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  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: June 2011

15 - AAVSO achievements

from PART IV - THE SERVICE BUREAU – THE MARGARET MAYALL ERA

Summary

Our observations do not yet tell the full story. Nor may they for many decades or perhaps centuries to come.

– Cyrus Fernald, 1954

Even while she was struggling with the funding proposals, Margaret Mayall was encouraged by the Association's observation reports and activities. Several developments marked a turning point for the Association, especially when Mayall and the Association's achievements were recognized by the International Astronomical Union.

In spite of the upheaval from HCO, Mayall had no reservations about expanding the scientific programs of the AAVSO: she had already been encouraging observers to shift their efforts from long-period to irregular variable stars, and, through her association with Paul Merrill and having seen the work of John Ruiz in photoelectric photometry (PEP), she was convinced of the value of PEP observations in the study of variable stars.

The Association had drawn together many outstanding observers who were willing to initiate new observing programs and try new technologies, sometimes on their own initiative. This chapter follows their successes and some failures.

NEW OBSERVING PROGRAMS

In keeping with her eagerness to move the AAVSO observing program in new directions, Mayall's first “Variable Star Notes” column in JRASC for 1954 featured several faint-magnitude stars. She had, in prior months, been requesting that observations be made, if possible, as faint as 16th magnitude. Mayall's column listed some results, mostly faint observations of 25 stars classified by 5 types: U Gem, R CrB, Z Cam, flare stars and other peculiar variables, and semiregular variables.

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