Sebastián Otero

Sebastián lives in Buenos Aires, the capital city of Argentina. He first became a member back in 1998 when he found out about the AAVSO from a local astronomy club. He was a very active observer at that time although now is more devoted to data-mining and catalogue work.

Although Sebastián has been a visual observer since high school, his interest in astronomy started several years before that, when he watched Carl Sagan's Cosmos on TV. He started reading astronomy books where he learned that some stars varied in brightness, and that encouraged him to try to detect those changes visually.

Before getting involved with VSOing, he studied Communication Science, but realized it wasn't his passion. He worked as a collector of money for a local hospital for several years to make ends meet.

During his first years observing (1994-2000), he developed a method to improve the accuracy of his visual estimates, taking the color of the variable and comparison stars into account and using mainly direct vision.

His first serious project, which started back in the 90's, was making a list of all the stars visible to the naked eye (well, at least from Buenos Aires, which means mag. 5.2 or so) with their correct V-magnitudes. It was in the framework of this project that, in the year 2000, he visually discovered delta Vel's and delta Sco's variability. Since then, eclipsing binaries and Be stars have been his favourites (so it is not surprising that his favourites are DPVs, Double Periodic Variables, B stars with circumbinary disks and orbital variability including eclipses sometimes!).

Sebastian took up data-mining research after the ASAS-3 database was launched. From 2002 to 2010 you could find him working during the day and devoted to astronomy at night, analysing data, observing, and helping as a volunteer in the VSX team, Sequence Team, and the Mentor Program. 

In 2009, he received the AAVSO Director's Award (along with Patrick Wils) "in recognition of his unique ability to achieve high precision visual estimates and his mentoring of others to help them reach their visual observing potential, and of his contributions to reviewing submissions to the International Variable Star Index (VSX) and guiding observers through the submission process."

He started working for the AAVSO in 2011 as an external consultant. Currently his tasks are mainly related to VSX work. He is cleaning up VSX to get rid of the thousands of duplicate entries created by the import of several different datasets to populate the original database. He revises and updates the available information, corrects wrong identifications, prepares new lists of variable stars to import them to VSX, and adds new objects published in alert pages. He also deletes inconsistencies between the different AAVSO databases like VSX, VSD, and AID. He's one of the VSX moderators, reviewing the new stars or revisions that people submit to VSX, and helping them in the submission process whenever it is needed. In addition, he is in charge of the AAVSO Mentor program, along with the AAVSO Spanish Forum, where observers from Latin America and Spain are encouraged to participate. He also makes translations for the Spanish-speaking AAVSO community.  Occasionally he helps the Sequence Team with some southern sequences and solves some identification problems that the team members may find.

When he's not doing something related to astronomy (and he's not sleeping) you may find him in some natural reserve taking pictures of every bird he is able to detect, because he is an active bird-watcher. To find several weird species, he likes travelling all around his country when he has time, so it seems everything that is up in the sky deserves his attention! Music is also important in his life; his favourite style is female-fronted symphonic metal (bands like Within Temptation, Delain, or Stream of Passion), although he also loves the classics from the 80's (Chicago, Foreigner, Richard Marx, Scorpions, etc.). Besides music, he likes going to the cinema, and he is a fan of several TV shows, like Grey's Anatomy, Killing Eve, You, Criminal Minds, and more.

A male Ringed Teal duck captured by
Sebastian's camera on a Buenos Aires lake