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Recruiting new observers

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roe's picture
Recruiting new observers

Tonight (Tuesday, 9/18) I will present a program on variable star observing to the Digital Special Interest Group of the Astronomical Society of Eastern Missouri. This is an active group of "pretty picture" takers who are well-equipped and enthusiastic about imaging the night sky. I hope to turn (at least some of) them away from the dark side of the force to the light (although varying) side. My main strategy is to build upon their sense of fun in things astronomic to convince them that even more fun can be had by joining our merry band and producing works of lasting value. Wish me luck!

Jim Roe [ROE]

KTC's picture
Good luck!

Good luck!

If you find a winning formula for 'conversion'...could you please pass it my way?

Thanks in advance.

Sebastian Otero
Sebastian Otero's picture
Pretty pictures turning into light curves

I think several of us have come to this point and know how difficult it is to convert them but it's woth the try!
A couple of years ago a guy that was part of a group of astrophotographers I know, became interested in doing photometry after realizing that to get those pretty pictures he was also collecting a lot of useful data. He usually took 20 to 50 exposures over several hours to get his pretty pictures of deep-sky objects.
We got together and analysed the data of the fields surrounding all those galaxies, nebulae and clusters. As a result we discovered nearly 80 new variable stars. Some looked really interesting, a lot of eclipsers, DSCT and even a flare star. The problem was that 95% of these new variables were too faint to find data for them in the surveys and I couldn't get him to go back to these fields. So they couldn't be solved. We eneded up haviong only one night of data for 80 variables. I can't find elements for most of them. Some of the DSCTs have a complete cycle and the flare star may be publishable but the rest are just eclipsers with no period or possible DSCTs or "VAR" because you see a drift in magnitude over the night (but the period is far longer).

It has its logic: he won't waste time with the same deep sky object again when there are so many others out there!!!  :(  So I hope you can take them to the other side but make them stay for a while!


Aaron Price
Aaron Price's picture
conversion rate

I've probably given 50 or so such talks and my rule of thumb is to expect around a 3% conversion rate in the audience. That is, out of an audience of 100 around 3 people may come up afterward asking serious questions about the AAVSO and start observing. But that's fine because those 3 may still be around 30 years from now! But don't sweat it if you're underwhelmed by the excitement at first. It's all about planting the seed so that it sprouts when the time is right.

Don't forget to mention the non-observing options of the AAVSO (VPhot, AAVSOnet, project volunteering, etc.) to try to recruit armchair astronomers.

Good luck!

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