The AAVSO and International Cooperation

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Radha G. Chandra - India

From the earliest times, amateur astronomers abroad were eager to make variable star observations in cooperation with professional astronomers.

When the Variable Star Section (VSS) of the British Astronomical Association was formed in 1895, it was the first such group to use the standard sequences of comparison stars prepared in 1891 by E. C. Pickering at Harvard College Observatory (HCO). The sequences, Leon Campbell later reported, were adopted "practically in toto" by the VSS.

The earliest observations contributed to HCO from outside of the United States were made by Joao de Moraes Pereira, of St. Michael, The Azores, between 1902 and 1904. But international participation really took hold once the AAVSO was organized. Between 1911 and 1921, variable star observations were being sent to the AAVSO from at least 11 countries: Argentina, Australia, Canada, England, France, Holland, India, Italy, Japan, South Africa, and Switzerland.

Giovanni B. Lacchini - Italy

The first international member of the AAVSO was Giovanni B. Lacchini of Faenza, Italy. In his lifetime Lacchini contributed over 58,000 observations to the AAVSO. Other early international observers were: Radha G. Chandra of Bagchar, India, who made over 49,700 observations; and James Baldwin of Australia, who made over 36,800 observations.

Other productive and reliable observers from abroad during the early years of the AAVSO were: G. Ensor, H. E. Houghton, and Reginald DeKock, all from South Africa. De Kock made over 160,000 variable star observations for the AAVSO in his lifetime. Other notable international observers were: Felix de Roy of Belgium; Paul Ahnert of Germany; Bernhard Dawson of Argentina; William Waterfield and J. F. Skjellerup of South Africa; Edward de Perrot of Switzerland; Issei Yamamoto and Sigeru Kanda of Japan; M. K. Bappu, of India; and R. Domingo Taboada of Mexico.

Reginald deKock - South Africa

In the early correspondence between Leon Campbell and Henri Grouiller of France (see AFOEV below), and others, there is always expressed a mutual respect among all engaged in the observation and study of variable stars, and there is always emphasized the spirit of cooperation between individuals, organizations, and observatories, of all countries in the exchange of information that would help to further the cause of variable star research.

In this spirit the AAVSO continues its longstanding cooperative relationship with the AFOEV, and the VSS/BAA, and has, along the way, established rewarding relationships with many other institutions, variable star organizations, and individual variable star observers from around the world.

The French Connection.

Up until 1921, the VSS of the British Astronomical Association, and the AAVSO at Harvard College Observatory, were the only organized groups of variable star observers. But for several years during this time a handful of individual observers were contributing variable star observations to the Lyon Observatory in France.

Leon Campbell - AAVSO Recorder

By 1920 AAVSO President Leon Campbell was corresponding with astronomer Henri Grouiller of the Lyon Observatory. Grouiller had expressed an interest in forming an organization of French amateur variable star observers, and, possibly, a European center for collecting variable star observations. On November 23, 1920, Campbell wrote to Henri Grouiller, saying "Our Secretary, Mr. W. T. Olcott, has asked me to write you in detail concerning the activities of our Association. I assure you that it is with the greatest pleasure that I welcome the formation of a brother variable star organization in France."

Campbell was happy to provide Grouiller with any information he desired concerning the formation of such an organization, based on the experience of the AAVSO, but most importantly, to also provide Grouiller with samples of standard charts and comparison star sequences, lists of variables in need of observation, instructions for observers, etc.

S.C. Hunter - AAVSO

At this time, AAVSO founding member Stephen Crasco Hunter voluteered to go to Europe as an intermediary for Campbell in order to promote variable star observing. His primary purpose was to meet Grouiller and Lyon Observatory Director Jean Mascart, to explain the value of amateur variable star work, and to encourage the Lyon Observatory to set up an observing program. In addition to his meeting with Grouiller and Mascart in early 1921, he also had a brief meeting with Henri Deslandres, astrophysicist of Meudon, Institut de France at Paris, in the hope of spreading the word to the French professional astronomical community in support of a French amateur association of variable star observers.

In June, 1921, Hunter reported to Campbell: "I feel sure also that between your previous correspondence and my recent visit we have started something over there that, properly nurtured, may grow into almost anything, to the greater and broader glory of our modest but persistent efforts here."

Henri Grouiller - Lyon Observatory, AFOEV Secretary

The French Association of Variable Star Observers, better known as the AFOEV, was founded in June, 1921, by Henri Grouiller, Jean Mascart, and amateur astronomer Antoine Brun. Amateur astronomer Eppe Loreta, who maintained a long and productive association with the AFOEV until his death during WWII, also contributed 22,396 variable star observations to the AAVSO between 1927 and 1940.

In 1932, the AAVSO elected Henri Grouiller, Secretary of the AFOEV, to honorary membership in the AAVSO.