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Amateur research widens.

It's one thing to examine someone else's images; it's a whole different game to make research observations yourself. More than 100 amateur and professional astronomers, fascinated by the serious research that diligent, persistent amateurs can do with modern equipment, are expected at this year's Symposium on Telescope Science to be held in Big Bear, California, May 24-26. This will be the 30th annual gathering of a movement with a bright future.

The annual event, which overlaps the RTMC Astronomy Expo nearby, is hosted by the Society for Astronomical Sciences. At last year's gathering amateurs presented papers on obtaining high-precision light curves of asteroids and variable stars; using video cameras for asteroid occultations, Jovian satellite mutual events, and meteors; using spectroscopes to monitor the spectra of eclipsing and pulsating variable stars; and using polarimeters to examine the light-scattering properties of material in and around various celestial objects. The eclipsing star Epsilon Aurigae received special attention, with hot-from-the-spectrograph news about its ongoing two-year eclipse--including hints of rings in the dark disk that does the eclipsing.

Research projects that need more amateur attention, professionals said, include asteroid light curves and fast-cadence photometry of old novae and other cataclysmic variable stars. A workshop discussed equipment and techniques for small-telescope spectroscopy, such as monitoring Be stars that show changing emission lines. Attendees were treated to new-product highlights from several sponsoring companies. The progress on display bodes well for this year's meeting and the future of small-telescope science.

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Title Annotation:News Notes
Publication:Sky & Telescope
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2011
Words:244
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