November 24, 2003
Getting Started - Variable Star Observing

I happened to meet Russ Sipe at the Orange County Astronomers site out near Anza, Southern California the other night. I was looking for a project to do some science as an OCA Star Member on the club's Kuhn 22" telescope, and he suggested that I look into researching cataclysmic binary variable stars.

Sounds like a promising topic.

I have had some minor experience with CCD imaging on a large scope at Star Hill Lodge, using their RC 24" scope with an ST-8 CCD camera.

Russ was very helpful:

"Seeing the Kuhn used for science is a major goal for many in the club; especially myself, John Hoot, Barbara Toy, and the OCA Board. So I was pleased when you stopped by and indicated your interest. As I mentioned, John Hoot is the go to guy in OCA to get going on telescope science. You will recall that I mentioned that John did a weekend workshop on Telescope Science for OCA members last year. John plans to do that again in the future but no date has been set.

I understand that you are a Star Member and that you have done some CCD work on an SCT, so the ball is already rolling. Now we need to get you up to speed on how to use the Kuhn for scientific purposes.

When you get into this you will need to develop a working knowledge of one or more software packages that allows you to reduce and analysis your data. For what it is worth I use MPO Suite by Brian Warner. Although originally developed for asteroid work (detection and light curves) the software has been expanded over time and does a good job working with variable stars. John will have other programs to suggest was well."

I ordered the MPO Suite (Canopus software + book) from Minor Planet Observer for $75.00

Posted by Tom Munnecke at 10:52 AM