AAVSO CHOICE Courses in Astronomy and Observing

Why take a CHOICE course?

AAVSO’s Carolyn Hurless Online Institute for Continuing Education (CHOICE) courses improve participants’ astronomy skills in observation, analysis, research, writing, and advocation. Skills developed through each of these informal online courses increase your data collection accuracy, help make your time observing more enjoyable, and enable astronomers and researchers to best utilize AAVSO data.

How/where do the courses take place?

Courses are primarily conducted in the AAVSO website forum, where the instructor posts reading material and quizzes, and where written class discussions take place. This is an internationally-friendly format: while there are deadlines for assignments, you can otherwise participate in your own time from day to day.

In rare cases, the instructor will point to material elsewhere, or conduct live Zoom sessions. Courses in which the instructor uses Zoom are noted in the calendar below. 

Course descriptions and prerequisites 

Whether you are an AAVSO member or not, you can take as few or as many CHOICE courses as you like. Courses range from introductory to advanced, and cover a variety of topics. Students earn a pass/fail assessment at the end of each course.

Descriptions are here, or by clicking the name of the course in the below calendar.

Time allotment

Participants devote anywhere from 8–20 hours per week reading, participating discussions, and completing quizzes and exams. Unless otherwise noted, courses are four weeks long. 

To start a course

Once you enroll (see the calendar below), you will receive an email from eowaagen@aavso.org the Friday prior to the course beginning, with information on how to access the course and participate. 

If you have general CHOICE questions that are not about the course material, or if you do not receive the email by the end of the day (in ET) on the Friday prior to the course starting, please email eowaagen@aavso.org.  

2023 Courses and Registration

Each course is $35.00 for members, or $60.00 for nonmembers. You must be logged in to your AAVSO account at time of purchase. Not a member? Become a member prior to course registration to receive the member price!

Important Note => A course's registration opens on the first Tuesday of the month prior to the course starting (example: enrollment begins on Jan. 3rd for the course that begins on Feb. 6). Please click the respective "purchase" button below to register and pay for a course. (If a purchase button is not under the course you want, its registration is not currently open.)

                                                               2023 Schedule

February 6 - March 13 (6 weeks)
Advanced Use of AstroImageJ for Exoplanet Observing

Instructor: Dennis Conti
Features Zoom discussions:
Mondays 7:30 p.m. EST
(Tuesdays 0030 UT)


March 20 - April 30 (6 weeks)
CCD Photometry, Parts 1 & 2

Instructor: Ed Wiley


May 8 - June 4
How to Use VStar

Instructor: Aritra Das


June 5 - July 2
Variable Star Classification and Light Curves

Instructor: Blake Crosby



July 10 - August 6
Developing a Visual Observing Program

Instructor: Mike Poxon

September 4 - September 30
Observing and Counting Sunspots

Instructor: Raffaello Braga


October 2 - November 5 (5 weeks)
Photometry Using VPhot

Instructor: Ken Menzies

Purchase (Enroll)

13 Novembre - 9 Décembre
Classification des étoiles variables et courbes de lumière

Instructor: Jean-Bruno Desrosiers

Purchase here in October (Enroll)



Want to become a CHOICE course instructor?

Courses are peer taught—graduates of one course have the opportunity to lead the next iteration of that course. Learning occurs best when done collaboratively, and for many, the best way to learn is to teach. Those who lead a course receive any subsequent CHOICE course free of charge, and an instructor status symbol on their AAVSO profile for each course taught.  

Instructors can always get assistance from AAVSO staff, and use the course syllabi and any other course-related materials. AAVSO staff take care of the technical issues (registration and forum set-up), while the instructors guide the students through the course and perform assessments.

Contact Sara Beck at sara@aavso.org to discuss this opportunity.


About Carolyn Hurless

Carolyn J. Hurless, the most active and prolific female observer in the history of the AAVSO, recorded a total of 78,876 observations for the AAVSO International Database (AID). She also led a remarkable career as an AAVSO observer, councilor (board member), officer, mentor, and advocate.