Monday, 10 December 2012

The AAVSO’s Bright Star Monitor Epoch Photometry Database

The American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) Bright Star Monitor Epoch Photometry Database

By any normal measure this is a fairly obscure title for a blog post but recent events surrounding this database of variable star results shows the American psyche at its least attractive.
Other international groups have been generous enough to share their members’ data with the AAVSO but when the AAVSO had the opportunity to demonstrate their appreciation for this generosity they failed dismally. Instead of doing everything in their power to make this bright star data available to the wider astronomical community they have decided to adopt a curious “what was yours has become everybody’s but what is ours will remain ours” philosophy.

I think non-members of the AAVSO who now find their results in the AAVSO database are likely to be fairly unimpressed by all of this – for several reasons.  The “word on the street” is that the source of this third-party material is very far from obvious to the casual database user. It seems that the most these overseas data providers can expect from any subsequent users of their results is a generic comment along the lines of, “Thank you to those AAVSO members who provided the results”!
That the top people within the AAVSO initially made a fairly crude attempt to censor any debate on this unfortunate affair just adds a certain piquancy to the entire business. Moving the discussion thread to the AAVSO Governance forum meant that the thread starter (that would be me) and other non-members of AAVSO (surely those most disadvantaged by the decision) could neither see or contribute to the thread. Luckily this decision was later reversed.

I await developments with some interest.

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