Announcing the 2012 AAVSO Council Nominees

Please click on the names of the nominees to view their biographies.  All members will receive Council election ballots in the mail in early September.  Best of luck to all of our nominees!

                   * = running for re-election


Edward Guinan, Villanova, PA

      I have been an AAVSO member for over 30 yrs and have served two terms on the AAVSO Council.

      I have worked and collaborated with amateur astronomers in the US and other countries through my career.

      I have been working on variable stars and eclipsing binary systems for 40+ yrs and have published 500+ papers. One project, the study of long-term light changes of bright stars, utilizes visual magnitude measures to study possible luminosity and evolutionary changes of bright variables. My avid interest & research on variable and eclipsing binaries has lead to my election as President of IAU Commission 42 (Close Binary Stars) and IAU Division V (Variable and Binary Stars).

      If elected, I will continue enthusiastically to serve and foster closer cooperation among amateur and professional astronomers and also to improve coordination of international programs. Also I will encourage expanding AAVSO education, outreach and Citizen Sky programs and endeavoring to increase our membership to include more female, minority and younger members.

      Dr. Guinan is a Professor of Astronomy & Astrophysics at Villanova University. He is the Chair of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) Program on Teaching Astronomy for Development (TAD). In this program he has organized Astronomy Schools and Education and Outreach programs in developing countries, and Special Sessions on Variable Stars at AAS and IAU meetings.


Tom Krajci, Cloudcroft, NM

      Dad says when I was seven I wrote a letter in red crayon to Santa Claus asking for a telescope. Since then I have pursued my astronomy dreams in one way or another: visual observing, optics design, and telescope making. Building the Cookbook CCD kit put me on the path of CCD observing, and I have never looked back. Some of you may know me as Telescope Doctor – offering help to tweak goto scopes so that they perform better. I have also helped members review their images, calibration and processing technique. As time passes I repeatedly find I need to acquire new skills, and then I turn around and pass on what I've learned.

      My daytime career was as an intelligence officer in the US Air Force. If you overlook the security clearance and limited access, I was working with information, and ensuring the right people received it in a timely manner. Raw information needed analysis and correlation with various other sources so that an accurate assessment could be built. We use a similar approach in science, and in the fast-breaking world of transient event astronomy it has to happen quickly.

      Information flow is just as important to project management and governance, and it must be available, in the right amount, to all members. I want to be part of that process.

      Some snapshots of how I've lived my life - a bit more astronomy, and always lots of adventure.


John Martin, Springfield, IL

      I am a current member of the AAVSO Council and an assistant professor of Astronomy-Physics at the University of Illinois Springfield. I earned my BA in astrophysics from the University of Virginia and my PhD in Astronomy from Case Western Reserve University. I am primarily an observational astronomer with interest in hot massive stars and their evolution and extensive expertise with spectroscopy (growth area for amateur research and the AAVSO). It was my pleasure to give an invited workshop on spectroscopy at the joint AAVSO and Society for Astronomical Sciences meeting in May 2012 and a webinar on supernova impostors for Citizen Sky as part of Astro April.

      I interact regularly with amateur and citizen astronomers. I direct a community-supported observatory where community volunteers help conduct research programs. I am also an active member of my local astronomy club and run a wide-ranging outreach program through my campus observatory. Amateurs find pleasure engaging in astronomy at many different levels. At the high end, citizen astronomers play an important role in the advancement of science. I count as colleagues those non-professionals who have devoted resources to answering scientific questions and learning the craft well (as I have strived to do professionally). I have benefitted from interacting with citizen astronomers and I sincerely hope that they benefit from me also. The AAVSO is uniquely positioned to make connections between professional and citizen astronomy communities. I would be honored to continue to be a part of that as a member of the AAVSO Council.

