History of the AAVSO


Since its founding in 1911, amateur and professional astronomers from all over the world have contributed to the success of the AAVSO. In the following pages we give you a history of the AAVSO in a nutshell, starting from the early years, and working our way through to the present by adding more pages from time to time. All of the images and much of the text you see here comes from the AAVSO archives. Through the following pages we recognize the people and circumstances involved in making the AAVSO the largest variable star organization in the world. Step back in time with us and meet the wonderfully dedicated, industrious, and enthusiastic members and observers of the AAVSO!


The AAVSO Centennial History by Thomas R. Williams and Michael Saladyga

Advancing Variable Star Astronomy: The Centennial History of the AAVSO (hardcover available from Cambridge University Press)

Advancing Variable Star Astronomy: The Centennial History of the AAVSO (kindle e-book from Amazon.com)

Errata sheet for Advancing Variable Star Astronomy

AAVSO History in Parts

Part 1 - Before the AAVSO: Amateur observers of variable stars in the United States from 1875 to 1910

Part 2 - The emergence, founding, and growth of the AAVSO: Amateur involvement in variable star astronomy from 1909 to 1918

Part 3 - The AAVSO's "Old Guard"
           - Profile of One AAVSO "Old Guard" - Charles Y. McAteer 1865-1924

Part 4 - The AAVSO and International Cooperation

Part 5 - A Margaret Mayall Centenary Celebration!
           - The Ballad of Margaret Mayall

More Historical Information

Historical publications for sale from the AAVSO

100th Anniversary and Centennial Celebrations in Review

100th Anniversary commemorative posters - The posters show portraits of the AAVSO's Directors, Presidents, Secretaries, Treasurers, Council members, and Staff from 1911 to 2011, and the top Visual, CCD, PEP, and Photographic/Photovisual observers (PDF files)

JAAVSO Article - Some Personalities from Variable Star History (pdf)

AAVSO Newsletter Article - William Tyler Olcott House — Then and Now (pdf)

JAAVSO Article - Note on a Determination of the Date of the Founding of the AAVSO (pdf)

JAAVSO Article - A History of AAVSO's Headquarters (pdf)

JAAVSO Article - The History of AAVSO Charts, Part 1: The 1880s Through the 1950s (pdf)

JAAVSO Article - The History of AAVSO Charts, Part II: The 1960s Through 2006 (pdf)

Recognition: top observers of the AAVSO's first 50 years (http://www.aavso.org/recognition)

Pictures - AAVSO meeting group pictures 1916 to the present

Pictures - Blast from the Past: the 1966 AAVSO Annual Meeting

JAAVSO Article - The Pre-Embryonic state of the AAVSO: Amateur Observers of Variable Stars in the United States from 1875 to 1911 (pdf)

Web Feature - The Clinton B. Ford Observatory is featured with scanned images of the observatory log books, as well as a history and description of the observatory, and sketches of its members and users over the years