AAS 204th Meeting, June 2004
Session 35 Professional-Amateur Collaboration for Enhanced Research
Topical Session, Tuesday, June 1, 2004, 8:30-10:00am, 10:45am-12:30pm, 710/712

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[35.13] Observing Blazar Variability: The GTN-AAVSO Collaboration

G. Spear (SSU), A. Price (AAVSO), P. Plait, T. Graves, L. Cominsky (SSU), J. Mattei (AAVSO)

The NASA/EPO group at Sonoma State University is creating the GLAST Ground-Based Telescope Network (GTN). The GTN is a series of telescopes and observers which will support the science and education goals of NASA’s Gamma-Ray Large Area Space Telescope. The GTN is a collaboration with the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO), other amateurs, schools, and professionals. GLAST will observe gamma rays from high-energy sources such as blazars. The ground-based telescopes will observe GLAST targets to provide a multi-year baseline of variability characteristics. During the mission the network will observe these targets simultaneously with GLAST to provided multi-wavelength coverage.

Because of recent improvements in the sensitivity of CCD detectors and the improved reliability of computer controlled (robotic) telescopes, amateurs and students can now obtain professional quality data, and can make substantial contributions to the science goals of space observatories such as GLAST.

Because of the unpredictability of blazar variability it is important to obtain as many observations as possible. A distributed network of committed observers is ideally suited. Indeed, such a network is essential to accumulate the data needed to ultimately understand the variability mechanism and the production of the gamma rays in this type of active galaxy. Amateurs are ideally suited to provide this type of coverage while professionals are finding it increasingly difficult to obtain telescope time on small telescopes.

We will describe the resource materials and tutorials that are available through the GTN and the AAVSO, the GTN blazar image archive, the AAVSO international database of magnitudes, and the various levels of contributions to provide the required science data. We will also show comparisons of blazar data accumulated by professionals, by the AAVSO, and by students. Finally we will provide a status report for the 0.3 meter robotic telescope system being established by the GTN.

If you would like more information about this abstract, please follow the link to http://gtn.sonoma.edu. This link was provided by the author. When you follow it, you will leave the Web site for this meeting; to return, you should use the Back comand on your browser.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: spear@sonoma.edu

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