Welcome back to a new year (and technically a new decade, though I celebrated that a year early)! All of us on this celestial ball have just started a new revolution about the Sun (technically the center of mass of the Solar System, which is close to the Sun, but that's not important for most people), so we tend to look forward to a new year full of possibilities and discoveries yet unwritten (or half-written, in my case, but that's another column).
I've blogged many times about the important contributions that non-career astronomers have made and continue to make to the science of astronomy. Just earlier this week a 10-year old Canadian student, Kathryn Gray, became the youngest known person to help discover a supernova (exploding star).
One of the largest organizations of citizen astronomers is the American Association of Variable Star Observers, or AAVSO. The AAVSO was organized in 1911, which makes this year their (let's see, subtract 1911 from 2011, borrow 1 from the thousands column....) centennial! 100 years! That's no small accomplishment, and the organization is only continuing to grow in membership and impact.
Members of the AAVSO participate in science by monitoring the brightnesses of ...