The AAVSO Research Portal

Welcome to the AAVSO's Research Portal.  From this page, you can find information about obtaining AAVSO data, requesting new observations, or learning more about the AAVSO, its data, and its services for the research community.  Its purpose is to facilitate your use of the AAVSO's resources in your research efforts.

See the gray boxes on the right hand side of this page to access the AAVSO data archives or to find out  how to work with the AAVSO to obtain new scientific data.


AAVSO support for the research community

The AAVSO's purpose and mission are laid out in full in our Mission Statement.  We exist primarily to serve the variable star research community -- both amateur and professional -- and to further the science of variable star astronomy and astrophysics.  In addition to serving as an archive of ground-based astronomical photometry from the amateur and professional communities, we also provide extensive support for multiwavelength observing campaigns and other Pro-Am collaborative research projects.  In the past year, we have provided support and data for projects involving both ground- and space-based observatories like the Hubble Space Telescope, Swift, RXTE, XMM-Newton, and others, as well as for major ground-based facilities like the VLA and VLBA radio telescopes.

Researchers are important members of the AAVSO community: it is you who turn the AAVSO's extensive data archives into new and better scientific understanding.  It is part of the AAVSO's mission to facilitate your work, and we are here to help you!  If there is information you're looking for and can't find, please contact the AAVSO's research services and we will do our best to assist you.  You can learn more about the AAVSO and the services it provides to researchers by downloading a copy of the poster presented at the 216th AAS Meeting in Miami, Florida, May 23-27, 2010.

Who we are

The American Association of Variable Star Observers was formally founded in 1911 as an organization devoted to the study of variable stars, and to the support and encouragement of the valuable contributions of all researchers -- amateur and professional -- to this important field. After nearly a century, the AAVSO continues to fulfill its role of advancing variable star research by preserving and sharing its data archive of more than 50 million variable star observations, and by fostering collaboration between the world-wide amateur and professional astronomical communities.

The AAVSO's Impact On Science

Visual and V-band light curve of U   Monocerotis

From its beginning, the AAVSO has been focused on the science of variable star astronomy, and its goal has been to aid both amateur and professional astronomers in pursuit of this goal.  Today the AAVSO and its observer community contributes to science in a number of ways.

  • We provide free access to the AAVSO's databases:
  • We provide a communication link between the observer community and the research community by announcing important astrophysical events, establishing new research programs and observing campaigns, and maintaining an open and effective service that enables observers to submit data and researchers to access it, all in real time
  • We work with the research community to interpret and analyze our data archives, maximizing the value of our visual, photographic, photoelectric, and CCD data archives
  • We are providing the community with new comparison stars and new photometry, including the AAVSO Photometric All-Sky Survey, APASS
  • We provide key services to both amateur and professional observers, including: AAVSOnet, the AAVSO's network of remote, robotic observatories; Alert Notices to announce time-critical observing opportunities and observing campaigns; observing campaigns that provide support for both short- and long-term observing programs, requests for mission planning assistance, and target-of-opportunity coverage; fully-customizable variable star charts, coupled with an active program to establish new comparison star sequences, and much, much more.

The AAVSO can have a positive impact on your research programs.  We invite you to partner with us to make your research happen!

Transmitting the Observations to You

The AAVSO has infrastructure in place to engage the observer community in active research programs, and to transmit observations from observers to you in real time. Examples of this include:
  • MyNewsFlash, and Alert Notices
    Rapid notification of important astrophysical events
  • Target-of-Opportunity Observations
    We monitor transient sources for Target-of-Opportunity observations with ground- and space-based observatories (e.g. Hubble Space Telescope observations of CVs)
  • Long-term Observing Campaigns
    Requiring observations of single stars or lists of targets over a period of time
  • Observing campaigns
    of interest to individual researchers.

If your research programs can be facilitated by partnering with the AAVSO, please contact our Campaign Coordinator, Elizabeth Waagen for assistance.


Historical research: the AAVSO Archives

In addition to its archives of astrophysical variable star data, the AAVSO also maintains the Thomas R. and Anna Fay Williams AAVSO Archives, the repository for all historical charts, books and publications, correspondence, records, and other collected material that document the history of the AAVSO from 19th Century to the present day.  These materials are an invaluable resource for any historical or sociological researcher studying the history of variable star astronomy, astronomy in the 19th and 20th centuries, Harvard College Observatory, Citizen Science, or Professional-Amateur collaborations in science and technology research.  The AAVSO Archives were transferred as the AAVSO Collection to the Harvard University Archives in 2022. They will not be available for a few years; once they are integrated into the Harvard Archives system, they will be available via Harvard.

The AAVSO is slowly making some of our historic materials available online in digital form.  You may find out more about the AAVSO Archives and obtain a catalog of materials, finding lists, and other documentation by clicking here. If you have questions, please contact AAVSO Headquarters.


Support the AAVSO

The AAVSO is an endowment-funded, non-profit research organization.  We do not receive any federal or institutional funding for our day-to-day activities, and our support for researchers critically depends upon increasingly scarce resources. 

Access to the AAVSO data archives is and always will be free, open, and unconditional when data are used according to our data usage guidelines.  If you require substantial staff assistance for your research, we may request grant support to cover our expected costs.  If possible, please partner with us, and include us in your grant proposals. 

Another key way you can show your support for the AAVSO is to become a member!  We are a membership organization of professionals, amateurs, and educators committed to variable star astronomy, and we depend upon researchers like you to support our goals. 

Our continued success critically depends upon community support -- if you need us, we need you!