American Association of Variable Star Observers

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Since its founding in 1911,[1] the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) has coordinated, collected, evaluated, analyzed, published, and archived variable star observations made largely by amateur astronomers and makes the records available to professional astronomers, researchers, and educators. These records establish light curves depicting the variation in brightness of a star over time.

Since professional astronomers do not have the time or the resources to monitor every variable star, astronomy is one of the few sciences where amateurs can make genuine contributions to scientific research.[2] The AAVSO International Database currently has over 20 million variable star estimates dating back over 100 years. The 20-millionth observation was received into the database on February 19, 2011, during the AAVSO's 100th year of existence.[3] It receives nearly 1,000,000 observations annually from around 2,000 professional and amateur observers and is quoted regularly in scientific journals.[4][5][6]

The AAVSO is also very active in education and public outreach. They routinely hold training workshops for citizen science and publish papers with amateurs as coauthors. In the 1990s, the AAVSO developed the Hands-On Astrophysics curriculum, now known as Variable Star Astronomy[7] (with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF)). In 2009, the AAVSO was awarded a three-year $800,000 grant from the NSF to run Citizen Sky,[8] a pro-am collaboration project based around the 2009-2011 eclipse of the star epsilon Aurigae.[9]

The current director of the AAVSO is Arne Henden. The previous director of the AAVSO for many decades was Janet Mattei, who died in March 2004 of leukemia.[10]

The AAVSO headquarters were originally located at the residence of its founder William T. Olcott in Norwich, Connecticut. After AAVSO's incorporation in 1918 it de facto moved to Harvard College Observatory, which later officially provided an office as the AAVSO headquarters (1931–1953).[11] After then it moved around Cambridge before purchasing their first building in 1985 - The Clinton B. Ford Astronomical Data and Research Center.[12] In 2007, the AAVSO purchased and moved into the recently vacated premises of Sky & Telescope magazine.[13]

Minor Planet (8900) AAVSO is named for the organization.[14]

Current and former members[edit]

Recorders and Directors
Presidents
Other members

The AAVSO currently has over 2,000 members and observers, with approximately half of them from outside the United States. This list only consists of those with Wikipedia pages.

Publications[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Saladyga, M. (1999). "The "Pre-Embryonic" State of the AAVSO: Amateur Observers of Variable Stars in the United States From 1875 to 1911". Journal of the American Association of Variable Star Observers 27 (2): 154–170. Bibcode:1999JAVSO..27..154S. 
  2. ^ Ferris, T. (2003). Seeing in the Dark: How Amateur Astronomers Are Discovering the Wonders of the Universe. Simon & Schuster. p. 54. ISBN 0-684-86580-7. 
  3. ^ Simonsen, M. (February 23, 2011). "20 Million Observations by Amateur Astronomers". Universe Today. Retrieved 2011-05-16. 
  4. ^ Percy, J. R.; Desjardins, A.; Yu, L.; Landis, H. J. (2002). "Small Amplitude Red Variables in the AAVSO Photoelectric Program: Light Curves and Periods". Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific 108: 139. Bibcode:1996PASP..108..139P. doi:10.1086/133703. 
  5. ^ Cannizzo, J. K. (2002). "The Accretion Disk Limit Cycle Model: Toward an Understanding of the Long-Term Behavior of SS Cygni". The Astrophysical Journal 419: 318. Bibcode:1993ApJ...419..318C. doi:10.1086/173486. 
  6. ^ Kiss, L. L.; Szatmáry, K.; Cadmus, R. R. Jr.; Mattei, J. A. (1999). "Multiperiodicity in semiregular variables. I. General properties". Astronomy and Astrophysics 346: 542–555. arXiv:astro-ph/9904128. Bibcode:1999A&A...346..542K. 
  7. ^ Variable Star Astronomy
  8. ^ Citizen Sky
  9. ^ NSF.gov
  10. ^ Williams, T. R.; Willson, L. A. (2004). "Obituary: Janet Akyüz Mattei, 1943-2004". Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society 36 (5): 1681–1682. Bibcode:2004BAAS...36.1681W. 
  11. ^ Williams, T. R.; Saladyga, M. (2011). Advancing Variable Star Astronomy - The Centennial History of the American Association of Variable Star Observers. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-51912-0. 
  12. ^ Clinton B. Ford Astronomical Data and Research Center
  13. ^ AAVSO.org
  14. ^ "(8900) AAVSO = 1995 UD2". Minor Planet Circular. Minor Planet Center. 1 May 2003. Retrieved 2012-07-14. 
  15. ^ Dorrit Hoffleit "The Maria Mitchell Observatory: For Astronomical Research and Public Enlightenment" JAAVSO Volume 30, 2001, p70, AAVSO.org where her photograph from 1930 appears.
  16. ^ AAVSO: Part Four: The AAVSO and International Cooperation
  17. ^ "John E. Bortle - 2013 Leslie Peltier Award". Retrieved 26 September 2014. 

External links[edit]