The Merit Award

The valuable data processed and distributed by the AAVSO to astronomers throughout the world are obtained from volunteer observers. Their constant watch over variable stars is a satisfying activity which results in a genuine contribution to astronomy. There are many observers whose contributions to the AAVSO have gone beyond observing to other activities as well. The Association shows its gratitude to such individuals by presenting them with a Merit Award, an illuminated scroll and citation listing their contributions. This award is presented to any member who, by majority vote of the AAVSO Board/Council, is deemed to have made an outstanding contribution as an observer, or as a long-standing benefactor. The following is a list giving the names of the AAVSO Merit Award recipients together with the citations inscribed on their award.

More than one award or no award may be made in a year.

54. 2023 - George A. Silvis recognition of the many ways that George has contributed his time over the years towards furthering the AAVSO.  Not only is he an optical and SID observer, but also is a resource person for the Instrumentation and Equipment Section, has served on the Data Quality Task Force, spearheaded the Eggen Card Project, is one of the key persons in the maintenance of VPhot, has written the Transform Applier application, updates the AAVSOnet software and web pages, and has ported the Target Tool to our servers.  In fact, there is very little of the AAVSO computer infrastructure that has not seen George's guiding hands.  It is rare to find such a willing, unassuming, capable, and essential member of our community, and one so well-deserving of this award.

citation photo coming      clock photo coming

53. 2022 - Franz-Josef Hambsch recognition of his energetic participation in professional-amateur research collaborations on projects that have included cataclysmic variables, young stars, binary stars, and white dwarfs. He is one of the AAVSO's most prolific photometry observers, with over 6 million CCD multicolor data points to his credit. As a co-author on over 100 papers, he is a stellar example of the contribution that amateur observers can make to astronomical research.

52. 2021 - Rod Stubbings recognition of the phenomenal visual observing program he has conducted, providing researchers with many time-critical observations and alerts, and contributing 316,292 visual observations to the AAVSO International Database from 1997 through October 4, 2021. His work has also been recognized with the AAVSO Director’s Award in 2002 for his “very significant contributions to variable star astronomy, particularly to special observing programs” and the Astronomical Society of the Pacific’s Amateur Achievement Award in 2014.

2020 - (Online Meeting; no awardee)

51. 2019 - Patrick Wils recognition of his volunteer work for AAVSO through supporting the International Variable Star Index (VSX). Patrick imported many published lists of stars into VSX, mentored amateurs who identified new variable stars, and reviewed new submissions.  He also provided enhancements to VSX and developed numerous Application Programming Interfaces for AAVSO software.  Patrick has been a member of AAVSO for 16 years.

50. 2019 - David Benn recognition of his devoted service to AAVSO.  David contributes thousands of hours to AAVSO, particularly through his work on VStar. VStar is used extensively by the AAVSO community to analyze light curves.  In 2008 David began developing this sophisticated program, creating a powerful data visualization and analysis tool used by both amateurs and professionals.  He continues to support the community by responding to user questions, teaching CHOICE courses, and enhancing the program to meet new and evolving user requests.

49. 2018 - Barbara G. Harris recognition of her years of dedicated service to the organization, selflessly contributing in numerous ways, including as a member of Council and multiple Committees, mentoring fellow observers, teaching the CHOICE course in DSLR Photometry, submitting over 38,000 variable star observations using multiple techniques, and in particular her valuable contributions to observing campaigns, including her discovery of the January 28, 2010, outburst of U Sco.


48. 2017 - William Goff

...for his important visual variable star observations made in service to the AAVSO chart sequences program, his dedicated service as a local steward of the Clinton B. Ford Observatory on Mt. Peltier, his careful oversight of and assistance to the Association through serving as its Treasurer, and his significant contribution of over 186,000 CCD variable star observations to the AAVSO International Database, especially those made in response to AAVSO Alert Notices.

47. 2016 - Kenneth T. Menzies
...for his devoted service to the AAVSO as a meticulous and prolific observer, contributing more than 250,000 CCD observations; his outstanding commitment to improving the quality of all AAVSO data through mentoring new observers; his financial and intellectual contributions to the VPHOT Software team; and his thoughtful instruction of multiple VPHOT CHOICE courses. Kenneth has been an active member of the TG/TA Transformation team and the AAVSONet Task Force, a volunteer image inspector in AAVSONet, and a patient, thoughtful and ever-present resource on many forums, especially the VPHOT forum.

