Announcing the 2013 AAVSO Council Nominees

Please click on the names of the nominees to view their extended online biographies.  All members will receive Council election ballots in the mail before the end of August.  Best of luck to all of our nominees!

                   * = running for re-election


Bill Goff, Sutter Creek, CA

            Astronomy for me began as a sky watching teenager and included building telescopes.  Later, as an adult, I luckily met Clint Ford on one of his trips to Ford Observatory in California during the early 1980s.  While I was familiar with the AAVSO, watching Ford’s dedication and enjoyment in variable star observing was compelling and transforming.  I helped him visually verify new preliminary charts and observe faint LPVs near minimum.  I was hooked. I joined the organization, started observing mostly CVs and continued observing with Ford during his visits.  During this period, in 1985 I was awarded the E.E. Barnard Observers Award by the Western Amateur Astronomers, largely for my variable star observing and VSO presentations to the Riverside Astronomical Society and the Los Angeles Astronomical Society.  Eventually, I moved from visual observing to CCD observing, hoping to make better measurements of faint targets; quite a change.

            I’ve participated in a number of observing campaigns such as the SS Cyg and M31_V1 projects, the ZCamPaign and the HST/COS campaign.  The M31_V1 campaign was of particular interest for me.  I wrote a paper for and made presentations to the Society for Astronomical Sciences about this target in 2010.  These years of observing have resulted in over 100,000 visual and CCD observations contributed to the AID.  Recently, I acted as an on-line instructor for an early AAVSO on-line course, an experience I enjoyed a great deal.  I’ve mentored for our Mentor Program and am pleased some are now observers.  Most recently, I became host to the AAVSONet telescope, W30.  This has brought not only the challenge of getting another automated scope running but also the satisfaction of seeing it run all night imaging for member observing requests.  It captures 250-350 images every clear night and can be seen on the AAVSO website at:


You can also see other aspects of Sutter Creek Observatory on a blog I’ve begun at:


            My working career was in a state government department with a public safety mission.  I promoted through the ranks to a middle manager level and managed technology projects that involved dealing with vendors to meet state requirements with impact on thousands of employees.

            My interest in the observing has changed over the years but my interest in the value of the AAVSO has not.  My varied observing experience and background with members and staff of the organization gives me a broad view of the direction of the organization and value as a Council member.


Roger Kolman, Glen Ellyn, IL

            Roger Kolman has been an active member of the AAVSO since 1962 and has contributed nearly 80,000 visual observations to the AAVSO database. He is a current Council member and serves as the Chair of the Program Committee. As such, Roger is looking for ways to improve services to members and the astronomical community, including setting up an AAVSO Spectroscopy Program.  He is a member of the Speakers’ Bureau and has given talks about the AAVSO to many groups.

            He holds a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Illinois and has taught physics, mathematics, and astronomy at the secondary and college levels since 1967, and teacher education at the graduate level.  Currently he teaches astronomy at Harper College in Palatine, Illinois.

            For many years he has been involved with the Astronomical League serving as Vice Chairman and Chairman of the North-Central Region of that organization.  He served as National Secretary and for several years was in charge of the Member-At- Large section of the A.L.  Since 1980 he has been chairman of the Leslie C. Peltier Award Committee.  He is author of Observe and Understand Variable Stars, which he wrote as a vehicle for attracting new observers to the AAVSO. Recently, he has worked with the A.L. in developing programs linking members to the AAVSO.

Roger’s interest in being a Council member is to promote visual observing, public outreach, strengthening our existing programs, developing new programs based on current technology, and science education. He strongly supports amateur/professional interaction and cooperation.


