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President’s Letter – September 2019

Our annual meeting is just over a month away in Las Cruces, New Mexico. It’s a great location; the meeting should be a productive and enjoyable time together.

We’re now finalizing the agenda. I want to make you aware of planned changes in the meeting format as well as some of the key discussion topics.

The Future

For the past six months, we’ve been working on a strategic plan focused on AAVSO’s future.  The strategic planning task force has spoken with literally hundreds of people – members, non-members, amateurs, and professionals.  We’ve gained new insight into our organization and want to share this information with our members –

  • Who we are – our membership – amateurs, professionals, observers, and individuals interested in variable stars
  • The major interests of our members – why they belong
  • The future of amateur astronomy in the era of all-sky surveys and new ground and satellite telescopes
  • Potential new AAVSO initiatives 

We’re purposely presenting this information at the beginning of the meeting so members will have time to think about the ideas and discuss them with other members while in Las Cruces.  On the second day of the meeting, we will return to this subject to get your feedback and additional ideas.


One of our goals this year is to strengthen our sections, making them more valuable to our members. Currently, we have eight observing sections.  At our meeting, we’ll discuss each section’s focus areas and some of their most interesting work.  Some sections will present how their work is benefiting research. We’ll also have a breakout session where members can meet with section leaders to learn more about them and assess their interest in becoming involved. 

As a reminder, we want to start a section on instrumentation, observing techniques, and observatory operations tools.  Many members have requested this.  We are still seeking a section leader(s).

Member Presentations 

There is still time for you to prepare a paper for presentation. We hope you will share your experiences in observing and analyzing data with other AAVSO members. If you would like to present, please submit your abstract shortly.

Parallel Workshops

On Saturday we’re having parallel one-hour workshops – one for new observers and the other for experienced observers.  This is an experiment to see how the parallel workshop approach works. It may be used more frequently at future meetings.

Vote on Bylaw Update

The Council is recommending changes to the bylaws.  Per the bylaws, bylaw changes require a 2/3 vote of the members attending our Annual Meeting.

There are two key changes – the first setting term limits on Council officers and the second changing the name “Council” to “Board.”  The officer term limits are being put in place to ensure turn over for the health of the organization.  Officers are elected each year for one-year terms, with a maximum of two terms for the President, First Vice President and Second Vice President; five terms for the Secretary; and ten terms for the Treasurer.  The longer potential total duration of Secretary and Treasurer’s time in office is recommended because of the challenge of finding people with the right skills in an organization the size of AAVSO.

The second major change renames the “Council” to the “Board.” This change is consistent with other non-profit organizations and prevents confusion when we explain the role of the Board to others. Operationally it has no impact. 

We also had our non-profit lawyer review the bylaws, bringing them up to date with current Massachusetts law and making the language consistent with other non-profit organizations. A summary of these changes will be published when we post the full draft revision of the bylaws.  These changes do not affect our ongoing operations.

Election of New Council Members

Candidates for the Council were recently announced.  All voting is online; members in good standing should have received an online ballot email. If you have not received it, please check your spam folder. Let us know if you didn’t receive your ballot. You will find further information at We will announce the names of the new Council members at the end of Saturday’s meeting.

I’m looking forward to seeing many of you at the meeting.

Clear Skies!



AAVSO 49 Bay State Rd. Cambridge, MA 02138 617-354-0484