AAVSO CHOICE Courses in Astronomy and Observing

Why take a CHOICE course?

AAVSO’s Carolyn Hurless Online Institute for Continuing Education (CHOICE) courses improve participants’ astronomy skills in observation, analysis, research, writing, and advocation. Skills developed through each of these informal online courses increase your data collection accuracy, help make your time observing more enjoyable, and enable astronomers and researchers to best utilize AAVSO data.

How/where do the courses take place?

Courses are primarily conducted in the AAVSO website forum, where the instructor posts reading material and quizzes, and where written class discussions take place. This is an internationally-friendly format: while there are deadlines for assignments, you can otherwise participate in your own time from day to day.

In rare cases, the instructor will point to material elsewhere, or conduct live Zoom sessions. Courses in which the instructor uses Zoom are noted in the calendar below. 

Course descriptions and prerequisites 

Whether you are an AAVSO member or not, you can take as few or as many CHOICE courses as you like. Courses range from introductory to advanced, and cover a variety of topics. Students earn a pass/fail assessment at the end of each course.

Descriptions are here, or by clicking the name of the course in the below calendar.

Time allotment

Participants devote anywhere from 8–20 hours per week reading, participating discussions, and completing quizzes and exams. Unless otherwise noted, courses are four weeks long. 

To start a course

Once you enroll (see the calendar below), you will receive an email from eowaagen@aavso.org the Friday prior to the course beginning, with information on how to access the course and participate. 

If you have general CHOICE questions that are not about the course material, or if you do not receive the email by the end of the day (in ET) on the Friday prior to the course starting, please email eowaagen@aavso.org.  

2024 Courses and Registration

Each course is $35.00 for members, or $60.00 for nonmembers. You must be logged in to your AAVSO account at time of purchase. Not a member? Become a member prior to course registration to receive the member price!

Important Note => A course's registration opens on the first Tuesday of the month prior to the course starting (example: enrollment begins on Jan. 2nd for the course that begins on Feb. 5). Please click the respective "purchase" button below to register and pay for a course. (If a purchase button is not under the course you want, its registration is not currently open.)

   Please note there will be a NEW COURSE in 2024 on Observational Best Practices, taught by Dr. Arne Henden June 24 - August 4. It is on the shedule below.

                                                               2024 Schedule

February 5 - March 11 (6 weeks)
Advanced Use of AstroImageJ for Exoplanet Observing

Instructor: Dennis Conti
Features Zoom discussions:
Mondays 7:30 p.m. EST
(Tuesdays 0030 UT)

course completed for 2024

March 11 - April 21 (6 weeks)
CCD Photometry, Parts 1 & 2

Instructor: Ed Wiley

course completed for 2024

April 29 - May 26
Variable Star Classification and Light Curves

Instructor: Blake Crosby

course completed for 2024

May 27 - June 21
How to Use VStar

Instructor: Aritra Das

enrollment closed


          *** NEW COURSE ***

June 24 - August 4 (6 weeks)
Observational Best Practices

Instructor: Arne Henden

Class is full - enrollment closed


August 5 - August 31
Developing a Visual Observing Program

Instructor: Mike Poxon

         enroll (register)

September 2 - September 29
Observing and Counting Sunspots

Instructor: Raffaello Braga


September 30 - November 3 (5 weeks)
Photometry Using VPhot

Instructor: Ken Menzies


11 Novembre - 7 Décembre
Classification des étoiles variables et courbes de lumière

Instructor: Jean-Bruno Desrosiers


Want to become a CHOICE course instructor?

Courses are peer taught—graduates of one course have the opportunity to lead the next iteration of that course. Learning occurs best when done collaboratively, and for many, the best way to learn is to teach. Those who lead a course receive any subsequent CHOICE course free of charge, and an instructor status symbol on their AAVSO profile for each course taught.  

Instructors can always get assistance from AAVSO staff, and use the course syllabi and any other course-related materials. AAVSO staff take care of the technical issues (registration and forum set-up), while the instructors guide the students through the course and perform assessments.

Contact Elizabeth Waagen at eowaagen@aavso.org to discuss this opportunity.


About Carolyn Hurless

Carolyn J. Hurless, the most active and prolific female observer in the history of the AAVSO, recorded a total of 78,876 visual observations for the AAVSO International Database (AID). She also led a remarkable career as an AAVSO observer, councilor (board member), officer, mentor, and advocate.