AAVSO 2023 How-to Webinars

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 Each webinar provides instruction on a different astronomy-related activity or topic! 

Join us in these Zoom webinars to learn from  guest expert instructors, ask questions, and meet others with the same interest! The audience-driven nature of the Q&A leads to some quite extensive discussions, so there is no set cut-off time for the majority of these sessions.

Any cost? No, they are free to encourage your astronomy education!

When: The first Saturday of each month* in 2023 

            2 p.m. Eastern Time (19:00 UTC from January through March, and 18:00 UTC in November and December). 

              * Please note the exception: A webinar will take place Oct. 28 instead of Nov. 4 due to our Annual Meeting.

 Up next: 

 February 4, 2023:  How to [compare DSLR, CCD, and CMOS cameras for photometry]

                                 with instructor Mark de Jong

                                  Sign up 

Webinar description: The discussion will be catered to an audience who is familiar with acquiring images and the basics of image calibration using bias, dark and flat frames. MaximDL will be used for analysis of the images that will be used in this session, and VPHOT for the photometry.

In this webinar, Mark will compare the basic characteristics of DSLR, CCD and CMOS cameras for stellar photometry by analyzing a set of images of T Cep taken with each type of camera on the same telescope. The emphasis will be on the practical consequences of the different characteristics: noise, resolution, sensitivity, etc.

The T Cep images were taken over several years, as Mark moved from one camera to the next. He will also mention some quirks and challenges he has encountered over the years while learning to use these cameras.

Meet your instructor: Mark de Jong (AAVSO observer DJX) took his first, and only, astronomy course at university more than 50 years ago. However, he did not start actively observing until 2006, with variable stars as his main interest. After contributing

over 1,000 visual observations on Long-period variables (LPVs), he moved on to DSLR, CCD, and then CMOS cameras for photometry, while continuing to primarily observe LPVs. Recently, he has served as an AAVSO Mentor for new DSLR and CMOS observers. He has a background in the physics of particle accelerators and has worked in government laboratories, universities, and the private industry.



Watch the recordings of our past How-to webinars on YouTube!

January: How to [Observe Variable Stars with Binoculars] with instructor Sherrill Shaffer

Webinar description: Visual observing is an easy way to make a valuable contribution to science, even if you don't have much time or can't afford a telescope. There are hundreds of variable stars visible to the naked eye, and tens of thousands visible with binoculars, meaning that you'll never run out of fascinating targets to keep an eye on.

A few of the topics we'll cover:

  • Why should you make visual observations of variable stars?
  • Which variable stars should you observe?
  • How to get and use charts
  • How to make an estimate of your target’s brightness
  • How to record and report your observations
  • What's the best observing cadence?
  • Equipment for observing
  • Tips & tricks for better observing


Meet your instructor: Sherrill Shaffer has contributed more than 24,000 visual observations to the AAVSO’s database, most of them using binoculars. He also plays an important role in AAVSO’s data validation process and is an AAVSO Mentor to other visual observers. Shaffer's Ph.D. is from Stanford University, and he has held affiliations with the Federal Reserve, the University of Wyoming, and the Australian National University. He is a retired economist who has been an amateur astronomer for more than 30 years, and an active variable star observer since 2009. 

You can also see the schedule of speakers and register for these free webinars in our interactive calendar.