CCD Views #334

C C D V I E W S #334
April 14, 2005

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Var Her 04 Quiescent Photometry Campaign
3. Infrared CCD Filter Grants - Last Call for Applications
4. GRB Observations (And April Fools Day Allegory)
5. AAVSO/GTN Blazar and Polar List and Observing Strategy


The 3rd High Energy Astrophysics Workshop for Amateur Astronomers was a great success. Word on the grapevine is that this was one of the best AAVSO meetings in recent memory. We at HQ were particularly glad to be able to meet many new AAVSO observers and put faces to the observer codes. That is always my favorite part of the meeting. Well, that and the fact that new observers often say to me "You look much younger than I envisioned!" A little flattery will get you everywhere.

The PowerPoint presentations from the workshop will be available on our web site within a week or so. In addition, full video in glorious Quick Time .AVI format will be online in 1-2 months. There were many great talks about High Energy Network objects such as GRBs, blazars and polars. Also, Arne's Advanced CCD Photometry Workshop will be available in video. While they all will be available online, attendees will also receive DVDs of the talks and workshops.

Why is this worthy enough to take up the valuable real estate of the CCD Views "Introduction"? Because it means more work for you! The meeting was such a success that we are getting lots of questions about how to start observing all of these objects. In this issue of CCD Views we give some starting points on observing blazars and polars along with a recent history of GRB afterglow reports from network members. We also have campaigns lined up for miras, eclipsing binaries and more exoplanet work.

So lots to do in the coming months, get ready!

Aaron Price
on behalf of Gary Walker, CCD Committee Chairperson


The seasons have changed and now Hercules is among us again. This means it is time to revisit our old friend Var Her 04. Dr. Jana Pittichova is helping us observe Var Her 04 with the University of Hawaii 2.2m on Mauna Kea this Sunday, April 17. She will observe in B to filter out light from the faint red companion 1 arc second way.

From you we need time series observations of Var Her 04 mainly in V throughout the entire day of April 17. We also need baseline observations of Var Her 04 in V beginning now and lasting until May 1.

We also need one or two observers to observe in Ic on April 17th. If anyone has an Ic filter and can observe please e-mail and/or post to the AAVSO Photometry Discussion Group.

Precision is very important for this faint system. Set your exposures for an SNR of 100.

As always, we will coordinate this campaign and post updates through the AAVSO Photometry Discussion Group.

Latest Var Her 04 observations:

  APR 13.3521 <15.0    SXN  Visual        Mike Simonsen Imlay City, MI
  MAR 04.4811  16.38   JM   CCDV          Robert James  Las Cruces, NM


We still have a few 1.25" Ic and Iz CCD filters available from the grant program announced in CCD Views #330.

The Iz filters are intended for use in GRB afterglow hunting. The Ic filters are intended for use in monitoring blazars for the High Energy Network but can also be used for other variable star projects. If you would like to receive one of these filters please fill out the application at the URL below. Priority will go to those who attended Arne's CCD Photometry Workshop at the HEA3 meeting. [Link Removed] These filters were funded by a grant from the Curry Foundation.


>> Positive GRB Afterglow Observation(s):

* Congrats to Stefano Sposetti of Switzerland who successfully imaged the afterglow to GRB050319. He took 83 60-second frames to get down to a LM of 21.5 unfiltered! That is no typo, folks. 83! The afterglow magnitude was 20.5 +/-0.5 mag unfiltered. WAY TO GO, STEFANO! But remember, next time we need filtered photometry. :)

>> Fainter Than/Negative Observation(s):

* GRB050412: Peter Nelson observed the region and did not find an afterglow. Two professional observatories reported possible faint (V>21) afterglows.

* GRB050410: Arto Oksanen observed the region and did not find an afterglow. SWIFT detected an X-ray counterpart but no optical afterglows were detected by anyone.

* GRB050408: Andrea Tasselli, Dr. D. T. Durig (Cordell-Lorenz Observatory) and Bill Dillon observed the region and did not find an afterglow. Professional observatories did discover an afterglow and even got a red shift of z=1.236 for it (8.6 billion light years away).

* GRB050331 (April Fools GRB): This was announced by SWIFT on March 31. Shortly after the announcement SWIFT also reported a bright (V>13!) afterglow that saturated the UVOT. Berto Monard was on the GRB and imaged the field and reported *no* afterglow. We were nervous contradicting the SWIFT UVOT but issued a GCN anyway. A few minutes later SWIFT retracted the GRB detection and Berto's negative observation was confirmed. This was a nice example of everyone working together and why sometimes a human at the telescope is still more valuable than an automated system!

* GRB050326: Berto Monard observed the field under poor observing conditions (wind and lunar interference). An afterglow was not detected down to 18.0 unfiltered magnitude 16.5 magnitude. However, a new source of some type (new variable star?) may have been discovered in the field. XMM Newton discovered an X-Ray afterglow.

* GRB050313: Durig and Kereszty Zsolt both imaged the field. Neither detected an afterglow and neither did any other professional observatory. In hindsight this may not have been a real GRB detection.

Nice job getting on the fields and submitting your reports!


Dr. Gordon Spear (Sonoma State University) and Dr. Steve Howell (NOAO) gave exciting talks on observing blazars and polars, respectively. The AAVSO has good charts for many of these objects. Below is a list:

Blazars w/AAVSO Charts:

  3C 66A                OI 158
  OJ 287                MARK 421
  4C 29.45 (old chart)  BL LAC
  MARK 501              PKS2155-30
  W COM                 3C 279 
  S5 1803+78            S5 2007+77
  S2 2356               PKS2005-48
  3C 232                3C 371  (old chart)
  AP LIB                S2 0109+22
Polars w/AAVSO Charts:
  AN UMA                 AR UMA
  AM HER                MR SER
  QQ VUL                BL HYI
  EF ERI                VV PUP
  GQ MUS                V2214 OPH
  V347 PAV              V834 CEN
  QS Tel

Observing strategy:
- One full evening set of time series observations in V and/or Ic of a GTN object per month.
- One or two hours of time series observations in V and/or Ic of a GTN object per week.
- Snapshot observations of the other GTN objects in V and/or Ic. One observation is requested per month per object.

Also don't forget that a GTN MyNewsFlash list is setup to monitor these objects. If you want to receive data on them in a MyNewsFlash format just go here to sign up:

All charts are available at:

More info on the GTN objects can be found at:


Dr. Steve Howell has also provided us with a couple papers he co-authored about differential and ensemble photometry. Material from them will also be included in a 2nd edition of his book "Handbook of CCD Astronomy" due out this summer.

Statistical error analysis in CCD time-resolved photometry with applications to variable stars and quasars Howell, Steve B.; Warnock, Archibald, III; Mitchell, Kenneth J. Astronomical Journal (ISSN 0004-6256), vol. 95, Jan. 1988, p. 247-256.

A Technique for Ultrahigh-Precision CCD Photometry Everett, Mark E.; Howell, Steve B. The Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific Volume 113, Issue 789, pp. 1428-1435.


An archive of "CCD Views" is available at

An archive of "Eyepiece Views", a similar newsletter intended for visual observers, is available at

Good observing!

Aaron Price, AAVSO Technical Assistant (PAH)
Gary Walker, Chairman of the AAVSO CCD Committee (WGR)

Copyright 2005, American Association of Variable Star Observers