Chryssa Kouveliotou, Huntsville, AL

            Chryssa Kouveliotou is a senior scientist for High-Energy Astrophysics at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. Her primary research interests are in gamma- and X-ray astronomy. She has been working on gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) since her Ph.D. thesis in 1978; current research projects include space and ground-based follow-up observations of GRBs, X-ray studies of X-ray binaries and soft gamma repeaters (SGRs); in 1998 she established the connection of SGRs with young neutron stars with superstrong magnetic fields (magnetars). Dr. Kouveliotou is a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and a member of the US National Academy of Sciences. She is a co-recipient of the 2003 Rossi Prize of the High Energy Astrophysics Division (HEAD) of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) and of the 2002 Descartes Prize of the European Union. She has received the NASA Space Act award (2005), the NASA Exceptional Service Medal (2012), and the Dannie Heineman Prize (2012).  In 2012 she was listed among Time magazine’s 25 most influential people in Space. In 2013 she was elected as a Vice President of AAS (2013). She has served as the HEAD Chair (2008-2010), the APS Division of Astrophysics chair (2003), and in the AAS Council. She has co-authored 392 papers and is one of the 249 most-cited space science researchers worldwide with over 26637 citations.


Kristine Larsen, New Britain, CT

Position Statement:

As a long-time astronomy educator and outreach specialist, I have witnessed firsthand the AAVSO’s significant contributions to the astronomical community. Central to the success of the AAVSO is its ability to balance a healthy respect for continuity and history with an enthusiastic desire to respond to improvements in techniques and technologies, tied together with an honest realization of the importance of recruiting the next generation of observers through citizen science, mentoring, and outreach.  Over the past 20+ years I have been fortunate to have been able to serve the AAVSO in a number of volunteer capacities, including submitting observations (mainly solar), working on the development team for the Hands-On Astrophysics curriculum, serving on the Council (1997 – 2001), writing articles for the AAVSO website, providing sidebars for the web resources of The History of the AAVSO, giving a webinar for the Citizen Sky project, and most recently helping in the VStar User Manual project. I have presented a number of papers at AAVSO meetings and published in the JAAVSO, and have utilized the Thomas R. and Anna Fay Williams AAVSO Archives for a number of my research projects. We all understand that the AAVSO is a very special organization, with a unique history and the potential for a first magnitude future. It would be a singular honor to serve on Council once again, especially during this exciting time of change and promise as we chart a course through the AAVSO’s next era.  My full resume is online:

Additional Statement:

If I am fortunate enough to be able to serve on Council at this time, I will work to provide the resources to guarantee the continued success of all AAVSO programs (including visual, PEP and CCD, stellar and solar), and serve all AAVSO members, both those who are blessed to have astronomy as their vocation and those who have dedicated themselves to astronomical work as an avocation.[i]


The next Council will have the important and difficult task of helping to choose the next Director. I have over 20 years’ experience on search committees through my university, including (but not limited to) faculty positions in physics, geology, science education, and planetary science,  and administrative positions such as Assistant Director of Admissions, Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences, Dean of Arts and Sciences, Director of  Institutional Research and Assessment, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Information Officer,  and Chancellor of the Connecticut State University System.

Additional information:

Astronomical Affiliations:

·       American Astronomical Society

·       American Association of Variable Star Observers

·       Astronomical League

·       Astronomical Society of the Pacific

·       International Planetarium Society

·       Mid Atlantic Planetarium Society

·       Springfield Telescope Makers (Stellafane)


Current Service to Astronomical Community:

·       Editorial Board, The Classroom Astronomer

·       Assistant Editor, The Reflector (Astronomical League magazine)

·       Co-chair, Stellafane Convention Program Committee


Astronomical League Certificates:

·       Messier (with honors)

·       Binocular Messier

·       Outreach

·       Meteor

Other Relevant Information:

·       Ground an 8-inch mirror and mounted in a Newtonian reflector

·       Observer Code – LKR

·       Favorite variable star – the Sun


"Flares, Fears, and Forecasts: Public Misconceptions About the Sunspot Cycle." Journal of the American Association of Variable Star Observers 40(1): 407-14, 2012.

"The Effect of Online Sunspot Data on Visual Solar Observers." Journal of the American Association of Variable Star Observers 40(1): 374-9,2012.

"Reminiscences on the Career of Martha Stahr Carpenter: Between a Rock and (Several) Hard Places." Journal of the American Association of Variable Star Observers 40(1): 51-64, 2012.

"Variable Stars and Constant Commitments: The Stellar Career of Dorrit Hoffleit." Journal of the American Association of Variable Star Observers 40(1): 44-50, 2012.

"Revisiting the Unnamed Fleming Variables." Journal of the American Association of Variable Star Observers 39(1): 147, 2011. Abstract.

