Welcome to Variable Stars South

ScopeVariable Stars South is a loose association of astronomers, mainly amateur, interested in researching the rich and under-explored myriad of southern variable stars.

Find out more about VSS, and read about the research areas we are involved in.

If you're interested in doing serious astronomy and would like to involve yourself in some rewarding scientific research, consider registering with this international group (its free!).  

To stay in touch with VSS, don't forget our VSS Google Group which provides alerts and general announcement (anybody can join the discussion).  Our Newsletters are online too.

Areas of Research

  • Spectroscopy
  • Eruptive Variables
  • DSLR Photometry
  • Eclipsing Binaries
  • CCD Photometry
  • Pulsating Variables
  • Visual Observing

spectrum

Spectroscopy is the analysis of electromagnetic radiation received from astronomical objects and is generally presented as a graph of radiation amplitude versus wavelength. Amateur spectroscopy is presently restricted to the visual range, for cost and technical reasons, but that is hardly a limitation as the interested observer will find no end of interesting objects and events to observe.

Participating in amateur spectroscopy allows you to determine most of the properties of the brighter astronomical objects, such as chemical composition, temperature, spectral class, rotational velocity, red/blue shift and physical behaviour. Once you are reasonably skilled in recording and processing quality spectra the very rewarding, and real science, world of pro-am campaign collaboration is open to you, where you will be very welcome as professional astronomers desperately need your contributions to their research.

Read More

Accretion Disk Binary System

Eruptive variables can display significant and rapid changes in their luminosity due to violent outbursts caused by processes within the star. There is a wide variety of eruptive or cataclysmic variables. Some event, as implied by the term cataclysmic result in the destruction of the star whilst others can reoccur one or more times.

This classification can include cataclysmic variables, novae and supernovae.

Read More

Canon-EOS-60Da-DSLRThe emergence of Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) cameras as cost effective astronomical imaging platforms has been underway for some years now.  However it has become clear that these cameras can be used for scientific work such as photometry in addition to their more traditional role in taking "pretty pictures".  participants of VSS are actively involved in exploring their use in this away and have identified key araes of research in which they are more suitable than traditional CCD cameras.

Note that like Visual Observing, this area of research within VSS is based around the technique of observing, rather than purely the nature of the objects being studied.  Some of the projects below therefore overlap with the research areas that focus purely on specific types of variable stars.

Read More

eblightcurveEclipsing Binary systems cannot be resolved by an optical telescope (unlike visual binaries), but can be detected by regular fluctuations in the light output of the system. This happens because the orbital plane of the system is edge on (or nearly) when viewed from earth and the stars in the system continually eclipse each other (pass in front of each other), resulting in the variable light output.

Where sufficient information has been captured about these systems, it is possible to determine key astrophysical parameters for the systems, including mass and radius.  

Read More

CCD Image sensorCCD cameras have long been used in the production of "pretty pictures" - the wonderful astrophotographs that we seen in magazines, books and websites.  However CCD cameras also have a long history of scientific study, and with the plethora of commercial and free photometry software, they have become the mainstay of amateur research activities.

Note that like Visual Observing, this area of research within VSS is based around the technique of observing, rather than purely the nature of the objects being studied.  Some of the projects below therefore overlap with the research areas that focus purely on specific types of variable stars.

Read More

Cepheids

The variation in brightness of pulsating variable stars is due to the periodic expansion and contraction of the surface layers of the stars. This means the star actually increases and decreases in size periodically. The different types of pulsating variable are distinguished by their periods of pulsation and the shapes of their light curves. These in turn are a function of the mass and evolutionary stage of a given star.

The study of pulsating variables is of great importance to astronomers. Analysis of light curves provides vital information about the interior processes in stars. Perhaps their most valuable property of many types of pulsating variables is a direct relationship between the period of pulsation and their luminosity. This in turn allows us to determine the distance to such stars.

  

Read More

HowToObserveMany variable star observers start their journey by visually observing variables that can be viewed through binoculars or small telescopes.  There is a long history of serious research done in this manner, and it requires no further equipment such as cameras, filters and computers.  In this regard it is ideal for beginners; yet it is also the true passion of many variable star observers around the world.

Note that like the DSLR area, this area of research within VSS is based around the technique of observing, rather than purely the nature of the objects being studied.  Some of the projects below therefore overlap with the research areas that focus purely on specific types of variable stars.

Read More

 


Enter your existing account details to login,
or click "Register" to open a new account.
VSS members can log in using their
username or registered email address.

          Forgot login?   Register