SLAS Regular Meeting
Friday, October 21, 2011
100 Years of AAVSO – The Role of the Amateur in Astronomy
American Association of Variable Star Observers
Stars like the Sun are, fortunately for us, fairly constant in their brightness and energy output over millions of years. But there are many other types of stars whose brightness changes measurably over a few years, months, days, or even hours. The study of these variable stars has been a major field of astronomy for many decades. Professional astronomers rely heavily on amateur observations to provide the data for their research. One hundred years ago, the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) was formed to facilitate professional and amateur collaborations and to maintain a storehouse of variable star observations. Mr. Simonsen will review the development and expansion of AAVSO during the past century, and look forward to new opportunities for amateur astronomers in the next century. He will also comment on the vital and expanding role that amateurs play in the exploration of the universe.
Mike Simonsen is the Membership Director and Development Officer of the AAVSO. He has been recognized world wide over the past dozen years as a leading variable star observer. Mr. Simonsen has authored twenty research papers on his particular interest, the study of cataclysmic variables. These are star systems that flare up at irregular intervals, return to their former brightness, then later flare up again.