Press Release

AAVSO: New Editor for Journal of Variable Star Astronomy

By SpaceRef Editor
September 28, 2019
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For the past 10 years, under the guiding hand of Editor-in-Chief Professor John Percy (University of Toronto), the Journal of the American Association of Variable Star Observers (JAAVSO) has flourished. Starting October 1, 2019, the scholarly journal’s pages will see new Editor-in-Chief Professor Nancy Morrison (University of Toledo) at the keyboard implementing her vision.

Morrison (Ph.D. from the University of Hawaii at Manoa) brings to the JAAVSO more than her 52-year affair with variable stars, active involvement with the astronomical community, and tenure with the American Astronomical Society Board of Trustees. According to Percy, “[Morrison’s] long and successful career as a professor, observatory director, and planetarium director suggest that she is another American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) kindred spirit who will bring new ideas to the JAAVSO and the organization as a whole.”

Percy’s “kindred spirits” are those dedicated to AAVSO’s objectives: amateur and professional astronomers observing variable stars and providing carefully accrued data to AAVSO databases, and people helping the organization achieve its mission in other ways, such as by contributing to the JAAVSO. CEO and Director of the AAVSO Stella Kafka agrees, expressing that, “We are delighted that Professor Morrison will be joining the JAAVSO. She takes over at an exciting time for citizen science and variable star astronomy, where the JAAVSO can be a major means of communication of scientific results from the AAVSO community. We are looking forward to the future directions of the Journal under her leadership.”

JAAVSO is a refereed research publication available to the entire community of variable star researchers, promoting the AAVSO’s overall mission — to enable anyone, anywhere, to participate in scientific discovery through variable star astronomy.

Morrison wants to make participation in scientific discovery even more accessible by enhancing the experience of reading JAAVSO, stating that, “I intend to look into making the Journal more interactive.” Imagine being immersed in an intriguing JAAVSO article and viewing a data table that raises a scientific question for you. At present, you would have to copy, paste, and reformat the figure, or retrieve the data from the AAVSO archive. Instead, suppose you could click on the figure to download the data in the form in which they were analyzed by the author, and immediately begin to answer the question burning in your brain. The scope for your creativity will be much greater in the latter case. If implemented, the possibilities Morrison’s changes will have for discoveries and JAAVSO-engaged researchers are vast.

The dedication of many “AAVSO kindred spirits” supplies numerous discoveries to JAAVSO readers, and helps build mutually beneficial scientific relationships between amateur and professional astronomers. However, Percy empathizes that the demand for knowledge is so great that the need for written material is not being met. He urges, “More than ever, we need citizens, including students, to connect with science.” To be considered for publication in the JAAVSO, a submitted article must simply be original research conducted largely by the author(s) on a variable star astronomy subject. Topics include studies of variable objects, data analyses, and precise methods of observing techniques. Yet Percy says that the need for a greater array of studies from researchers worldwide is still present.

Morrison may see the solution to this need, as she reveals that, “Especially for new authors, authorship should be an educational, welcoming experience. I’d like to broaden the pool of authors and of qualified article referees to the greatest extent possible.” True to Morrison’s form, she has plans for how to make her vision a reality. 

Dr. Stella Kafka
CEO & Director
American Association of Variable Star Observers
+1 (617) 354-0484 x107 

Nancy Morrison
Journal of the American Association of Variable Star Observers (effective 1 October 2019)
+1 (419) 202-4856 

Elizabeth O. Waagen
Associate Editor
Journal of the American Association of Variable Star Observers
+1 (617) 354-0484 x111

SpaceRef staff editor.