One Million!

After reaching a database grand total at 31st Dec 1996 of 999,634, the millionth observation was logged on 3rd January from the first report to be dealt with in 1997. This was an observation by Mike Gainsford of SS Cygni at 9.4m declining from outburst on 1996 December 23, 1847UT; using 254mm reflector. Mike has observed and contributed to the BAAVSS for many years and is a representative of the Campaign-for-Dark-Skies.

In the last five years, members and friends have been tackling the massive paper records held by the section. Around 10,000 hours of voluntary work has steadily built a database that enables much easier reference and analysis. Some variables, such as mira and semi-regulars, are only worth analysing when the maximum dataset is available. Examples extending back more than 90 years are available via the home page light-curve link. Several papers and articles have been made possible, published in the BAA Journal and elsewhere. Also, updates on particular variables have been provided to professional astronomers for study in conjuction with UV and other non-visual data acquired by satellite or large telescope.
The rapid progress from 3/4 million in February 1996 was due to increased totals by most contributors. Phil Barnard's amazing feat of entering nearly 100,000 from published memoirs made the grand total 50% greater than in previous years. Herbert Joy led in each of the earlier years and his quota was again over 65,000. Other major 1996 contributions of 5 to 27 thousand were by Dave McAdam, John Moran, Dennis Gill, Gary Poyner, Tony Markham, Mike Carson-Rowland, & David Lloyd. The full list of names and totals is published annually in the VSSC.
Over five years the number of observers providing machine-readable reports to the section has grown - requests for these in the VSS Circulars have been a constant theme by the Computer Secretary! Although no distinction is made between electronic or paper reports, the latter naturally take longer to log into the database. The total observations made during 1996 and logged directly from computer reports approaches 30,000 (about 70% of the expected full total when paper reports are included) therefore assessment of activity in variables, particularly eruptive ones, can be made much more quickly using results from several observers - again, see examples on the light-curve page.

Congratulations to Mike on the millionth! - and thanks and appreciation to everyone who has helped with BAAVSS records.