Online Resources for Beginning Observers

AAVSO Visual Observing Manual
This is the 'official' handbook for AAVSO observers. You can view it online or download it for FREE!

Guide to CCD/CMOS Photometry
A handbook designed for the beginning CCD and CMOS camera observers.

10-Star Tutorial
A simple guide to making visual variable star observations using ten bright stars. Northern and Southern hemisphere versions available.

Introduction to AAVSO and How to Make a Visual Estimate  (.ppt version)
This Powerpoint presentation by Chuck Pullen (also known as the "Telescope Simulator") gives a good introduction to the AAVSO and variable star observing and also lets you test your skills at making magnitude estimates.

Thanks to the translation skills of volunteers, there is also a Spanish version of this presentation available (by Jaime Garcia):
¡Aprenda cómo divertirse haciendo observaciones de estrellas variables! (.ppt version)
and a Chinese version (by Tao Fan-Lin):
變星觀測練習 (.ppt version)

Contributing to Science With Your CCD Equipment
This article published by Tim Crawford in Amateur Astronomy magazine is helpful for beginning CCD observers. (pdf format).

AAVSO online CHOICE courses
Sign up for an online course to learn more and improve your observing skills.

AAVSO Sections
Most newcomers start out as visual observers or as observers of a particular type of object, but AAVSO offers many ways to contribute to science!

Featured Variable Star of the Month

Each month, a great star to observe from the Northern Hemisphere is highlighted, and includes observing tips for the beginner, star finder and comparison charts, and links to interactive 360-degree videos!

The Variable Star Plotter (VSP) will let you create charts with comparison star sequences. If you need a more general chart which shows where variables are located within a constellation, try using one of the charts from the table below (The constellations in black are either included on another chart or do not have a chart.)

Finder/Constellation Charts
And Ara Cam Cep CMi CrB Cyg Eri Hor Leo Lyn Mus Pav Psc Scl Sge Tri Vir
Ant Ari Cap Cet Cnc Crv Del For Hya Lep Lyr Nor Peg PsA Sco Sgr Tuc Vol
Aps Aur Car Cha Col Crt Dor Gem Hyi Lib Men Oct Per Pup Sct Tau UMa Vul
Aqr Boo Cas Cir Com Cru Dra Gru Ind LMi Mic Oph Phe Pyx Ser Tel UMi  
Aql Cae Cen CMa CrA CVn Equ Her Lac Lup Mon Ori Pic Ret Sex TrA Vel  

Stars Easy to Observe
Start here and save yourself some time. These stars have been selected as being easy to recognize, and have excellent charts.

Request an Observer Code
You must fill out this form to request an "Observer Code" before you can send in any observations. The unique set of initials then issued to you for life will be attached to every observation you ever make and will become a permanent part of the AAVSO International Database.


Submitting Observations to the AAVSO
How do you submit observations to AAVSO once you've made and recorded them?


How to Refer to Stars with Greek Letter Names
The AAVSO has a standard way to do this which may not be intuitive. Please read!

About Julian Dates
Julian Dates? What are they? Why do astronomers use them? How can I figure them out? Is it complicated? Don't worry, we've got you covered.

AAVSO Software
Software for entering observations, analyzing data, solar observing, educational software - and it's all FREE! Julian Dates? Our software figures it out for you! We told you we had you covered.

AAVSO Target Tool
For more ideas on what stars to observe, try using the AAVSO Target Tool.