Participants in the VSS community undertake research using a variety of techniques. You can learn more about these techniques below.
Many variable star observers start their journey by visually observing variables that can be viewed through binoculars or small telescopes. There is a long history of serious research done in this manner, and it requires no further equipment such as cameras, filters and computers. In this regard it is ideal for beginners; yet it is also the true passion of many variable star observers around the world.
CCD cameras have long been used in the production of “pretty pictures” – the wonderful astrophotographs that we see in magazines, books and websites. However, CCD cameras also have a long history of scientific study, and with the plethora of commercial and free photometry software, they have become the mainstay of amateur research activities.
The emergence of Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) cameras as cost effective astronomical imaging platforms has been underway for some years now. However, it has become clear that these cameras can be used for scientific work such as photometry in addition to their more traditional role in taking “pretty pictures”. participants of VSS are actively involved in exploring their use in this away and have identified key areas of research in which they are more suitable than traditional CCD cameras.
Spectroscopy is the analysis of electromagnetic radiation received from astronomical objects and is generally presented as a graph of radiation amplitude versus wavelength. Amateur spectroscopy is presently restricted to the visual range, for cost and technical reasons, but that is hardly a limitation as the interested observer will find no end of interesting objects and events to observe.
Video cameras have been traditionally used for photometry of lunar and asteroidal occultations and mutual events of planet satellites. Since recently they are also being used for identifying the times of minima of short periodic variable stars. Those cameras provide a cost-effective option for variable star research as well as an opportunity for typical occultation observers to also contribute to variable stars science.