46. 2015—Richard Berry
...for his tireless devotion to the support of the amateur digital imaging and photometric communities, from the pioneering CCD Cookbook Camera (the first camera for many AAVSOers), the immense Handbook of Astronomical Image Processing, the acclaimed software package AIP4WIN, his support of AAVSOnet with the funding of a Bright Star Monitor system (BSM-Berry), his CCD workshops at Pine Mountain, to his many donations throughout his AAVSO membership. (image of certificate)

45. 2014—Ronald E. Royer
...for his devoted service to the AAVSO, including over 60 years of membership; contributing nearly 10,000 mostly visual variable star observations; four years as Councilor; meticulous, enthusiastic participation in countless special observing programs and campaigns; contributions to the AAVSO Charts program, including expert photographic survey and field work on faint stars being added to the AAVSO program and creating or sky-checking sequences; stewardship of the AAVSO's Ford Observatory atop Mt. Peltier; decades as group photographer at AAVSO meetings; and mentoring new observers and performing public outreach.

44. 2013—Gary W. Billings recognition of his faithful membership and service to the AAVSO as Treasurer, Councilor, financial consultant, mentor to new Council members, and Co-Chair of the Eclipsing Binary Section; his dedication as a careful and prolific CCD observer particularly of binary stars; his key contributions to international observing campaigns; and his scholarly contributions on cataclysmic variables and binaries. [presented at the 2014 Spring meeting 14 June 2014]
(image of certificate)

43. 2012—Gerald P. Dyck
... in recognition of his faithful membership and meticulous observing since 1978 resulting in over 158,000 variable star observations, his enthusiastic participation in countless observing campaigns, his mentoring of new observers, his unique contribution to the AAVSO's 75th Anniversary through his composition of the multi-media song cycle "Images and Variations," and his ongoing and dedicated educational outreach to the community and particularly to children through volunteer classroom and hands-on astronomy teaching and through musical composition including "The Ancient Face of Night." (image of certificate)

42. 2009—Lewis M. Cook
... in recognition of over 35 years of dedicated service to the AAVSO as variable star observer, contributing nearly 160,000 observations, including timely observations of campaign stars; Council member and officer for 11 years; developer of observing tools and software, and a leader in the development of CCD observing standards and practices; and for his generous spirit and tireless enthusiasm for observing variable stars which have earned him the respect and admiration of astronomers around the world. (image of certificate)

41. 2008—Albert F. Jones
"... for his dedicated contributions to variable star astronomy for over 60 years, including over 500,000 visual observations of SouthernHemisphere stars, providing decades of uninterrupted coverage; contributions to Southern comparison star sequences; research collaborations with professional astronomers, providing valuable data and insight into target variable star behavior; sharing his meticulous observations with the Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand, and with the AAVSO for worldwide distribution; mentoring countless new observers, particularly in New Zealand, with good humor, patience, and grace; and inspiring variable star observers worldwide. "

40. 2008—Lee Anne Willson
"... in recognition of her years of leadership as AAVSO President and Council member; her seminal research into the nature and evolution of Mira and semiregular variable stars, including the use of AAVSO data and encouragement of amateur observers; her service as ambassador between the professional and amateur variable star communities; her inspiring education of students and the public; and her support, counsel, and collaborative research with AAVSO directors and staff."

39. 2007—Gerard Samolyk
"... in recognition of his over 32 years of devoted service to the AAVSO as variable star observer, particularly of eclipsing binaries and RR Lyrae stars, contributing over 150,000 observations; Council member for four years; member of the Eclipsing Binary and RR Lyrae Committees for nearly 30 years and developer of observing techniques, data collection methods, and analysis processes for these stars; preparer or co-preparer of thirteen AAVSO publications and 30 years' of ephemerides on these stars; and his continual encouragement to other variable star observers."

38. 2006—Louis Cohen
"... in recognition of his outstanding service as Treasurer and as a trusted, steady advisor to the Directors throughout a period of fiscal and administrative uncertainty; and his guidance in reinvesting and restructuring the AAVSO's endowments, assuring the Association's financial security. His excellence in service, volunteerism, willingness to share knowledge and mentor observers, and his valued observations exemplify the ideals of the AAVSO."

37. 2005—Martha L. Hazen
"... in recognition of her outstanding service to the AAVSO during many years as Councilor, President, and Secretary, recognizing that she always reflected wisely on the long-term needs of the association and its members and offered sound counsel, especially to the presidents and the Director, and technical support to AAVSO observers while assisting in many other ways."

