The Director's Award

The Director's Award is awarded at the Director's discretion in the form of a plaque or other item to an outstanding observer who contributes to special observing projects or contributes to the work of the AAVSO in other ways.


2023AAVSO 112th Annual Meeting, in Somerville, Massachusetts

The AAVSO Data Quality Task Force:
   Tom Calderwood of Bend, Oregon
   Matthew Craig of Moorhead, Minnesota
   Arne A. Henden of Center Harbor, New Hampshire
   Kenneth T. Menzies of Framingham, Massachusetts
   Mark J. Munkacsy of Portsmouth, Rhode Island
   Gordon Myers of Hillsborough, California
   George A. Silvis of Bourne, Massachusetts
   Edward O. Wiley of Georgetown, Texas

with thanks and appreciation for their valuable volunteer contributions to the AAVSO and the variable star community through their work to ascertain the types of issues that impact the AAVSO's data, their quantification of said issues, and their recommendations for how they might be resolved.


2022AAVSO 111th Annual Meeting, in Tucson, Arizona

Richard L. Berry of Dallas, Oregon

in recognition of his many contributions to the AAVSO in the past few years. 


2021AAVSO 110th Annual Meeting, in Somerville, Massachusetts

Gordon Myers of Hillsborough, California


2020—AAVSO 109th Annual Meeting (virtual only, no in-person meeting)

Marilyn Averill, Alan Eisenberg, Jeanne Friedman, John Giudice, Arthur Pfaelzer, Brian Kopperl, Diogo Teixeira, of the Community Action Partners (CAP) team

in  acknowledgment of each Harvard Business and Kennedy Government Schools' Community Action Project (CAP) team member's invaluable contribution to the AAVSO during our 2020 Strategic Plan process. We are grateful for your immense contribution that helped the AAVSO determine its bright future. Congratulations, and thank you for all your hard work!


2019Kristine M. Larsen of New Britain, Connecticut

“You all know Prof. Larsen as a past president of the AAVSO. She has given multiple presentations in our meetings - she is a longtime member, exceptional educator, recognized researcher and prolific night time and day time observer. Not only is she a loyal friend of the AAVSO, she is also a vocal advocate of inclusion and diversity in science, working towards providing equal opportunities to all, in research and education. 

With this Director’s award, AAVSO HQ and volunteers want to express our deepest gratitude for her tireless work and dedication. Kris Larsen is very close to us at HQ working continuously behind the scenes, stepping in at times of need, providing guidance, support and perspective.  Kris Larsen has been, is and will be an exceptional ally, friend, teacher, mentor and a great inspiration for me. Thank you so much for all that you've done — I only hope I can follow your footsteps and do the same for someone else in the future.”



2018Dennis Conti of Annapolis, Maryland

for his excellent leadership and work with the AAVSO Exoplanet program, training observers through the relevant CHOICE course, workshops, and manuals, creating and overseeing the design of the AAVSO exoplanet database, and his continuous involvement in cutting-edge science with HST and TESS.



2017George A. Silvis of Bourne, Massachusetts

George A. Silvis received the AAVSO Director’s Award in recognition of his hard work at AAVSO Headquarters, major contributions to the AAVSO’s software and database infrastructure (including supporting and enhancing VPhot), and his continuous involvement with various key AAVSO projects (including leading the Eggen card project and the annual Transformation campaign). We celebrate his dedication to the AAVSO, we are thankful for his energy, expertise, and enthusiasm, and we present him with the 2017 Director’s award as a token of our gratitude for his commitment and dedication.


2016—No Director's award was given this year.


2015—No Director's award was given this year.


2014Kevin B. Paxson of Centerville, Ohio








In recognition of his invaluable contributions to the AAVSO through his service as Council member since 2012, major contributor to the data digitization project with over 100,000 keypunched observations, developing the methodology and standards for digitizing publications, CCD observations of legacy LPVs and CVs, AAVSO membership and services surveys, new membership and dues structures, director evaluation procedures, newsletter articles on historical AAVSO observers (and being an all-around good guy).


Geir Klingenberg of Mo I Rana, Norway

In recognition of his continued support of VPHOT, the AAVSO's key photometric analysis program.  Geir has contributed years of software design and effort into making VPHOT the premier photometric package available on the Web.  Geir has ported the program to the Cloud; has listened to both staff and members to make suggested improvements; and has been available seemingly 24/7 to correct any problems.  He has supported the CHOICE course on this program.  Somewhere in his "spare" time, he has also contributed over 17,000 photometric observations to the International Database!

VPHOT is a marvelous tool for members using AAVSOnet or their own telescopes; is quick and easy to learn; and has both written and video manuals and tutorials. Without Geir's programming expertise and insight into how observers might want to analyze their data, VPHOT would not exist today.


2013John Gross of Tucson, Arizona


In recognition of John Gross' continued support of the Sonoita Robotic Observatory, the key telescope in AAVSOnet.  John has contributed his time and money to this project, keeping the system running nearly continuously for over 8 years.  In addition, John has provided countless hours of volunteer programming time to AAVSOnet, helping many sites through the software integration process, including the two newest telescopes (OC61 and TMO61).  He is always there for any question, and has been my mentor for working on Windows computers.