 “Scientists Look at 2012: Carrying on Margaret Mayall's Legacy of Debunking Pseudoscience.” Journal of the American Association of Variable Star Observers 38(1): 139, 2010. Abstract.

"Reclaiming the Astronomical and Historical Legacy of Antonia Maury." Journal of the American Association of Variable Star Observers 37(2):198, 2009. Abstract.

"An Interview With Dorrit Hoffleit."Journal of the American Association of Variable Star Observers 37(1), 2009: 52-69.


"V1972 Cyg." Updated and revised article, American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO)  website, June 13, 2012. Available at

"V2362 Cyg." Article, AAVSO website, June 13, 2012. Available at

"Novae." Variable Star of the Season, AAVSO website, January 24, 2012. Invited article. Available at

"V382 Vel." Article, AAVSO website, January 24, 2012. Available at

"V1280 Sco." Article, AAVSO website, January 24, 2012. Available at

"KT Eri." Article, AAVSO website, January 24, 2012. Available at

Sidebars on Caroline Furness, Mary Whitney,and Dorrit Hoffleit. In official web resources for The History of the AAVSO, Thomas Williams and Michael Saladyga, Cambridge University Press.  2011.[under Resources: Further Reading]


“Monitoring Solar Activity Trends with a Simple Sunspotter.” 101st Meeting of the American Association of Variable Star Observers, Woburn, MA, November 2, 2012.

"The Astronomy of Tolkien's Middle-earth." American Association of Variable Star Observers Public Webinar, April 23, 2012.

"The Career of Martha Stahr Carpenter: Between a Rock and (Several) Hard Places." American Association of Variable Star Observers Centenary Conference, Woburn, MA. October 5, 2011.

"Variable Stars and Constant Commitments: The Stellar Career of Dorrit Hoffleit." American Astronomical Association/AAVSO Joint Meeting, May 22, 2011, Boston, MA.

"Hands-On Astrophysics -- One Size Fits All." 88th Meeting of the American Association of Variable Star Observers, Boston, MA, Oct. 29, 1999.


“Elizabeth Brown and Citizen Science in the Late 1800s.” Poster presentation, 101st Meeting of the American Association of Variable Star Observers. Woburn, MA, November 3, 2012.

"Flares, Fears, and Forecasts: Public Misconceptions About the Sunspot Cycle." Centenary meeting of the American Association of Variable Star Observers, Woburn, MA, October 8, 2011.

"The Effect of Online Sunspot Data on Visual Solar Observers." American Astronomical Association/AAVSO Joint Meeting, Boston, MA, May 22, 2011.

"Revisiting the Un-named Fleming Variables." Poster presentation, 99th meeting of the American Association of Variable Star Observers, Woburn, MA, October 30, 2010.

"'Scientists Look at 2012': Carrying on Margaret Mayall's Legacy of Debunking Pseudoscience." 98th meeting of the American Association of Variable Star Observers, Boston, MA, November 7, 2009.

"Reclaiming the Astronomical and Historical Legacy of Antonia Maury." 97th meeting of the AAVSO, Nantucket, MA, October 18, 2008


·       Council Member, American Association of Variable Star Observers, 1997 – 2001.

·       On development team for Hands-on Astrophysics

[i] I find the terms “professional” and “amateur” personally distasteful and, as was the case before the twentieth century, they increasingly do not accurately describe the sum of the productive work of the astronomical community.


Thomas C. Smith, Weed, NM

            US Navy Nuclear Power Program Machinist Mate. Left the Navy in 1987 as a Chief Machinist Mate having served on two nuclear submarines and teaching operational nuclear. Worked at the Diablo Canyon Power Plant near San Luis Obispo, California retired after 20 years of service, 10 years as a Maintenance Foreman and 10 years as a Senior Computer Applications Programmer in the Information Technology Department.

