American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO)
Mon, 04/13/2015 - 01:49

I applaud the new "Data Usage Reports" that the AAVSO has started sending out recently. As an old fashioned visual observer, dealing with the cold in winter and the bugs and humidity in summer,  I am glad to see that the data I send in is actually being looked at, and not disappearing down a black hole.

The only quibble I have is that I am not sure what some of the cryptic abbreviations in the usage report mean. For example:

What does "# obs." refer to exactly?

For users, what do "Pro", "Am", and "Stu" mean?

Same question for "Analysis", "Figure", and "Obs.Run", in the "Purpose" column - - what are they referring to?

If it was up to me, every usage report would have a brief explanation of what the abbreviations mean. Otherwise, they are great.

Keep up the good work!

- - Conan

Data Download form data

Hi Conan,

Thank you for the compliments of the Data Usage Reports -- I was happy to launch that feature for the observer community recently.

On the Data Download webpage, we ask data requesters to provide some information about themselves and how they plan to use the data.  We ask that for several reasons, including wanting to know how diverse our research community is and whether we're providing people what they need.  We also ask for some personal information in case we discover issues with a data set during validation, and want to contact data users about it.  The form data is all voluntary, so we don't have it for every download, but it is often filled out, at least in part.

Those fields you see in the Data Usage Report are:

  • "# obs." -- number of your observations that were in the data set [taken from the data set itself]
  • "Pro/Am/Stu" -- whether the person identifies as a professional astronomer, amateur astronomer, educator, or student (or "Other") [taken from the download form]
  • "Purpose" -- how they're using the data: for "Data Analysis", "Scheduling an Observing Run", making a "Figure for Presentation or Paper", for "Education and Outreach", or "Other" [taken from the download form]

Thanks again for your comments, and for your observations!


Subscription instructions

Hi Gary,

After you log on to the website with your username and password,

  1. At top right, click "My Account"
  2. At top, click "Email Settings"
  3. Check the box to the left of "Data Usage Reports"
  4. At bottom, click "Save"

That's it.  They run weekly, so you should get your first report next week.


American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO)
Thanks for fast turnaround!

Matthew -

Thanks for the quick response on my questions. I suspected that is what the abbreviations meant, or something like it, but I'm glad I know for sure now, and I appreciate your taking the time to write such a detailed and complete explanation. 

Thanks again,

- - Conan 

American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO)
Very cool feature.   I was

Very cool feature.   I was noticed it in the e-mail options awhile back and checked it, not expecting to ever get any e-mails.  To my utter surprise, I've gotten several!  It actually has spurred me on to start making observations again after having dropped off for a bit.

--Michael in Houston (RMW)

American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO)


I too was a little taken back by the number of downloads for stars that I practically forgot that I observed in the past.  Glad to see that data is being used.