2012Chris Watson of San Diego, California

In recognition of Chris Watson's work as an AAVSO Council member and his contribution of countless hours of technical expertise to the creation and refinement of VSX, VSP, and VSD.


2011David Benn of Klemzig, South Australia

In recognition of David Benn's work in porting Variable Star Astronomy (Hands-on Astrophysics) software into a modern Java tool. VSTAR became the showpiece for the Citizen Sky project. "David is the perfect example of a volunteer who brings to the table expertise not available at headquarters; devotes an enormous amount of time and effort in supporting our organization; and does this without asking for any recognition. This award is only a small token of my appreciation for his contributions."


2010—No Director's award was given this year.


2009Sebastian Otero of Buenos Aires, Argentina

Sebastian Otero


... in recognition of his unique ability to achieve high precision visual estimates and his mentoring of others to help them reach their visual observing potential, and of his contributions to reviewing submissions to the International Variable Star Index (VSX) and guiding observers through the submission process.

Patrick Wils of Hever, Belgium

Patrick Wils


... in recognition of his contributions to the field of data mining, and of his volunteer effort in support of the International Variable Star Index (VSX), including importing many published lists of stars, reviewing submissions, and acting as a mentor to observers who have discovered new variables.


2008—No Director's award was given this year.


2007—AAVSO 96th Spring Meeting in Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Vance Petriew of Saskatchewan, Canada

Director Henden presents the AAVSO Director's Award to Vance Petriew


... for his leadership of the Comparison Star Database Team, devoting numerous hours in the documentation of every comparison star currently used by the AAVSO. Vance also utilized his database skills in the creation of the Variable Standards Database, a masterful relational database of the comparison stars that can be updated in perpetuity. All the while, Vance has been a major observational contributor to our International Database, showing his enthusiasm and pursuit of all aspects of variable star astronomy.


2006—No Director's award was given this year.


2005—AAVSO 94th Spring Meeting in Las Cruces, New Mexico

Michael A. Simonsen of Imlay City, Michigan, USA

Mike Simonsen


...for valuable contributions of variable star observations during campaigns in support of professional ground-based and satellite programs, and a cumulative total of nearly 42,000 visual observations contributed to the AAVSO International Database since 1998...


2004—AAVSO 93rd Spring Meeting in Berkeley, California

Christopher Stephan of Coos Bay, Oregon

...for his dedicated contributions since 1973 to special observing programs and the AAVSO International Database, for his inspiring and mentoring of new observers, and his astronomy education efforts, particularly for young people.


Arto Oksanen of Muurame, Finland

... for his meticulous CCD high-speed photometry of objects whenever possible, providing vital contributions to special observing programs and the AAVSO International Database, and for his outreach and mentoring of new CCD observers in his native Finland.


2003—AAVSO 92nd Spring Meeting in Tucson, Arizona

Richard Huziak of Canada

...for his contribution of timely variable star observations during special observing runs with ground-based and satellite instruments and a cumulative total of nearly 25,000 since 1980, his work in the investigation of comparison and field stars suspected of variability, in helping to improve charts and comparison star sequences, and his fostering of variable star observing through his many dynamic talks to RASC Centres and other astronomy groups this past year.



Gary Poyner of England

...for his meticulous observing of variable stars (over 100,000 observations since 1991) and his contribution of timely and often critical observations during special observing runs with ground-based and satellite instruments, making immediate observations at the request of Headquarters to confirm potential discoveries, and, as Director of the Variable Star Section of the British Astronomical Association, mentoring observers, fostering productive collaborations and amity among variable star observing associations worldwide, and working to maintain and improve the level of variable star observing worldwide.


2002—AAVSO 91st Spring Meeting, Waikoloa Beach, Hawaii

William Albrecht, USA

Director Mattei and William Albrecht

Thomas A. Cragg, Australia

Tom Cragg

Rod Stubbings, Australia

Rod Stubbings

Richard E. Wend, USA


2001—Announced at the AAVSO 90th Spring Meeting in Madison, Wisconsin, but presented at the Annual Meeting in Somerville, Massachusetts

Stephen D. O'Connor, Canada

Stephen D. O'Connor

"... for providing valuable and often pivotal data during special observing runs, for his contributions to AAVSO chart work, and for maximizing the value of his observations through very careful planning of his observing program."


2000—AAVSO 89th Spring Meeting, Huntsville, Alabama

Ronald E. Zissell, USA

Ron Zissell

1999—AAVSO 88th Spring Meeting, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Charles E. Scovil, USA

"...for his tireless efforts in chart making...."

Charles Scovil


1998—AAVSO 87th Spring Meeting, Boulder, Colorado

Gene A. Hanson, II, USA

Gene Hanson

1997—AAVSO 86th Spring Meeting, Sion and St. Luc, Switzerland

Albert F. Jones, New Zealand

Michel Grenon, Switzerland

Thomas A. Burrows, USA


1996—AAVSO 85th Spring Meeting, Atlanta, Georgia

William Gregory Dillon, USA


1995—AAVSO 84th Spring Meeting, Stamford, Connecticut

John Emerson Bortle, USA

John Bortle


1994—AAVSO 83rd Spring Meeting, Houston, Texas

M. Daniel Overbeek, South Africa

Danie Overbeek