Skip to content

Your Cart


You have 0 items in your cart.

Register Sign in Wishlist
Advancing Variable Star Astronomy

Advancing Variable Star Astronomy
The Centennial History of the American Association of Variable Star Observers

$124.00 (P)

  • Date Published: June 2011
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521519120

$ 124.00 (P)

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:

Looking for an examination copy?

If you are interested in the title for your course we can consider offering an examination copy. To register your interest please contact providing details of the course you are teaching.

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • Founded in 1911, the AAVSO boasts over 1200 members and observers and is the world's largest non-profit organization dedicated to variable star observation. This timely book marks the AAVSO's centennial year, presenting an authoritative and accurate history of this important association. Writing in an engaging and accessible style, the authors move chronologically through five eras of the AAVSO, discussing the evolution of its structure and purpose. Throughout the text, the main focus is on the thousands of individuals whose contributions have made the AAVSO's progress possible. Describing a century of interaction between amateur and professional astronomers, the authors celebrate the collaborative relationships that have existed over the years. As the definitive history of the first hundred years of the AAVSO, this text has broad appeal and will be of interest to amateur and professional astronomers, as well as historians and sociologists of science in general.

    • First comprehensive history of the AAVSO
    • Thoroughly documented and well-researched, updating previous literature on the subject
    • Pays special attention to the interaction between amateur and professional astronomers over the years
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    "Advancing Variable Star Astronomy gives a rich, thoroughly documented account of a century of progress, through times of exhilaration and a period of traumatic stress. It is both fascinating and instructive." Owen Gingerich, Professor Emeritus of Astronomy and of the History of Science, Harvard University

    "Advancing Variable Star Astronomy is an insightful history of the development of variable star observing in America over the past century that is wonderfully imbued with the feelings and motivations of the various individuals involved in the conception and evolution of the AAVSO, dating from prior to its creation in 1911 to the present. The authors, with their lengthy personal involvement in the AAVSO, have drawn upon available documents and correspondence to infuse the contents with their impressions of the feelings and motivations of the various individuals involved, thereby breathing life into what might otherwise have become a mere recital of names, numbers and dates from the past. But Advancing Variable Star Astronomy is not simply a historical rendering of the AAVSO's first century; it also provides a fascinating glimpse into the development of the various branches of observational astronomy, particularly as they apply to the study of variable stars, and the interpersonal relationships that arose between individuals of often disparate temperament. The picture presented is that of an organization that is more dynamic and useful today then it was a century ago when it began as a gentleman’s club of mostly amateur observers with small refracting telescopes interested in making observations, initially of long period variables, useful for learning more about the nature of stellar light variability." David G. Turner, Professor, St. Mary’s University, Canada

    "The pages of this marvelous book are like dipping into magic waters. Intertwined in the story of how stars behave is the story of the first century of the world’s largest organization dedicated to observing variable stars. This is a tale of ideas, anguish, and discovery, from the smallest telescopes to the great telescopes in space. I recommend this book very highly." Dr David H. Levy, Amateur astronomer, comet discoverer, and author

    "Much of what we know about variable stars is due to the unsung heroics of a host of amateur astronomers keeping lonely vigils over them in backyard observatories with small telescopes, with remarkably little recognition for their efforts, and with no satisfaction other than the sense of having added their scintilla to the sum of human knowledge. This superbly researched and elegantly written book, published in the year of the centennial of the founding of the AAVSO, is a landmark volume that will be enjoyed by anyone who has ever looked up and wondered at the night sky. It is a compelling tale, well told; I for one couldn’t put it down." Dr William Sheehan, Amateur astronomer and author

    "This is the definitive history book on the AAVSO which today is firmly established as the primary facilitator for photometric data on variable stars. The book also serves as an outline history of variable star discovery and research worldwide from its beginnings at the end of the sixteenth Century. With scientific researchers relying more and more upon amateur astronomers to provide photometry of variable stars the future of the AAVSO is assured. The captivating writing style of Williams and Saladyga in conjunction with the comprehensive research undertaken makes for a most compelling read." John Toone, British Astronomical Association, Variable Star Section

