AAVSO surveys amateurs
Today's quick link on astro-ph is by Aaron Price (of Slacker Astronomy fame) and colleagues at the AAVSO and Space Sciences Laboratory at the University of California. The paper, published in the AAVSO's journal, describes a survey of amateur astronomers to determine what the National Virtual Observatory could be doing that would be of use to the community. This goes back to the letter in Astronomy Now back in July asking if there was any point to amateur observing any more: the AAVSO maintains a database of observations of variable stars containing over 11 million entries, most of which have been made by amateur astronomers.
The paper describes the survey which was carried out, the results that came from it and some recommendations for the AVO. One bit that made me laugh was the breakdown of astronomers into five groups: Romantics (a.k.a. armchair astronomers), Educators (teachers or those who do public outreach), Serious Visual Observers (who do Messier marathons for example), Serious Imagers (like those who hunt supernovae), and Tinkerers (prefer to build or modify their own equipment). Macclesfield Astronomical Society has plenty of each!