How do I begin my involvement with the AAVSO?
For some things, like making a chart or downloading data, you don’t need anything special - go to the website and do it. For many things, though, including submitting data, you need an AAVSO website account (free). You don’t have to be a member to have an account, and having this account is not the same as being a member. Once you have a web account, you can become a member, request an observer code, submit observations, and much more. Being a member gives you access to tools and other resources that just having a web account does not (see question below).
What are the benefits of becoming an AAVSO member?
By joining the AAVSO as a member, you will not only support the important work we do, but you will become a part of an ever-growing international organization dedicated to connecting citizen scientists with professionals and educators through variable stars. Additional benefits of membership are listed here.
How do I contribute financially to the AAVSO to support its programs and work?
Information on Donations may be found here.
How do I register for an AAVSO website account and why should I?
To register for the AAVSO website, please fill out the "Registration Form" completely. This will allow you to log in to the AAVSO website which is necessary for submitting data, posting to a forum, and subscribing to our email publications, among other things.
How do I request an observer code?
From the profile tab in your account click the "Request Observer Code" button and initials will be automatically assigned to you. If you do not already have a website account, you will need to create one and then log in before requesting your initials (see "How do I register for an AAVSO website account and why should I?" above). If you have ever had an observer code (observer initials) in the past, please contact the AAVSO to recover your old initials instead of requesting new ones!
How do I get started with variable star observing?
The best way to start is to download and read one of our free observing manuals depending on your interest and available equipment. We also offer a variety of online courses. Additionally, AAVSO members can request a mentor to help them along.
How do I find out what equipment I need to observe?
Information about equipment is included in each observing manual. You can also ask specific questions on our "Instrumentation and Equipment" forum.
What stars should I observe?
The answer to this question depends on the equipment you are using and your location. There are several resources available to help:
- For beginner visual observers: "10-star-tutorial" or the list of easy-to-observe stars.
- For binocular observers there is another list.
- The AAVSO Target Tool can be used to find stars of interest that need observation.
- If you have a specific type of variable star you wish to observe, you may be able to find a list of interesting objects on one of the Observing Section pages.
- It can also be useful to observe stars that other people neglect. Here are some ideas.
- If you wish to take part in an observing campaign, you can subscribe to AAVSO Alert Notices.
How can I observe the Sun?
WITH GREAT CARE! Read all about safe solar observing in the Solar Observing Guide. Other useful information can be found on the Solar Section webpages.
How do I submit photometry or visual observations?
Photometric observations (visual, CCD, PEP, DSLR, CMOS) can be submitted either as individual observations or by uploading a properly formatted file, using WebObs.
How do I submit exoplanet observations?
Observations of exoplanet transits can be submitted using the exoplanet data submission tool. For more information please check out the documentation.
How do I submit spectroscopy observations?
Spectra should be submitted using AVSpec. Note that there is an observer validation process which you must complete before you submit the spectra of your choice. Further information and documentation can be found here.
How do I submit sunspot observations?
Sunspot observations should be submitted using SunEntry.
How do I submit SID (Sudden Ionospheric Disturbance) observations?
To submit SID observations, contact the Solar Section chair by email.
How do I refer to a star with a Greek letter in its name?
Read about how the AAVSO refers to stars with Greek letters in their names.
How do I edit or delete observations I have already submitted?
You are only able to edit observations submitted to the AID as other data are too complex. However, all submission tools provide a way for you to delete your data. For photometric observations of variable stars, log in to the AAVSO website and use WebObs Search to find, then fix or delete your data. For exoplanet and spectroscopic data please see the corresponding documentation.
How can I tell if my observations are good?
Use the Light Curve Generator or VStar to view the light curve of a star you observed and highlight your data to see if they make sense relative to data submitted by others.
How can I download data for my research?
Use the Data Download Tool to get a file of data for your research or plot a light curve using the Light Curve Generator or VStar.
I am a student looking for a project. Do you have any suggestions?
Ideas for student projects may be found here.
I am a researcher. How do I ask the AAVSO about an observing campaign in support of my research?
Read about observing campaigns and fill out a campaign request form.