I am so excited to welcome you to the new Visual Observing Forum. This has been a dream of mine (and Sebastian Otero's) for about 7 months. I am somewhat using my 20/20 Vision Team Forum from the Citizen Sky program as my template.
First of all, I want you to feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any personal inquiries or comments. I love hearing from people, especially in a positive nature. However, most o our communication can go directly through the Forum itself. I have several others that are my assistants as moderators, so they will be adding a lot to this forum.
Sebastian's and my vision for this (and Aaron Price) is to rally the visual observing troops and get excitement flowing in our veins once more that our visual observations are being used buy AAVSO and the scientific community. Remember, most people start out observing variable stars visually. Some move on to other more technological savy observing, but some of us will stay visual observers. We definitely have our place in the AAVSO. Let me make it clear that Arne and the HQ staff have made it very clear that they are behind us. I want to make it clear that all AAVSO observers are part of a team, whether visual, CCD, PEP, DSLR, etc. We are a family and we will keep this concept of a team and a family throughout this forum.
From time to time, Sebastian, Mike Simonson, myself, or a few others, will post messages on this forum. My goal is training/educating on how to observe. I also will be suggesting stars that are many of my favorites to observe. There may be some in a special campaign. Sebastian may add stars that are in the southern hemisphere far to south for even me in Florida.
I see some real potential to work with the Young Stellar Object group (YSO). the Cataclysmic Variable Star group, and we are going to try to stretch our visual observing by observing Long Period Variable Stars in the thick of the Milky Way.
I am going to get a list of the YSO stars from Michael Poxon's web site out of the UK. I am going to limit the stars to the 14th magnitude minimum range. I am going to communicate with Michael and get his suggestions on stars to observe visually. His web site is
I have thought that this would be a great place where we visual folks can contribute.
As many of you know, my special area of interest are visual eclipsing binary stars. I will incude some of these from time to time.
Please let us know if you have large telescopes that can go fainter than 14th magnitude. My largest scope is a 14 1/4 inch reflector. Some of you may have big Dobs. We can always go to stars of dimmer magnitude. We will also discuss naked eye stars.
So, come join us and let's have fun with this new Visual Observing Forum. Everything we need for visual observing can be accessed from the AAVSO web page. Thanks and looking forward to some fun as a team.
Chris Stephan SET
Robert Clyde Observatory
Sebring, Florida USA
Chris has asked me to compile a list of some YSOs suitable for moderate scopes (and skies... I do observe from the UK after all!). I've sent him a list, which will probably appear on the forum soon.
Nice to join the forum; as a purely visual observer, I aim to contribute!
I'm glad that part of your initiative is finally coming true.
This will surely be a nice place to share information, questions, discuss observing techniques, suggest targets and anything that is visual related.
Now we have a lot of forums with very specific topics, so it is important that we stay focused.
I am surely going to suggest some easy stars for newcomers from time to time and some challenging targets for the more experienced. You know that many eclipsing binaries without period may benefit from visual observations so I am also going to put some on the spotlight.
So I hope this forum will be successful.
Foremost, A huge Welcome to visual observing of Variable Stars... this is a fun activity and not very complex, but you have to understand that available comp stars for a specific target are, among other issues, dependent upon them simply being available within a specific fov. Generally not an issue with fainter stars but some times the really bright stars, like Gam Cas, have to have a really large fov to encompass potential comp stars.
To be specific for your questions you need to check out page 12 of the 10 Star Training Tutorial, which is a great way to get started with visual observing. Page 12 contains the chart you are seeking, and it is a giant fov, so large in fact that your best bet might be to observe this with just your naked eye:
Another place worth becoming familiar with is the Binocular Program. There are a number of charts that have been specifically created for a lot of the brighter targets in the sky:
I hope this helps you start your Variable Star observing adventure and just remember that there is no such thang as a dumb question.
Tim Crawford, Sequence Team