AAVSO Board Officers and Members - John Briggs






John W. Briggs

BA in physics ,San Jose State University

John W. Briggs is an instrumentation engineer who has lived and worked at observatories across the country in various technical capacities, including Mount Wilson, Yerkes, National Solar, Maria Mitchell, Venezuelan National, and others.  AAVSO has been a strong influence on him since 1973 when, as a youngster, he attended his first symposium on variable stars at Stamford Observatory in Connecticut.  In the 1980s he was an assistant editor at Sky & Telescope magazine and built Bogsucker Observatory in Massachusetts.  In 1994, he was a winter-over scientist at South Pole Station working for University of Chicago’s Center for Astrophysical Research in Antarctica.  In the later 1990s, he was a team member in the final commissioning of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, and with his family he lived near Sunspot, New Mexico, altogether some seven years.  

An active collector of astronomical history, in 2019 he completed a third term as president of the Antique Telescope Society, and he has been active with the Historical Astronomy Division of the American Astronomical Society and more recently the Alliance of Historic Observatories.  Currently he operates FOAH Observatory near Magdalena, New Mexico, and the Astronomical Lyceum, an informal astronomical museum/workshop/library.  His career includes teaching at University of Colorado, New Mexico State University, and as an invited visiting scholar for the 2005-06 academic year at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts.  He recently played a central role in the transfer of Princeton's 95-cm observatory telescope to Mittelman Family Foundation and a new observatory near Mayhill, New Mexico.  As a recent consultant to University of Chicago, he performed a detailed inventory of Yerkes Observatory in its transition to stewardship by the Yerkes Future Foundation.

Briggs founded and operated the ongoing annual Hartness House Workshop in Springfield, Vermont, through its first seven years, the Workshop running to benefit the Porter-Hartness Museum of Amateur Telescope Making.  Briggs was also a founding staff member of Mount Wilson's ongoing CUREA summer program for undergraduates.  He has friends and associates widely distributed through the astronomical communities, amateur and professional, and he has been able to influence and encourage a number of successful scientific & educational philanthropic enterprises.  He writes, "AAVSO leaders have been key mentors to me over a lifetime.  I could go on at length!  I can't imagine a finer thing for me to do now than to help the organization however I can."