Amateur Observing Patterns and Their Potential Impact on Variable Star Science


Matthew R. Templeton

AAVSO, 49 Bay State Road, Cambridge, MA 02138

Presented at the 100th Spring Meeting of the AAVSO, May 23, 2011; received February 13, 2012; accepted February 14, 2012


In this paper I highlight some trends seen in amateur observations submitted to the AAVSO over the past fifty years. Some systematic trends are noted in both the amount of data submitted and the frequency with which stars are observed. Two trends are evident: the decreasing number of days per year when individual stars are observed, and the overall decreasing number of visual observations submitted. The former is shown through an analysis of data submitted for a number of subclasses of cataclysmic variable, while the latter is generally evident across all variable star types through our overall annual totals. A decrease in nightly coverage may impact the kinds of science that can be done with AAVSO light curves. The decrease in visual observing may result in a loss of long-term coverage that impacts the usability of long-term light curves. I discuss possible impacts on the kinds of science that can be done with AAVSO data and long-term light curves, and suggest ways to address this issue.