A key part of the scientific process is communication of results. First, it allows the greater community to enjoy the benefits of your results. Secondly, it allows other scientists to critically analyse your result and to reproduce it - a critical component of good science. For us, a third reason lies in the promotion of scientific literacy among the general population. Citizen scientists are often the most enthusiastic and successful evangelists of science around. They (you) can talk in a language that everyone understands and their (your) love of science becomes contagious.
Variable stars are a great topic for both entry level and advanced outreach activities. Most people aren't aware of the dynamic nature of stars in the sky, yet the activities of variables have been at the heart of some of the most fundamental discoveries in astronomy (such as the use of Cepheids as distance markers). Also, many variables can be seen with the naked eye. So it is easy for people to "practice what we preach" and see it for themselves.
Outreach at the AAVSO
The AAVSO reaches out to the public, amateur astronomers, teachers, students and professional astronomers in a number of ways. You can download presentations to use in your own meeting or star party, and if you'd like to get started in variable star observing we have a roster of mentors ready to help instruct and inspire you.
Our Presentation Library contains PowerPoint presentations on variable stars, observing techniques and other astronomical topics. These are available free to the public to use in making your own presentations. For a list of available presentations, go here.
AAVSO connects experienced observers with new observers to assist them in observing, recording and reporting observations of variable stars to the AAVSO International Database. See the Mentor Program pages for more information.