ProAm 2009 - Meeting at La Rochelle

Tuesday 3 November 2009 by Francois Cochard

After Oleron 2003 and La Rochelle 2006, the CNRS (thanks to Jean-Pierre Rozelot !) organized a new ProAm session at La Rochelle, from 26 to 29th October. The objective was to share experiences between professional and amateur astronomers, and develop new collaboration opportunities.

ProAm 2009

Of Course, Be Observation Program, with BeSS and ArasBeam, was considered as a reference for such collaboration. Valerie and myself did present a status of Be observations, that you can find on ProAm website :

Several key BeSS observers did attend - it was a great opportunity to meet. And we thought to all of you who did not have the possibility to come.

When preparing this presentation, I’ve been surprised by the high number of very valuable spectra we already get in BeSS. For instance, do you kow that there is much more amateur spectra in Ha than pro ones ?

We can clearly see the complementarity of amateur and pro observations : Pros have mainly echelle spectra, with high resolution, and focused on some specific stars, during short campains (ie 2 weeks). Amateur observations cover more stars, on a regular basis (most of them once a year so far). We’ve also demonstrated that amateur observers can combine their observations to get a very impressive coverage.

Of course, we’ve also identified some possible improvements.

First is probably to better use the existing data to adjust the expected observation period for evolving stars. We’ll try to do that in coming weeks, little by little. The program will remain focused on Ha, and we’ll start to adapt the observation period by brightest stars. Ideally, we’d like to cover all stars up to magn 8, more and more often !

I also keep in mind that one of our objective is to discover Be outburst the soonest possible after it occurs. So far, already 3 outburst have been observed... this is enough to confirm it is not a rare phenomenon, and it can happen to you at your next observation !

An other improvement that I dream to setup for months is to create a "statistics" page, where we’ll see if we properly observe, by comparison to what we expect. I’ll do my best to do that shortly...

Of course, most of observations are made in North hemisphere today... if you have any idea to increase the number of observers in South, please tell me ! (;>).

We’re convinced that we’re still in the beginning of BeSS/ArasBeam adventure. More and more observers will join us - the more will be, the more our results will be useful. To reinforce that, we need to increase the animation of the observations - specially, ArasBeam must be more living. To do that, we’ll propose to more people to write article - like this one. If you’re interested to propose some articles from time to time, please tell us !

I warmly thank all of the Be observers that put data in this database. This is already an incredible program (a lot of people, including many pro, told us they are very impressed by BeSS + ArasBeam) ! But the real achievement is in front of us, with the coming data : thanks to our observations, we give to the community a new vision of Be stars... and this will help to better understand how stars work !

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