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

4 - Amateurs in the service of science

from PART II - THE FOUNDING OF THE AAVSO – THE WILLIAM TYLER OLCOTT ERA

Summary

I will be glad to act on any suggestions you may offer that will in your judgment render our observations of greater service to you.

– William Tyler Olcott to Edward C. Pickering, 1912

William Tyler Olcott, who began married life as an attorney in Norwich, Connecticut, was drawn into viewing the sky one summer from Block Island, Rhode Island. His growing interest and success in publishing his notes about the sky and stars drew him into a more active involvement in variable star observing and the organization of the American Association of Variable Star Observers.

After his discovery of the skies, he was delighted to find that a small telescope could contribute to the science of variable star astronomy. Acting on this knowledge, Olcott established an organization to collect and publish the variable star observations made by himself and others, which he announced as the American Association of Variable Star Observers, or AAVSO.

The AAVSO grew under the influence of monthly appearances of AAVSO observing statistics and other news in Popular Astronomy. That growth and the advent of World War I had consequences for both Olcott's health and the AAVSO, which led to the incorporation of the AAVSO in 1918. All of these events are the subject of this chapter.

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