Activities of the AAVSO International High Energy Network, FY 2008-2009
There were no amateur discoveries of GRB afterglows during the fiscal year, but there were six GCN Circulars published during the year: optical upper limits on GRB 081008 (P. Nelson, Ellinbank, Vic. Australia), upper limits on GRB 081109A (P. Nelson), upper limits on GRB 090107B (A. Oksanen, Hankasalmi, Finland), photometry of GRB 090313 (M. Nissinen, Varkaus, Finland), photometry of GRB 090424 (A. Oksanen, Hankasalmi, Finland), and upper limits on GRB 090912 (A. Oksanen, Hankasalmi, Finland). Once again, the high energy network activity was dominated by international observers: four followups were by Finnish observers (Oksanen and Nissinen) and two were by an Australian (Nelson). I note that much of the long "empty" period between April and September 2009 can be attributed in part to the short (or non-existent) Finnish summer nights.
Mid-year, we updated the system where we distribute GCN Notices from various spacecraft, and we now have the capability to distribute notices from SuperAGILE and Fermi. We currently do not distribute Fermi GBM bursts due to their large error boxes; we are working on improved filtering of Fermi GBM bursts, and hope to start distributing them in late 2009. We note that subscriptions to the AAVSO's GRB Notices is now done through Blue & Gold, and observers can modify their subscriptions at their own convenience without having to contact HQ. Observers now have full control over which bursts they receive based on time of day, declination, and satellite of origin and can now subscribe and manage multiple addresses and receive both long-form and short-form (pager) emails. Since the new system went online in April 2009, 24 observers have subscribed themselves to the pager alert system. (We do not track unsubscriptions, but that capability also exists for the convenience of the observer.)
Finally, the web pages of the High Energy network were completely revamped in late 2008 - early 2009. The content now more accurately reflects the current activities and focus of the group. The website now includes "NEWS" links for current items of interest to HEN observers and followers, as well as greatly revised E/PO content for Gamma Ray Bursts and Blazars.
Dr. Matthew Templeton, Coordinator
AAVSO International High Energy Network