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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. The target audience for this manual are beginner- to intermediate-level CCD observers interested in learning how to perform variable star photometry and submitting data to the AAVSO. Advanced CCD users who have not done any photometry may also find this helpful.

The Guide is available in .pdf format. You have the option either to download the entire publication or individual chapters. The complete Guide is 82 pages long.

The Guide to CCD Photometry is also available in the following languages:

(Translations in progress: Persian)


February 12, 2015: This latest revsion (Version 1.1) includes corrections and clarifications courtesy of Tim Crawford and Ken Menzies.

March 3, 2015: An update was made to Chapter 6 regarding transformation coefficient subscript syntax. Thanks to George Silvis for suggesting this improvement.

January 11, 2016: Wording was improved for clarification in "Deciding how many images to make", Chapter 4, page 33. Thanks to Brad Walter for suggesting this change.

February 9, 2016: Wording was altered for definition of TRANS in "Submitting observations to the AAVSO", Appendix C, page 78. Thanks to Ed Wiley for suggesting this change.

February 26, 2016: Y-axis of residuals plot was corrected in "InfoBox 3.1 – How to determine the linearity of your camera". Many thanks to Mark Blackford for reporting this error.

March 2, 2017: Wording was improved in Chapter 4  for clarification relating to calibration images, pages 27–31 and equations in Chapter 5, page 49 were reformatted. Many thanks to Ed Wiley, Phil Sullivan & Arne Henden for proposing these changes.


AAVSO Guide to CCD Photometry (Version 1.1) (3.5 MB)

The Photometry Forum is also a valuable resource as you can use it to ask questions of other observers.

Please send any feedback or suggestions to

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