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CHOICE Course Schedule for 2017

For non-members, the CHOICE course participation is $50 USD. To register, please click on the Pay Now button below each course you would like to take.

April 3 - 28

CCD Photometry (Part 2) - REGISTRATION CLOSED
Instructor: Phil Sullivan

This course will use the second half of the AAVSO Guide to CCD Photometry and will cover topics including optimal image photometry settings and techniques, and basic error estimation. We'll also discuss how to plan an observing run to optimize the scientific return of your observations.

Part I of this course is not a prerequisite, but is very strongly encouraged for new CCD photometrists. Students will need their own image processing software, and should have their own CCD/telescope ready to take science frames. Also, since students will determine the transforms for their own systems, photometric V and B filters will be necessary.

 

April 3 - May 5

Photometry Using VPhot - REGISTRATION CLOSED
Instructor: Ken Menzies

This course is designed to teach observers how to use VPHOT, the AAVSO’s cloud based photometry reduction software. You will learn how to upload and manage your image files, how to perform photometry on single images and time series, how to save your analyses and how to submit your results to the AAVSO. You do not have to own a CCD or have your own images. Sample images will be provided.

An extra week has been added to this course in order to add transformations to the curriculum.

You must successfully complete exercises and weekly quizzes as well as a final examination to pass the course.

This course is only available to AAVSO members. If you would like to join the AAVSO click here.

 

May 8 - June 2

How To Use VStar - REGISTRATION CLOSED
Instructor: JoDee Baker-Maloney

This course is intended to provide participants with a systematic coverage of VStar's current functionality, an appreciation of the ways in which it can be extended, and how it can be used for variable star data visualization and analysis.

You’ll learn how to create mean plots, phase plots, and perform simple period analysis. This is not a course on statistics but relevant statistical concepts as they apply to the use of VStar will be introduced through reading and discussion.

You must successfully complete exercises and weekly quizzes as well as a final examination to pass the course.

VStar is written in the Java programming language, requiring at least version 1.6 to run on Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and OpenSolaris.

 

May 8 - June 2

NEW!  Photoelectric Photometry (PEP) in the 21st Century - REGISTRATION CLOSED
Instructor: Jim Kay

This course will cover the techniques necessary for observers to produce highly accurate variable star observations using single channel photometric photometry (PEP).  We will cover the history of PEP technology and its continuing relevance today, as it fills a gap left by CCD and large automated surveys for precision photometry of bright stars.

Equipment and observing techniques will be presented as well as detailed discussions of data reduction and error source identification and correction.  Spreadsheet based tools for extinction, transformation, and data reduction to the standard system will be provided for use in labs using sample observation sets.  Specific techniques applicable to commercially available single channel photometers, such as the Optec SSP-3 and SSP-5 will be covered in detail.

Although this material and the exercises will be based on PEP observations, the underlying theory is applicable to all types of photometric measures, and may prove useful to CCD and DLSR observers who desire a fundamental understanding of photometric measurement.

The course will conclude with a module on designing your own PEP observation program.  Star and observation band selection will be covered, as well as discussions on how to balance the calibration observations needed for high precision with the science observations that are the final results.

The course will use the newly created Photoelectric Photometry Observing Manual as its primary text, but will augment this material with additional readings and tools available on the AAVSO website.

You must successfully complete exercises and weekly quizzes as well as a final examination to pass the course.

June 19 - July 11

NEW!  Analyzing Data with VStar - REGISTRATION CLOSED
Instructor: Brad Walter

This course is intended for VStar users who have taken and passed the basic CHOICE VStar Course, How to Use VStar. This course assumes that you already know the mechanics of using VStar. The objectives of this course are to provide participants with a better understanding of analysing data with VStar, what you are doing when you use VStar and why it works. That means the course explores basics of underlying theory, limitations of the analysis and valid conclusions one can draw from the results and conclusions that one cannot draw from the results.  The course will also afford ample practice in applying the various analytical tools VStar provides.

This will be achieved by guided reading, exercises (both illustrative and real-world), forum discussions, quizzes, and a final exam or project. The text for the course is Analyzing Light Curves: A Practical Guide, by Grant Foster, which will be applied to the use of VStar. The book is available from Lulu.com and is required for the course (Please order your book at least 2 weeks before the start of the course.)

Discussion topics will be created in the course forum for all major course outline sections. Everyone can benefit from questions and comments in such forum topics.

This is not a course on statistics but relevant statistical concepts as they apply to the use of VStar will be introduced through reading and discussion. By necessity this course will use more math than the basic course.

 

August - Total Solar Eclipse - no classes!

September 4 - 28 PLEASE NOTE NEW DATES October 10 - November 2

DSLR Photometry - REGISTRATION CLOSED
Instructor: Barbara Harris

This course will utilize the AAVSO DSLR Observing Manual as its guide. This manual is a basic introduction and guide to using a DSLR camera to make variable star observations. The target audience is first-time beginner to intermediate level DSLR observers, although advanced observers may find the content useful as well.

 

October 2 - 27

Exoplanet Observing -  REGISTRATION CLOSED
Instructor: Dennis Conti

This course is designed to provide participants with the basics of how to conduct their own exoplanet observations. The first half of the course will cover the fundamentals of high precision photometry, as well as the various phases of an exoplanet observation. The second half will review the use of AstroImageJ (AIJ) for image reduction and exoplanet transit modeling. In addition, the future of exoplanet observing using small telescopes will be discussed, as well as ways in which amateur astronomers can contribute to exoplanet research.

The course will use “A Practical Guide to Exoplanet Observing” as its primary text, as well as a set of sample exoplanet observations, both of which can be found at http://astrodennis.com. Video modules will lead participants through each part of the course and participants will be required to take a quiz after each module.

Participants must successfully pass each quiz to successfully pass the course. A private forum will be available to participants in order to communicate with each other, as well as the instructor.

 

October 2 - November 3

Photometry Using VPhot REGISTRATION CLOSED
Instructor: Ken Menzies

This course is designed to teach observers how to use VPHOT, the AAVSO’s cloud based photometry reduction software. You will learn how to upload and manage your image files, how to perform photometry on single images and time series, how to save your analyses and how to submit your results to the AAVSO. You do not have to own a CCD or have your own images. Sample images will be provided.

An extra week has been added to this course in order to add transformations to the curriculum.

You must successfully complete exercises and weekly quizzes as well as a final examination to pass the course.

This course is only available to AAVSO members. If you would like to join the AAVSO click here.

 

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