    "This book was a fascinating read." Tony Markham, Astronomy Now

    "is a well-researched, carefully-written and beautifully-illustrated volume that will long remain a classic in the history of variable star astronomy." - Wayne Orchiston, Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage

    "I highly recommend this book to those interested in the changing partnership between amateur and professional astronomy from the late nineteenth through the early twenty-first centuries." - Horace Smith, Journal for the History of Astronomy, Aug 2012

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2011
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521519120
    • length: 448 pages
    • dimensions: 254 x 197 x 26 mm
    • weight: 1.1kg
    • contains: 128 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Pioneers in Variable Star Astronomy Prior to 1909:
    1. The emergence of variable star astronomy – a need for observations
    2. A need for observers
    Part II. The Founding of the AAVSO – The William Tyler Olcott Era:
    3. The amateur's amateur
    4. Amateurs in the service of science
    Part III. The Leon Campbell Era:
    5. Leon Campbell to the rescue
    6. Formalizing relationships
    7. The Pickering Memorial Endowment
    8. Fading of the Old Guard
    9. Growing pains and distractions
    Part IV. The Service Bureau – The Margaret Mayall Era:
    10. Learning about independence
    11. Eviction from Harvard College Observatory
    12. Actions and reactions
    13. In search of a home
    14. Survival on Brattle Street
    15. AAVSO achievements
    16. Breathing room on Concord Avenue
    Part V. Analysis and Science: The Janet Mattei Era:
    17. The growth of a director
    18. Learning the ropes the hard way
    19. Managing with renewed confidence
    20. Expanding the scientific charter
    Part VI. Accelerating Observational Science – The Arne Henden Era:
    21. Bridging the gap
    22. Accelerating the science – the Henden era begins

  • Resources for

    Advancing Variable Star Astronomy

    Thomas R. Williams, Michael Saladyga

    General Resources

    Welcome to the resources site

    Here you will find free-of-charge online materials to accompany this book. The range of materials we provide across our academic and higher education titles are an integral part of the book package whether you are a student, instructor, researcher or professional.

    Find resources associated with this title

    Type Name Unlocked * Format Size

    Showing of

    Back to top

    *This title has one or more locked files and access is given only to instructors adopting the textbook for their class. We need to enforce this strictly so that solutions are not made available to students. To gain access to locked resources you either need first to sign in or register for an account.

    These resources are provided free of charge by Cambridge University Press with permission of the author of the corresponding work, but are subject to copyright. You are permitted to view, print and download these resources for your own personal use only, provided any copyright lines on the resources are not removed or altered in any way. Any other use, including but not limited to distribution of the resources in modified form, or via electronic or other media, is strictly prohibited unless you have permission from the author of the corresponding work and provided you give appropriate acknowledgement of the source.

    If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

  • Authors

    Thomas R. Williams, American Association of Variable Star Observers
    Tom Williams is the AAVSO Historian and has served in AAVSO leadership positions for over 20 years, including twice as president. He earned a Ph.D. in History from Rice University in 2000, after spending over thirty years as an industrial chemist and manufacturing manager. Since then, Dr Williams has served as a senior editor for the Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers (Springer, 2007) and has written forty-three entries for that work. Over the past twenty-five years he has published book chapters, encyclopedia entries and over thirty articles and book reviews.

    Michael Saladyga, American Association of Variable Star Observers
    Michael Saladyga is Technical Assistant and Archivist at the AAVSO where he has written several articles on variable star astronomy history for JAAVSO: The Journal of the American Association of Variable Star Observers and has contributed to a number of AAVSO technical monographs and historical articles on variable stars. He earned a Ph.D. in English and American Literature from Brandeis University in 1995. As AAVSO Archivist, he has arranged and catalogued the AAVSO's historical papers - the foundation for much of this book.

related journals

Sign In

Please sign in to access your account


Not already registered? Create an account now. ×

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×

Find content that relates to you

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.