36. 1995—Thomas R. Williams
" recognition of his strong and dedicated leadership as AAVSO President and Council Member, his extensive research into the history of amateur astronomers' contributions to astronomy and the AAVSO, and his support of and many contributions to the goals of the Association, including his tireless and productive efforts as Chair of the AAVSO Futures Study Group."

35. 1993—John R. Percy
" recognition of his service as Council Member since 1982; as President from 1989 to 1991; his significant contributions to the AAVSO Photoelectric Photometry Program, including ten years as Editor of its Newsletter; as Co-Editor of the Proceedings of the First AAVSO European Meeting; and his tireless promotion of variable star astronomy and the AAVSO in the astronomical community."

34. 1993—Charles A. Whitney
" recognition of over eighteen years of service as Editor of the Journal of the AAVSO; his leadership and thoughtful contributions to marked improvements in the content, appearance, and production of the Journal during that period; his efforts to fund and produce special editions of the Journal; and his continuous support of the goals of the AAVSO."

33. 1991—Theodore H. N. Wales
" recognition of his loyalty and devotion to the Association, his untiring support in financial management and advice in over twelve years of service as AAVSO Treasurer, and his many other contributions to the Association as a member of the Council and a volunteer at Headquarters."

32. 1988—Edward A. Halbach
" recognition of his outstanding record of over 50,000 observations contributed during 54 years of faithful AAVSO membership, his long-standing devotion to the ideals and purposes of the Association, his generous contribution of time and effort in constructing essential office furniture at the new Headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and his valuable work in the preparation of charts."

31. 1987—Carolyn J. Hurless—(posthumously)
" recognition of her great devotion to the AAVSO and its aims and purposes; her outstanding contribution of over 79,000 observations; her services as AAVSO Council member for several terms and as Vice President from 1967 to 1973; her institution and editorship of the informal publication Variable Views ; her correspondence encouraging new observers overseas, establishing her as an international ambassador of good will among variable star observers; and her boundless enthusiasm for observing variable stars which she transmitted to others."

30. 1987—Howard J. Landis
" recognition of his long-standing, supportive membership; his extensive contributions of photoelectric observations; his Chairmanship of the Photoelectric Photometry Committee; his valuable encouragement of new observers/photometrists; his assistance in computerizing AAVSO photometric data; and his services as AAVSO Council member for several terms."

29. 1987—Arthur J. Stokes
" recognition of his long-standing, faithful membership; his contributions as a pioneer in the establishment of the AAVSO Photoelectric Photometry Committee, serving as Chairman of this Committee for over ten years, preparing the Observing Manual for photoelectric photometry work, and organizing observing programs; and his services as AAVSO Council member for several terms, and as AAVSO President from 1983 to 1985."

28. no award

27. 1986—F. Lancaster Hiett
" recognition of his faithful membership since 1936, his devotion to and support of the goals of the Association, and his continuous observing record for fifty years resulting in over 90,000 observations of variable stars."

26. 1986—M. Daniel Overbeek
" recognition of his dedicated devotion to observing variable stars in the southern sky since 1952 resulting in over 70,000 observations of variable stars, his excellent guidance of many variable star observers in South Africa, and his valuable service on the AAVSO Council."

25. 1986—Thomas A. Cragg
" recognition of his 41 years of active membership, his Chairmanship of the AAVSO Cepheid Committee, his valuable service on the AAVSO Council, and his dedicated observing since 1945, yielding over 109,000 observations of variable stars."

24. 1985—Edward G. Oravec
" recognition of his faithful membership since 1946, his valuable service as Councillor and President, and his continuous dedicated observing since 1942, yielding over 120,000 observations of variable stars."

23. 1983—John E. Bortle
" recognition of his twenty years of active membership, his long observing record for the AAVSO, his valuable service on the AAVSO Council and Committees, and for his work in instituting and editing the AAVSO Circular since 1970."

22. 1981—Charles E. Scovil
" recognition of his outstanding work as the preparer of the AAVSO Variable Star Atlas, his long service in the photography and determination of sequences for the new "AAVSO Variable Star Atlas", his contributions as President, Associate Editor of the Journal of the AAVSO, and Co-Editor of the AAVSO Circular, his long and valuable observing record, and his faithful devotion to the ideals of the Association."