            My love for astronomy was reignited in 1989 when I joined the Central Coast Astronomical Society (CCAS) in San Luis Obispo, California. Beginning scientific research of eclipsing binary stars in 2003. Built my first observatory in 2004 and began making presentations to schools, senior’s organizations, the public and astronomy clubs along with writing astronomical papers for presentation at conferences like AAS and Society for Astronomical Sciences (SAS). Member of the AAVSO since 2007, ASP three years, SAS eight years, honorary member of the Texas Astronomical Society (TAS). I have provided mentoring to University, Junior College, and High School students in observing techniques, equipment fabrication, data reductions/analysis for presentations and publication in the JAAVSO, SAS proceedings, JDSO. I am working with students from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Cuesta College San Luis Obispo, and Maui Community College in double star observations. Assembled and operate the APASS systems at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) and at DRO in New Mexico. APASS photometry has been included in the UCAC4 catalog. I am a Chandra X-ray Space Telescope E/PO Educational Resource Agent. As a candidate for Council I hope to assist AAVSO Officers and committees by contributing my experience in robotic and remote observing, my enthusiasm to projects, drive to see STEM education in this country rejuvenated through student involvement and public outreach.


Robert "Bob" Stine, Newbury Park, CA

            I was born and raised in Southern California, USA.  My wife, Chris, and I have been married 44 years and have two daughters and five grandsons.  I received a B.S. in Physics from California State University, Northridge and an M.S. in Electrical Engineering from University of California, Santa Barbara.  In 2006, I retired from a 37-year career as an aviation flight test and evaluation engineer.  I am now a part-time consultant in that field.

            I have served on AAVSO Council since my first election in October, 2010.  I consider myself an average visual observer.  I also host an AAVSOnet telescope (BSM_Hamren), currently in commissioning.

            Besides observing, my other great joy associated with variable stars is AAVSO itself: its members and mission.  AAVSO has created and nurtured an environment where others and I feel welcomed and valued.  I see the AAVSO as a delicately balanced mix of scientific, technical, and human elements.

            While I believe that AAVSO is about variable stars, I believe even more strongly that AAVSO is about people.  Mira will continue to pulsate whether we observe it or not.  The stars don't care if we look at them, but my AAVSO friends and I care - a lot.  If re-elected to council, I will continue to do my best to focus on building and maintaining sound financial, procedural, policy, and scientific footings to keep AAVSO a vibrant and relevant organization for its membership and the scientific community at large.


David Turner, Halifax, Nova Scotia

            David Turner is a professional stellar astronomer and Professor Emeritus at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He is a 25-year member of the AAVSO and has been a member of Council for the past four years. He is a regular contributor to JAAVSO, uses AAVSO observations in his research, and makes use of the full range of astronomical detectors for his observations: CCD detectors, photographic plates in the Cambridge collection, an Optec photoelectric photometer, and unaided eye estimates from his back deck, sometimes using binoculars. One of his concerns is the lack of proper standardization for eye (and other) estimates for the brightness of small-amplitude red variables, particularly the M supergiants. His areas of research expertise lie in the study of open clusters, Cepheids, SRC variables, and the distance scale, and he has also been involved at times with eclipsing binaries and various other variable stars, several of which he discovered to be variable himself. He currently collaborates with professional and semi-professional astronomers in eastern Europe. He has served on and chaired a number of academic committees and editorial boards, providing useful experience for AAVSO council.


Doug Welch, Dundas, Ontario

            Doug Welch is an observational astronomer working in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. He has been a member of the AAVSO since he was a teenager - which was a LONG time ago!

            He has served on AAVSO Council twice in the past and was the third Janet A. Mattei Visiting Fellow in July 2010. His AAVSO-related activities in recent years include being a co-investigator on APASS and creating and maintaining an epoch-photometry database available to AAVSO members and helping to produce a publicly-available archive of APASS images served by the Canadian Astronomy Data Centre (CADC).

            He is a member of the Editorial Board of the JAAVSO and also a member of the Time Allocation Committee of AAVSOnet. His current research interests and activities include studying supernova light echoes as well as classical Cepheids, Type 2 Cepheids and RR Lyrae stars. He was a member of the Science Team of the MACHO Project and the SuperMACHO Project. He has worked with VStar creator David Benn to produce plugins for Kepler and SuperWASP data.

            He was a member of Canada's Executive Committee of IYA2009 and was the 2010 recipient of the Royal Society of Canada's McNeil medal, which is awarded to "a candidate who has demonstrated outstanding ability to promote and communicate science to students and the public within Canada (the term public is defined in its broadest sense)."