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new observers

Frequently Asked Questions from New Observers

Q- How do I get observer initials?

10-Star Training Tutorial

The 10-Star Training Tutorials are designed for novices who have no prior experience observing variable stars. It is a walk through of how to find the star, how to make an estimate and how to submit the estimate to the AAVSO. If you are new to the AAVSO then these are great tutorials to get you started.

Mentor Program

(If you are interested in volunteering as a mentor, please click here.)

Why should I have a mentor?

Julian Date (JD) Calculator and Calendars

JD Calculator


What is Julian Date?
Compute the JD or UT yourself

To convert from JD to calendar date enter the Julian Date below:

CCD Photometry Guide

The AAVSO Guide to CCD Photometry, first published in September 2014, is designed to be a basic introduction and guide to using CCDs to perform photometry of variable stars. With care, you can use a backyard telescope to obtain astrophysically useful data that matches the quality of those produced by professional astronomers, using exactly the same principles and techniques that are used at larger research observatories around the world.

Visual Observing Manual

The AAVSO Manual for Visual Observing of Variable Stars (ISBN 978-1-878174-00-0) is a comprehensive guide to variable star observing. Included is a lot of information and tips on how to make variable star observations and report them to the AAVSO.  The Manual is available online in .pdf format.  Translations of the Manual are available in several languages.

10-Star Tutorial in Arabic

Thanks to volunteer Rani Ahmed, the 10-Star Training Tutorial is now available in Arabic!

We hope that new observers will find this tutorial very useful for learning how to make their first variable star estimates. Since no prior experience is required, the 10-Star Training Tutorials are also ideal for use in schools and clubs.

In addition to the English and Arabic versions, the 10-Star Training Tutorial is available in Polish, Turkish, and Chinese. There is also a Southern Hemisphere version available in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.


AAVSO 49 Bay State Rd. Cambridge, MA 02138 617-354-0484