June 2001 Articles
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Variable Star Observing Projects
By Mike Simonsen

Deciding which stars or which type of stars to observe can be a daunting task for observers just starting out. AAVSO has a list of stars which are "easy to observe" that can be a good place to start for visual observers. http://charts.aavso.org/easystars.stm

When I started observing, my method of selecting stars was very simple. I only did stars that had reverse charts for use with my SCT. That whittled the list down considerably. Now with the untiring efforts of Charles Scovil and Marc Biesmans there are hundreds more stars that have reverse charts and revised (improved) charts. These updates now come fast and furious. http://charts.aavso.org/updates.stm

The AAVSO Bulletins include lists of stars that "need more observations". These are LPV stars that are under-observed for a number of reasons, southern declination, extremely faint minima, poor sequences or charts. There is so little information in the database that it is not possible to predict times of maxima or minma, or even the range. This seems an ideal place to look for stars if you want to make a contribution. http://www.aavso.org/bulletin/moreneeded.stm

Our vso group also has a list of these stars that are visible from Michigan, which may save you some time eliminating the far southern ones if you live north of the equator. http://home.earthlink.net/~joevp/docs/nmo_ms.htm

If you are interested in eclipsing binaries there is a very active group of observers in the AAVSO that can help you get started. http://www.aavso.org/committees/eb.stm

If you fancy unpredictable cataclysmic variables the new online Downes and Shara catalogue can be mined for targets in the range of your equipment. http://icarus.stsci.edu/~downes/cvcat/

For a list of these stars that may create a bit of a stir if they ever go pop, you might check out the BAA's Recurrent Objects Programme. http://www.telf-ast.demon.co.uk/rop.html

For CCD observers the AAVSO has a program with a limited number of targets. http://www.aavso.org/committees/ccd.stm

The Center for Backyard Astrophysics and VSNET are always recruiting CCD observers to join in their campaigns on selected cataclysmic variables. http://cba.phys.columbia.edu/


The MISAO project has over 1000 newly discovered variables that will need observations to determine type, range, etc. Here is new ground to explore. http://www.aerith.net/misao/

Mike Collins, discoverer of N Aql 01, has a list of discoveries and recoveries that are ripe for observations online at http://www.demon.co.uk/astronomer/mikes_variables.html

For those who wish to be involved in cutting edge astrophysics the GRB network may be for you http://www.aavso.org/grb/

Yes, deciding what to look at may be hard, but at least it's not because there isn't plenty to do!

Happy Hunting,
Mike Simonsen

The Warren Astronomical Society Paper
Volume 33, Number 6 June, 2001