Director's Report - 2023 Q4

Directors Report for 2023 Q4

Dear AAVSO Members, Observers, and Supporters,

Thank you for joining me in another quarterly roundup of AAVSO’s activities. I’m pleased to have the opportunity to share with you our recent activities including highlights from the AAVSO’s 112th Annual Meeting, an announcement regarding our 2024 Strategic Plan, and several important decisions from the Board of Directors. On a more personal note, this report marks my first full year as the Executive Director of the AAVSO.

AAVSO annual meeting

As you are likely aware, the AAVSO held its 112th Annual Meeting at The Row Hotel in Somerville, MA on November 3-5, 2023. We had a total of 70 people attending the meeting in person and 64 online. 

Group photo for the 112th Annual Meeting

Friday kicked off with a one-day workshop on Astropy presented by Dr. Matt Craig. That evening, Dr. Dipankar Maitra presented a talk on student research using a new CMOS-based polarization camera. Saturday morning began with this year’s Landolt Lecturer, Dr. Paula Szkody who presented her work on Cataclysmic Variable stars. Sunday featured our Membership Meeting, which is available for you to watch on YouTube, a discussion of protoplanet research by Dr. Catherine Espaillat, and Dr. Schaefer’s presentation on the CHARA Array. The Data Quality Task Force, which I established last year to find issues in our data and recommend long-lasting solutions to resolve them, presented their final report. In addition to our keynote speakers, a total of 19 talks and 4 posers were presented. During the closing banquet, Unistellar hosted a star party featuring their new EVScope 2.

In addition to the speakers, we also had five wonderful sponsors: DC3 Dreams, Diffraction Limited, Unistellar, Chroma Technology, and the AstroPy Project. If you get the chance, please thank them for supporting AAVSO and the field of variable star astronomy.

Select photos from the 2023 Annual Meeting

Strategic Planning for 2024 and beyond

As mentioned in my last Director’s Report, the Board of Directors established a Working Group to evaluate AAVSO’s progress towards its 2021 Strategic Plan. The group concluded that many of the objectives had been met and a new strategic plan is needed. 

At the November Board Meeting, the Working Group recommended that we put in place a one-year plan while preparing a plan for 2025 and beyond. The Board voted unanimously to adopt the following high-level goals for 2024:

  1. Establish our place in modern astronomy
  2. Infrastructure improvements
  3. Implement the Data Quality Task Force (DQTF) Recommendations
  4. Reduce the barrier to getting involved in variable star research
  5. Build stronger ties with researchers

If you would like to know the motivation behind these goals or how they will be realized, please watch the Directors Report portion of the 112th Membership Meeting on YouTube.

After approving the 2024 plan, the Board established a new Strategic Planning Committee and charged it with developing a plan for the next five years. Committee members are Richard Berry, David Cowall, Bob Buchheim, Peter Bealo, and Brian Kloppenborg. 

From the Board of Directors

During the last quarter the Board of Directors met three times to discuss various aspects of AAVSO’s future. After much discussion and deliberation, the following decisions were made:

  • The location for the 2024 Annual Meeting will be the Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL. The meeting will be held on November 8-10, 2024. Additional details will be posted to the website starting in May/June.
  • The new member fee of $10.00 has been removed. This fee was previously used to cover the fees of preparing and mailing new member information. This is now performed electronically instead.
  • The limited income, student, and teacher membership categories were disambiguated and updated.
  • Print publications for JAAVSO, the Impact Report, and Solar Bulletin will be discontinued after 2024. A total of six subscribers will be impacted and have been notified.

Clear Skies,

Dr. Brian Kloppenborg
Executive Director, AAVSO