Can Visual Astronomers Still Contribute to Science?

Today's episode of the 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast examines the controversial issue of the scientific value of visual observations.

Entitled Can Visual Observers Still Contribute to Science? we examine the consequences of living in an age with CCDs and automated sky surveys, and the impact they are having on visual variable star observers.

Restless Universe is the podcast of the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO).


Ryan said...

Great podcast! As a strictly visual observer, it's good to know that my fellow VOs and I are still loved. Though I'm still a newcomer to the AAVSO and the art of visual observing of variables, I often surprise myself by how close or dead-on my approximations are to other observers, both those using CCDs and those just relying on their eyes. Over time, I've certainly seen an improvement, even as I've moved on to fainter, more difficult targets. So it's definitely not a dead practice yet, and even if it were it's still just too damned much fun to give up completely!

Ryan R. Scott, RASC

Mike Simonsen said...

I'm with you. I still observe visually as often as I can. For example, I've found I can monitor more CVs for outbursts visually than i can with a CCD because I can whip the telescope around the sky so fast. My observation of <15.1 is just as good as a CCD measure of 17.2V +/- .012. The bottom line is "IT'S NOT IN OUTBURST". So I wait until I find something interesting going on and then point the CCD at that while I continue to monitor stars visually. Much more efficient use of time. Of course, you have to have two telescopes to do this, which I do. I'm totally crazy, you know.