You don’t necessarily need a dark sky. In fact, the closer you work to your back door the more productive you will be, and work crucial to the profession can be done in twilight or from light polluted sites. I’m fortunate to live under a reasonably dark sky, but to prove this point I recently did an observing session from Sydney Observatory in Australia, in the heart of CBD. Very successful it was, too, and great fun.
As adviser for visual research I’d like invite all visual observers to participate in a first research project: the Dual Maxima Mira Project, instigated by Stan Walker of the VSS. These are long period variables that have double peaks in their light curves. Some of these stars are thought to be undergoing evolutionary changes now, and are bright enough to observe with binoculars; others are definitely challenging. For more information, please contact [cblink=”alan.plummer”]me[/cblink].
We amateurs get paid, too. How? By learning and seeing the sky as few others can do. One can make a point of touring the galaxies, nebulae, clusters, beautiful colored stars, planets, and asteroids along the way while participating in a wonderful science.
VSS has several visual research projects, including Beginners’ Visual Observing – a good way to start. Our project on Bright Cepheids is an important one for detecting period and other changes. Dual-Maxima Miras are a neglected field – we don’t understand why some Miras should behave like this. R and Eta Carinae are in need of long term monitoring. A new target is the dwarf nova V442 Cen – particularly at minimum.
To get started on any of these projects, contact the organiser whose name appears on the linked pages. We’ll give all the assistance we can to get you going.