One of the best things about going to these meetings is you learn what astronomers are really looking at, researching, observing with space telescopes and how much the AAVSO is actually appreciated by the professional community.
There were AAVSO light curves in at least one out of three papers given here every day this week. Astronomers using sophisticated space telescopes and 8 meter telescopes on the ground are using AAVSO light curves of novae, recurrent novae, dwarf novae, symbiotic variables and all manner of CVs in their research.
The paper Brad Schaefer gave on recurrent novae was a virtual smorgasboard of historical AAVSO data. His research would be impossible without us, and he says so enthusiastically in the interview I did with him for the podcast. He has a list of five RN that he predicts will blow up in the next five to ten years, and T Pyx is NOT one of them. He is quite sure it will be the monitoring of these stars by amateurs that will result in the timely notification needed to alert astronomers to the rare opportunities these events present.
The professional CV community has given me a lot of one on one ideas to bring to amateurs about what it is they need and want, and how we can contribute in a meaningful way to their research. Steve Howell, Boris Gaensicke and Paula Szkody, talked with me one on one about what amateurs can do to help and what they have already contributed to the cause.
Personally, I learned a lot at this meeting. I was pretty fuzzy on the current hypothesis on pre-CV evolution, and the difference between symbiotic variables and common envelope binaries. I have a much clearer picture of why population studies are so important to CV
research. I was talking with Arne after the last session and telling him how by Thursday I was even beginning to understand x-ray light curves and recognizing emission, absorption, H alpha and beta lines in optical spectrum. I'm beginning to wonder how many spousal permission units it will cost me to buy a spectrograph!
I have a pretty current understanding now of what the core issues are that CV astronomers are trying to untangle, and what its gonna take to get them there. The exciting thing is WE CAN HELP. There is still a lot for amateurs to do with dwarf novae, symbiotics, recurrent novae (we practically own this field!), novae (lots of interest in novae!), and magnetic variables.
Even better, this was perfect timing, because we will probably launch the new CV Section this year after the spring meeting (if not sooner). I was able to rub elbows with all the top researchers in the field and let them know what we have planned and they are enthusiastic about the role we can play.
I got to spend some time with some of the key players from Japan who contribute to CVnet; and as usual, I was impressed with the way professional astronomers like Joe Patterson, John Thorstensen and Boris Gaensicke are willing to share the love of VSO and advise amateurs on how they can contribute to science.
It was awesome. And now my batteries and enthusiasm are fully charged. I'm glad to be home so I can get back to observing some of these wild stars myself!