Changing Of The Guard

The last week of Arne’s tenure as Director of the AAVSO proved to be just as hectic and full as most weeks the last ten years. While he was passing on as much information as possible to new Director, Dr. Stella Kafka, about the inner workings of the AAVSO, there was a major snowstorm, Arne celebrated his birthday, the staff held a brief ceremony to unveil the new portrait hanging in the foyer, and hosted a retirement party for Arne. Saturday the Hendens boxed up more of their belongings and carted them off to their home in New Hampshire, and Arne officially handed over the keys to the castle to new Director, Stella.

It’s been a remarkable ten years. Arne ended another era by moving the AAVSO head quarters around the corner from the Birch Street location to the new headquarters and residence on Bay State Rd. in 2007. The database was modernized and our web servers were moved to the Amazon cloud. Many new tools have been developed along the way too. The AAVSO Light Curve Generator, AAVSOnet –  the AAVSO robotic telescope network, MyNewsFlash, SeqPlot- The AAVSO Sequence Plotter, VPhot – Variable Star Photometry Software, VSP – Variable Star Chart Plotter, VStar – Variable Star Analysis Software, WebObs – Web-based Observation Submission Tool, and VSX - The International Variable Star Index.

APASS- The AAVSO Photometric All Sky Survey, Arne’s pet project and one of his most important and lasting contributions to variable star science, and astronomy in general, has not only made creating variable star charts with excellent photometry over the entire sky a reality, but it provides secondary standards for all photometrists everywhere, whether they are studying comets, asteroids or other celestial objects.

Arne has worked tirelessly for years teaching observers how to get the best science results from their CCD images and software. He has personally conducted dozens of talks on CCD photometry at meetings and conferences and held annual CCD workshops in the Boston area. Now, among his other plans Arne says, “I'd like to finish that CCD book too!”

About those future plans, Arne said, “I am not retiring from astronomy in general, nor from the AAVSO in particular.  Stella has asked me to continue my role in the technical aspects of AAVSOnet, and of course I have lots left to accomplish for APASS.  I'm looking forward to contributing as an observer on upcoming campaigns as well.”


Transitioning to new executive leadership is a milestone and opportunity for any non‐profit organization. “Stella is the ideal person for taking the organization to the next level,” says Arne of his successor. “She has the ability to work with the professional and amateur communities both.”

Dr. Kafka has hit the ground running on her first official day as Director. She has prepared a five-year plan with specific targets and milestones that will increase the AAVSO’s membership pool, ensure the Association’s financial health, expand its program to satisfy its mission, increase the visibility of its work, establish its position in the variable star research community and tighten its relationship with its members.

“The AAVSO is more than an astronomy club,” says Kafka, “It is a community of astro-enthusiasts who are curious about the mechanics of the night sky, and it is an essential support network for scientists trying to solve fundamental questions in astrophysics.”

“My vision for the AAVSO in the next ten years”, says Stella, “is for it to become the premier international astronomy STEM education and public outreach resource with worldwide recognition, and a first-class research support resource for professional astronomers.”

A new era starts today with Stella at the helm of the AAVSO.