21. 1980—Marvin E. Baldwin
" recognition of his eighteen years of active membership, his long observing record, his valuable direction of the AAVSO Committees on Eclipsing Binary and RR Lyrae type variable stars, and his two terms of loyal service as President of the Association."

20. 1971—Richard H. Davis
"...his untiring loyalty and devotion to the Association, his competent and faithful service as treasurer for the past ten years, his valuable legal counsel, and his service to the Solar Division."

19. 1965—Curtis E. Anderson
" recognition of his outstanding observational contribution to the study of variable stars, and for the statistical history of the AAVSO, and his constant drive to acquaint young people with the mysteries of the stars."

18. 1965—Ralph N. Buckstaff
" recognition of his outstanding service to astronomy, his many years with this Association as Officer and observer, and his contribution to the scientific life of his community and state."

17. 1962—Richard W. Hamilton
" recognition of his faithful devotion to the interests of the Association for over twenty-five years, of his loyal services as President, and especially of his untiring efforts as Curator and Distributor of Variable Star Charts."

16. 1961—Clinton B. Ford
" grateful appreciation of his moral and material support during trying times, his long observing record, and his service as Secretary and President. Through his efforts the Endowment Fund has been established on a firm foundation."

15. 1961—Reginald P. de Kock
"...whose constant vigilance of the morning and evening sky resulted in an invaluable contribution of over 100,000 observations of variable stars in the southern sky."

14. 1956—Margaret W. Mayall and R. Newton Mayall
"For their unfailing devotion to the ideals and interests of the Association during its recent years of great trial, and for their combined efforts in completing the Leon Campbell Memorial Volume "Studies of Long Period Variables."

13. 1954—Roy A. Seely
"In recognition of his faithful devotion to the interests of the Association for over thirty years; of his loyal services as President and Secretary; and especially of his untiring efforts in producing new variable star charts."

12. 1954—Percy Witherell

11. 1951—David W. Rosebrugh
".....Eleventh Merit Award to DAVID W. ROSEBRUGH, who has devoted untold hours to the visual observation of variable stars and to administrative duties during his term as secretary and president of the Association."

10. 1951—Harlow Shapley
".....Tenth Merit Award to HARLOW SHAPLEY on the occasion of his thirtieth year as Director of the Harvard College Observatory and guiding light of the Association, and for his international recognition in the field of variable stars."

9. 1948—Cyrus F. Fernald
".....Ninth Merit Award to CYRUS F. FERNALD, who has made outstanding observational contributions to the study of variable stars, and who has done much to maintain the continuity of the light curves, especially during the recent war years."

8. 1944—Leon Campbell
".....Eighth Merit Award to LEON CAMPBELL, Recorder and Pickering Memorial Astronomer, who by his devotion to the work of the Association has made outstanding contributions to the field of variable star astronomy."

7. 1943—Charles W. Elmer
".....Seventh Merit Award to CHARLES W. ELMER who by his long continued service and devotion to the activities of the Association has greatly furthered its work on the problems of stellar variation."

6. 1942—Dalmiro Francis Brocchi
".....Sixth Merit Award to DALMIRO FRANCIS BROCCHI, a variable star observer for many years and a cartographer whose handiwork will long continue to be indispensable for the work of all observers."

5. 1938—David B. Pickering
".....Fifth Merit Award to DAVID B. PICKERING in appreciation of his long leadership in developing the Association, standardizing its methods, and through travels and writing spreading the gospel of international good will and cooperation in scientific work."

4. 1937—Eugene H. Jones
".....Fourth Merit Award to EUGENE H. JONES, who by his devotion to astronomy and his achievements as an observer has reached heights of accomplishment outstanding in the history of variable star research."

3. 1936—William Tyler Olcott
".....Third Merit Award to WILLIAM TYLER OLCOTT, the Founder and Life Secretary of our Association whose words and writing and patient guidance have led many to know and love the stars."

2. 1936—Rev. Tilton C. H. Bouton
".....Second Merit Award to REV. TILTON C. H. BOUTON. For almost a quarter of a century an assiduous observer of variable stars. His zeal and his loyalty to the Association have been inspiration to his fellow members."

1. 1934—Leslie C. Peltier
"The American Association of Variable Star Observers presents its First Merit Award to LESLIE C. PELTIER. His faithful and untiring service has placed him in the front ranks of variable star observers and his discoveries have won him international fame." [photograph of original award]