      For more information, please visit


Kenneth Menzies, Framingham, MA

      I have enjoyed astronomy since my early teens in my backyard in Cambridge, when one could see stars as faint as 5th magnitude. Wow, is that day gone! Through mentoring from Director Margaret Mayall, I tried visual observing as an AAVSO member in the late 60s.  After a hiatus raising a family, I have become an active observer and member as a result of building a roll-off roof observatory (12.5” Hyperion, 8” SCT and STL-6303E) in the backyard. My passion for observing has since grown exponentially.

      I’ve always considered myself a scientist first, with an education in chemistry (BA, Harvard; MS, Northeastern) and a career as an environmental consultant. However, my avocation has been amateur astronomy. Scouting (Scoutmaster, Troop 21) has also been a passion for 20+ years. Kids always like to look at wondrous night sky objects when you excite them enough!

      Several interests have pushed me to observe on every clear night and gather scientifically valid data to support the mission of the AAVSO. I can’t wait to open the roof and observe short term pulsators, eclipsing binaries, CVs and asteroids. Rapid changes in magnitude have certainly caught my fancy. However, even LPV CCD observing to permit comparison of visual and standard color magnitudes has been interesting and hopefully useful. I’ve set up many target lists in CCDAP to permit efficient observing of variables in each category and managed to make about 80K observations. I’ve shared some of these lists with AAVSO friends. I’ve also managed to author or coauthor a few journal articles.

      My interaction with members at the AAVSO Spring and Fall meetings has grown into friendships and working relationships that led to active participation in campaigns on RR Lyr stars and Z-Cams. This is an area where Council action could enhance our organization’s effort to foster world-wide amateur studies.

      Attending the meetings has been a real treat, especially when held with an organization such as SAS since it provides an exceptional forum to glean new ideas for amateur observing techniques and activities. AAVSO meetings should include more such discussions of techniques. Of course, the occasional meeting overseas, such as Argentina, has also been exciting. I will always remember meeting and making friends with visual observers in South America. The southern Milky Way wasn’t too shabby either!

      Since the early GRAS days, I have helped Geir Klingenberg by QC checking new functions in our premier photometric tool - VPhot. This takes an attention to detail that I developed as an environmental chemist. I try to spread the word about VPhot and help to explain its functionality by answering support questions on the forum. As a member of the Council, I hope to continue to support this and other new observing tools. They are key resources to improve precision and accuracy in our data, and to enhance analysis.

      I conduct outreach efforts toward youth as an astronomy Merit Badge counselor and toward adults as a teacher of a basic astronomy course for seven years at a local evening school. I enjoy combining both theory and observation in our class to foster both an interest in and understanding of the night sky.  I always enjoy showing potential observers the wonders of the evening sky and helping them understand how they were formed. Our organization can do even more outreach for the novice at star parties and for the experienced observer through training classes. It’s fun!

      As a council member, I hope to continue supporting the AAVSO through regular observation, active participation in meetings and by listening to the concerns of members and being their voice in decision making within the organization.


Ken Mogul, Newnan, GA

      Ken Mogul was born in 1954 in Boston, MA. He speaks English and French and has an MBA from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. He has been an an active AAVSO member and high level financial supporter of the AASVO for several years. With the help of the mentoring program at AAVSO, he began doing variable star observing at GRAS (iTelescope). He wrote and produced the tutorial for VPHOT, has been active in the mentor program, has helped digitize historical observational data and created fields of view for CCD observers to use, which contain multiple scientifically interesting targets. He is an AAVSOnet quality control advocate. His activities and support of the Citizen Science movement have been noted on podcast interviews such as Slacker Astronomy, and in an article in Sky and Telescope. In 2010 he and Dr. Doug Welch partnered with AAVSOnet on a three year project to answer important unresolved questions about Type 2 Cepheids. Though a purely CCD observer, he supports and admires the visual observing program very much, and only wishes he could participate. He enjoys playing piano and his two dogs. He will soon relocate from Newnan, GA to Naples, Florida.


Kevin Paxson, Spring, TX

      I am Kevin Paxson and I am running for the AAVSO Council. I am 55 years old, reside in Spring, Texas and am a semi-retired geologist. I have been an AAVSO member since 2002. I observe visually and use remote telescopes for CCD photometry, observing Mira’s and cataclysmic variables.

