The AAVSO spectroscopic database - now open for business :)

American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO)
Mon, 04/08/2019 - 13:49


It is a pleasure to soft launch the AAVSO spectroscopy database and invite you to submit your data. I hope it will be a great opportunity for our community to participate in scientific projects providing an alternative more od observations which, alongside photometry, it will boost the AAVSO observers’s contributions to science.  Please take a look at the relevant observing section at: (you need to log into your account). When you are ready to upload your data, the database can be found here:

While you are looking at the material, some comments for your consideration:

-- The AAVSO database/tools/material in its current form is a project that involved our observer community in each step of its development. The database itself was build based on the example of BESS, using all best practices based on our existing infrastructure.  Actually, we worked very closely with the BESS team to understand the various functionalities of their database and make sure ours echoes the data principles their excellent observer community is used to. We also took into account fits header standards, to make sure that our observers can submit information from any software they use, not needing to reformat anything. We retain all information in all headers. We developed our own tools since the BESS code was not compatible with our existing infrastructure. We also used a group of non-professional astronomers to test earlier versions of the database and improved it based on their comments. We learned a lot as we build everything, and I am grateful to our volunteer team, both non-professional and professional, who dedicated their time to work on this project.


-- As always, we focus on data quality. From the initial standard spectrum to all science spectra, every spectrum is being validated and feedback is provided to observers to help observers improve their data acquisition skills. The goal is to provide meaningful data that will be used for scientific research (now or in the future). We want our observers’s hard work to be recognized and used by researchers worldwide, to be presented in publications and to advance science. We build scientific collaborations. Therefore, we check ALL spectra. BESS is doing the same, and that’s why they have the reputation of a high-quality repository of spectra in the Be star community. We know that sometime software or hardware glitches can cause problems in the data and we want to notify observers when such problems surface (we do the same with our photometric data). Data quality is the principle behind all AAVSO databases, and it is something we will not compromise on. This is why professional astronomers come to the AAVSO with their projects, and this is not going to change.


-- All material was generated with our observers in mind. We want to give opportunities to those who never tried spectroscopy to get an idea on what spectroscopy entails, and also provide a more in-depth information to more experiences observers. Same with the tools: there are meant to help our observers to check their data and identify discrepancies themselves even while submitting data (if there are any discrepancies). Acquiring spectra requires a lot of time and investment, and I respect and value the effort that goes into observations. We are here to help strengthen our observer’s skills and help them improve if needed. So, if the information provided is unclear of something needs to be explained, please do let us know!!


-- For those who would like to be involved in specific projects: the observing section page that accompany the database includes specific targets of interest to professional astronomers for long- and short-term monitoring. Also, when AAVSO alerts come in, many times they include requests for spectra. Of course, you can submit any variable star spectrum you want. The sky is not the limit.


-- Having said all that, I ALWAYS welcome comments to improve the database, its tools, its training material. If you don’t tell us, we will not know. Therefore, if you have any constructive feedback which will help us strengthen the content or functionality, please please send them to


Again, thank you for your attention to this project. Let the observing begin!

Best wishes – clear skies,


American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO)
Spectrum quality

Hi Stella,

How much of a slant is permissable; and if any portion of the spectrum is saturated is it still useful?

Thank you,

John Briol