Observing Campaigns

[Note: if you are seeking confirmation of what you believe is a recent discovery, click on the link in the box at the right.  For general inquiries, please use our Contact form and select "General Observing" as the subject.]

AAVSO Observing Campaigns are special projects concentrating on one star or a number of stars for a given researcher and for a specific research program.  Campaigns are designed to obtain a specific set of data or fulfill a specific research objective, and should be (a) within the capabilities of a significant number of AAVSO observers, and (b) last for a finite length of time. When warrented, a campaign may be extended in order to obtain additional data.

The AAVSO will issue a call for observations at its discretion, but any well-justified program is eligible for AAVSO support.  If you have questions about establishing an AAVSO Observing Campaign, or if you believe your research program would benefit from the participation of the AAVSO observer community, please contact the AAVSO Campaign Coordinator and attach the completed Campaign Request Form (click to download).  The AAVSO can assist with campaigns beyond announcing them; if your project requires substantial assistance of AAVSO staff, we may request grant support for staff activities.  Also, please consider becoming a member if you are not one already!

An observing campaign is announced to our observers via an AAVSO Alert Notice. Please go to the Alert Notices page for more information and for the list of Alert Notices issued to date. Observers learn about campaign-related observing targets via the Alert Notices and the AAVSO Target Tool.

[Note: if you are inquiring about establishing your own personal observing program, about observations in general, or in learning more about the AAVSO and its data, please use our general Contact form.]

For Observers: Please read the requests for observations in full, and use your own best judgment as to whether your equipment and abilities are well-matched to the specific project.  When in doubt please contact AAVSO HQ for guidance and recommendations.  If you are an instrumental observer, we strongly recommend that you calibrate your data and transform all photometry to a standard system!  For some projects this will be required, but it is good practice in general.

Please visit our observer resources page to find our Visual, CCD, and DSLR observing manuals, guides to photometry, and other tools to help you assess whether a campaign is a good match for you!

For Researchers: Any research effort requires focused and enthusiastic leadership, and the leader of the observing campaign should be you, the researcher.  The more you interact with the observer community, the more likely it is that you will attract observers and obtain good data.  Ideally, the AAVSO's role is merely to issue a call for observations, establish communications between you and the observers, and coordinate the collection of data; your role should be to motivate and encourage observers who participate in your work, analyze the data, and publish the results. The AAVSO online forum on Campaigns is the most direct way to reach the most observers. Also, it is required that the work of observers be properly recognized; f any individual observers contribute data that are critically important to the research, we strongly encourage you to offer coauthorship to the observers on any resulting papers.

AAVSO observers have a broad range of observing equipment, software, and other resources. Below are tables summarizing typical photometric and spectroscopic capabilities represented among the observers.

Photometric capabilities - AAVSO observers

xInstrumentx xFiltersx

xRangex x[magnitudes]x

xPrecisionx x[magnitude]x

xCommonalityx xof Resourcex xPrincipalx xGeographicx xCoveragex  xxxNotesx
Visual Eye 0 - 16+ 0.1-0.2 Abundant Worldwide  
CCD/CMOS Johnson Cousins UBVRI 2 - 19+


Abundant Worldwide U filter very uncommon
CCD/CMOS Sloan ugriz 2 - 19+ 0.01-0.05 Rare Worldwide Mostly on AAVSOnet
PEP Johnson Cousins UBVRI

U: -1 - 7           BVRI: -1 - 8

0.005-0.010 Rare North America, Europe  
PEP Optec JH -4 - 4 0.010-0.020 Very Rare North America, Australia Fewer than 20 exist


Spectroscopic capabilities - AAVSO observers

xInstrumentx xTypex xMag xLimitx xResolutionx xWavelengthsx x[Angstroms]x xSpectralx xRangex x[Angstroms]x xCommonalityx xof Resourcex xPrinciplex xGeographicx xCoveragex xxNotesxxx
SA 100/200 Widefield Slitless V = 10-14 100-200 3600-10,000 Full Common Worldwide Includes zero order. Stars can overlap.
Alpy 600 Slit V = 10-14 600-1000 3700-7500 Full Common North America, Europe  
LISA, LOWSPEC Slit V = 10-14 1000-4000 4000-7000 2000-3000 Common North America, Europe  
eShel Echelle V = 6-8 10,000 4500-7000 Full Very Rare North America, Europe  
LHIRES III Slit V = 6-8 10,000-20,000 4000-7000 251-155 Common North America, Europe  
Shelyak Whoppshel Echelle V = 9 30,000 3920-7500 Full Very Rare North America, Europe Fewer than 10 exist.


Please visit our Research portal to find more information about how the AAVSO and its observers can aid you in your research.