Home » Lectures » Lecture Announcement – Dr Stella Kafka – Director of AAVSO – Observing Variable Stars with the AAVSO

Lecture Announcement – Dr Stella Kafka – Director of AAVSO – Observing Variable Stars with the AAVSO

Dr. Stella Kafka, Director of the AAVSO (American Association of Variable Star Observers)


Before her tenure at the AAVSO which started in 2015, Dr Kafka held positions at CTIO, IPAC/Caltech, Carnegie Institution of Washington/DTM and AIP Publishing. The AAVSO is an international non-profit organization of variable star observers whose mission is to enable anyone, anywhere, to participate in scientific discovery through variable star astronomy.

Lecture topic

Observing Variable Stars with the AAVSO

Variable stars have always been the most intriguing (and fun) targets for observers, professional and amateur alike. Stellar variability, both intrinsic and extrinsic, provide unique insights in critical stages of stellar evolution, help determine distances to nearby galaxies and add to our understanding of explosion physics and chemical enrichment of the Milky Way.I will introduce some of the most common aspects of stellar variability and their significance in astrophysics. I will discuss their common light curves identifiers, and present work by AAVSO observers that has led to cutting-edge scientific discoveries throughout the years. Finally, I will discuss how you can participate in variable star observations from your back yard, contributing to the AAVSO International Database and to cutting-edge science.

This illustration shows the rhythmic rise and fall of starlight from the Cepheid variable star V1 over a seven-month period. Cepheid variables are pulsating stars that brighten and fade in a predictable pattern. The illustrated graph shows that V1 completes a pulsation cycle every 31.4 days. The red dots on the graph represent observations by the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO), who partnered with the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Hubble Heritage Project to study the star. The four stars on the graph denote observations made by the Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3. Ten amateur astronomers from around the world made 214 observations of V1 between July 2010 and December 2010, obtaining four pulsation cycles. The AAVSO study allowed the Hubble Heritage team to target Hubble observations that would capture the star at its brightest and dimmest phases.

Lecture Date/Time

Saturday February 10th 7:30pm

The public is welcome!

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