Friday, October 7, 2011

AAVSO Centenary Meeting

Legacy, what is it, the heritage you create for those that follow may well be one way of looking at it. The AAVSO's legacy and history is legendary. Today I met with some of those legends, and heros of the AAVSO for the first time, although I have worked with a number of them for a few years already without having ever met them.

The first day of the AAVSO meeting kicked of with the official opening of the new headquarters, and the dedication of the Thomas and Anna Faye Williams archives and Dorrit Hoffleit conference room. What an amazing day!

The ribbon cutting ceremony used a large pair of scissors that were specially made to cut up the original star charts by hand after they were printed.

I heard stories from Charles Scovil who described the first star charts hand drawn on transparent linen with India Ink before being etched by a unique process that involved cynide and would surely not be legal today......amazing. We are talking pre-Xerox days.

Photo: Gerry Samolyk showed off some of his original charts

Charles Alcock from the Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics gave a fascinating keynote on the history and the future of Variable Star Astronomy, where he posed the question are all stars variable if your SNR is good enough?

Perhaps that question will be answered by those who dig up the 50 Year Time Capsule that we prepared for burial. Yes, thats right a copy of the book Advancing Variable Star Astronomy was signed by all attendees with some even writing down messages for their kids. A number of the leaders of the AAVSO wrote personal reflections and questions we posed to see if they have been answered by the next generation of AAVSO members who will open the time capsule in the October meeting 2061.

By far the highlight for me was the 100 year light curve of SS Cygni that circled the walls of the Dorrit Hoffleit Conference room. Incredible - the worlds longest lightcurve with 100 years of observations.

No birthday would be complete without cake and ice cream, and so we caught up, shared stories, met our heros, and compared notes on different observing campaigns.

HAPPY 100th Birthday AAVSO !!!!!!

Become part of the next century's activity and join the AAVSO today!

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