The AAVSO is building a suite of tutorials and documents aimed at those with absolutely no experience with variable stars and very little astronomical experience of any kind. These tutorials walk you through a basic concept of variable star science and then provide a list of challenges to apply the concepts.

  • 10-Star Tutorial for Visual Observations of Variable Stars - This tutorial describes the very basics of using  variable star charts, making an observation of a variable star and how to submit the observation to the AAVSO. It ends with a list of 10 stars (with charts) that are easy to observe but increase slightly in difficulty. Most of the stars are bright enough that a telescope is not needed.
  • 5-Star Tutorial for Data Analysis - This tutorial covers the basics of how to look at a light curve and what it can tell you. It includes how to plot a mean curve, understand error bars, and some basic types of analysis one can use to look for cycles (periods) in data.

If you are looking for an easy introduction to variable stars, check out our Variable Star Astronomy curriculum. It was originally written for high-school and undergraduate science classes but is also an excellent introduction for anyone who doesn't know what a variable star is. 

Other resources for new observers can be found here.