Welcome

Hi, my name is Mike Simonsen, and I am a hopeless variable star junkie.


What is a variable star junkie? A person who is willing to brave the elements and sleep deprivation, while investing substantial sums of money, time and spousal permission units to observe stars that, for a variety of reasons, fluctuate in brightness on timescales of minutes, hours, days or years. Once addicted, the VS junkie can never get enough telescope time and spends much of his day fretting over the weather, planning observing sessions, analyzing data, organizing variable star charts, surfing the web and reading books on variable star related topics.

I own a private astronomical observatory that houses two computerized 12" f/10 Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes. I observe every clear or partly clear night, averaging about 100 nights per year. Since 1998, I have submitted over 86,000 observations to the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO).

The AAVSO is a worldwide organization of amateur and professional astronomers who are interested in the study of variable stars. Its purpose is to collect, archive, analyze and publish variable star observations, and to make these observations available to professional astronomers, researchers, and educators.

In these pages you'll find general information on variable stars, C. E. Scovil Observatory and the observing program carried out here. You'll also find links to other websites about variable stars, articles I've written, and the scientific papers I've been fortunate to author or co-author.

For example, I write a blog, Simostronomy, which is mostly about about variable stars and stellar evolution. I am also a cast member of the irregularly and irreverently produced Slacker Astronomy Podcast, and I write for the Universe Today.
 
Here is where I plan to archive all my own personal involvement with variable star astronomy.

Variable star research is one of the few areas in astronomy where amateurs can make an exciting and significant contribution to science. In fact, the line between amateur and professional gets a little blurred at times nowadays, in part due to the excellent equipment available to the amateur.
 
But first let me share this advice from one of the most famous amateur astronomers of all time, Leslie C. Peltier:
 
"I feel it my duty to warn any others who may show signs of star susceptibility that they approach the observing of variable stars with the utmost caution. It is easy to become an addict and, as usual, the longer the indulgence is continued the more difficult it becomes to make a clean break and go back to a normal life."
 
Never were truer words spoken.
 
Mike Simonsen (SXN)
C. E. Scovil Observatory
Imlay City, Michigan, USA