a quarterly newsletter and annual report, a blog on the main website, blogs on the section web pages, a Facebook page, and a whole series of Variable Star of the Season pieces that you can help make interesting, entertaining and educational. Contact us to find out more.
Write a Book Review for the AAVSO Bookstore
The AAVSO Bookstore has reviews of books on variable stars and related topics intended to help you make informed decisions on purchasing books appropriate to your interest and level of understanding.
The list of reviews and books we offer is a continuous work in progress. If you have a book you'd like to see reviewed, or if you have a review of an appropriate book you'd like to submit, please contact us.
Referee papers for JAAVSO
The Journal of the AAVSO contains the results of research on variable stars and is written mostly by AAVSO members. The quality of scientific journals such as this depends on careful, objective, and informed refereeing. Potential referees are selected by the Editor and will be asked to do the job in a reasonably short time, normally a few weeks. If you have the expertise and can devote some of your time to maintaining the standards of our Journal please contact the Editor and let him know.
Help edit the Writers Bureau
The AAVSO Writers Bureau is a filter blog that offers variable star and stellar astronomy content on a monthly basis to editors of astronomy club and society newsletters. This gives us the chance to inform the public about the fascinating objects we study, as well as the science and research being done, while providing reliable, accurate information to newsletter editors who may lack the time or expertise to write or vet articles for publication. Scanning the participating science and astronomy blogs for material each week is an ongoing endeavor. If you’d like to help, please contact us.
The Speakers Bureau is always on the lookout for enthusiastic, knowledgeable speakers to provide presentations for astronomy clubs, star parties, banquets, Scout Troops, Astronomy Day activities and other public and private astronomy functions. If you have the gift of gab and time to volunteer, please contact us.
Submit a Variable Star Presentation to the Library
The AAVSO has a library of prepared PowerPoint presentations written by AAVSO members, intended for use in talks or presentations about variable stars and related subjects. If you would like to submit a presentation for inclusion in our library see the instructions on this page.