      I have recently become more active in the AAVSO. I worked with Aaron Price on the AAVSO 2011 Demographic and Background Survey and generated the worldwide AAVSO Google Maps. I organized and reported on the results of the 2012 AAVSO Strategy and Operations Survey. I have also captured pre-1911 observations for entry into the AAVSO database, with over 54,000 archival observations submitted to date.  I have also authored or co-authored three papers in the JAAVSO.

      I have the time, desire and dedication to help improve the AAVSO. I think that the AAVSO should be run like a business, embracing change and innovation and diversifying our sources of revenue. I believe we need to actively manage the development of our observers, from beginner through expert, providing guidance and scientifically meaningful projects for both visual and CCD observers. I wish to see improved AAVSO to observer relations. I also believe that the AAVSO should work and collaborate with other international organizations more closely to promote and advance variable star science worldwide. The AAVSO truly needs Council members who are willing to work all year round to solve problems for the organization, not to just merely meet a few times a year. Thank you.


James Roe, Bourbon, MO

      My amateur astronomy career is quite typical – fell in love with the beauty of the stars as teenager, couldn't afford a telescope at first so made a couple of mirrors. Held all officer positions in home astronomy club, observed all the Messier objects, supported outreach star parties, traveled to four Solar eclipses. More advanced, discovered 102 asteroids before large surveys picked off the low hanging fruit (ie, brighter than 19th magnitude), moved on to variable star measurements with tens of thousands of measurements in the AAVSO records, currently operate semi-automated telescope/camera system in my backyard observatory producing hundreds of measurements most clear nights.

      Experience more pertinent to serving as an AAVSO council member: co-chaired an international convention and meeting of more than 5,000 participants, managed four regional conventions for the Astronomical League, managed an international minor planet amateur/professional workshop, founded a not-for-profit organization that sponsors an astronomy club that has grown to 75+ members, developed a public/private relationship for a public astronomy site with 14-, 16- and 32-inch telescopes. As an executive, I've learned well the need for a supportive and responsive board (or council).  Even more pertinent to the job, I have discovered that I am a sort of "everyman." By that I mean if there is something I am not comfortable with, or understand, about the AAVSO and its operation, there are lots of other folks with the same feelings. I am never afraid to ask the "dumb question." I listen well. You can be assured that I will be especially responsive to your concerns and the well-being of the AAVSO, now and for the future.

      For more information, please visit


Donn Starkey, Auburn, IN

      Donn Starkey has been a member of the AAVSO since 1999. His interests in astronomy revolve around the CCD observations of extrasolar planets, eclipsing binaries, cepheids, minor planets and cataclysmic binaries. Donn joined “Arne’s army” of fledgling photometers through internet contacts in the late 1990’s, which subsequently lead to Donn’s association with the AAVSO.  But it was the outburst of WZ Sge in 2001 that really opened his eyes to the power of the AAVSO as a scientific leader in variable star education and the premier repository of variable star information. Donn is a current council member and serves on the AAVSO Education Committee. He has also been a guest lecturer for the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii. Since June of 2007, he has assisted at Mary Kadooka’s HiSTAR astronomy education camp either through providing remote observing facilities or working 1-on-1 with students. Donn received his BS in Chemistry/Biology from Manchester College in 1974 and his Masters of Science in Astronomy from Swinburne University in 2007. He operates the DeKalb Observatory, MPC H63, and has authored or contributed to more than 40 papers in the field of variable star astronomy. He was an active contributor to the passage of a 2008 ordinance that mandated full cutoff lighting for all county lighting fixtures within DeKalb county Indiana. Donn is the retired president of Star Technology, Inc. in Waterloo, IN. Star Technology manufactures ultraviolet light curable polymers used in the medical and electronics industries. He and his wife, Connie, reside in amidst the corn fields outside Auburn, IN.