The future of variable-star observing

American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO)
Sun, 02/12/2023 - 18:40

     I noticed this past week on astro-ph a review paper by Marcio Catelan on the current state and future of photometric surveys of variable stars:

Stellar Variability in Ground-Based Photometric Surveys: An Overview

The discussion here has (in my opinion) direct bearing on planning for the future of the AAVSO, including its organization, curation, and aims.  It has been clear for some time that the original scheme promulgated by Pickering, Campbell et al needs considerable revision, and that council should address this, lest the AAVSO get left behind by the changes outlined by Catelan.


American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO)


You'll be happy to hear that the AAVSO is working to address these specific issues. During the November 2022 Annual Meeting I announced that AAVSO will be hosting a workshop at the American Astronomical Society 242 meeting in Albuquerque NM this summer to address many of the concerns expressed in the paper above.

We'll be posting more information about this on the main AAVSO website soon. For now, here is the title, organizers, and abstract.


Small Ground and Space Telescopes in the New Era of Big Telescope Surveys

Hybrid American Astronomical Society workshop, Albuquerque, New Mexico, June 3/4, 2023


Brian Kloppenborg, American Association of Variable Star Observers, 

Russell Genet, California Polytechnic State University, 

Rachel Freed, Institute for Student Astronomical Research,


The era of big-data surveys by a few, large, well-funded, ground and space telescopes is upon us. Gaia, TESS, and the Vera Rubin Observatory immediately come to mind. What, in this new era, will be the roll of the numerous small ground telescopes, as well as the growing number of small space telescopes? How, in the future, could these smaller telescopes best contribute to science? Small robotic ground telescopes, up to 1-meter in aperture, are now produced in quantity. Although small, general-purpose space telescopes are yet to be produced in quantity, this seems likely before the end of this decade. Many of the observational areas where small ground telescopes predominated in the past—such as variable star astronomy, transient event discovery, and asteroid tracking—will now be shared with the firehose of fully automated observations spewing forth from the large survey telescopes. This two-day AAS Albuquerque workshop will explore the capabilities, limitations, and gaps of both the large survey telescopes and the small ground and space telescopes. The workshop will also consider how these observational resources could best complement each other. Talks will be followed by working sessions to explore opportunities for cooperative research. The workshop is open to professional researchers, educators, students, and citizen scientists. If interested in attending either in-person or online, please contact any one of the organizers.