Am I the only one who finds it suspicious that the initials Scp 'eventually' find their way into the VSNET/ AAVSO data when outbursts of "important" objects are announced by other observers.
After weeks, perhaps months of absolutely no observations being posted publicly (quiescence?), suddenly Patrick reports observations made days, hours or minutes prior to the detections already posted to the internet by other observers. These "observations" are usually posted *after* the initial detections. And strangely enough, they are not "observations" made just *after* the initial (dare I say, legitimate?) detections.
After a quick look through vsnet records one can find a number of recent examples:
DO Dra Nov. 2000 -posted after Chris Jones HT Cam May 2000 -posted after Timo Kinnunen QY Per Dec. 1999 -posted after Mike Simonsen HT Cas July 1999 -posted after Eddy Muyllaert WX Cet Nov.1998 -posted after Rod Stubbings V1251 Cyg ???? -posted after Gary PoynerLooks like a pattern to me. And now, true to the apparent period of this phenomenon we have:
20010405.076 132 (M. Simonsen) 20010405.817 132 (M. Reszelski) **20010407.833 130 Scp** **20010412.819 128 Scp** 20010414.089 127 (M. Simonsen) 20010414.810 126 (M. Reszelski) 20010415.103 127 (M. Simonsen)Why, if he observed GK Per bright on the evening of the 12th, did he wait until the morning of the 15th (*after* the brightening had been confirmed by other observers) to report it?
Putting aside the false claims of credit, his actions can only serve to cast suspicion on the results of the hard work of the majority of dedicated and honest amateur observers.
I don't care if my name appears in obscure astrophysical papers on the behavior of cataclysmic variables. I observe because I enjoy it, and frankly, I can't stop! But fair play is fair play.
If I am the only one who finds this troubling, I shall not bring it up again...not even the next time.
Should any non-CV observers and/or professionals subscribing to this list feel that Mr Simonsen's point as elucidated in vsnet-chat 4203 [quoted below] is in any way petty, I shall make the following points.
There are a number of dedicated (visual) observers of CVs out there, with an international representation, who are fed up of the "prediscovery" of CV outbursts as reported by Patrick Schmeer. Indeed, Mr Simonsen is in no way the only person to have expressed such views.
The effect of these "prediscovery" reports on a not insignificant part of this CV observing community ranges from a general sapping of morale to extreme pissed-offed-ness.
Of course it doesn't cosmically speaking matter who the hummer saw whichever rarely active CV outbursting first, but note the following : -
for _five_ years now I've been hearing on and off about the "pre-discovery" activities of Patrick Schmeer, of people complaining that after they have reported a CV in outburst, a later posted report claiming a _prior_ observation has been sent in by scp.
Over the past 18 months there have been several occasions when a flurry of email postings have appeared in my inbox just after such and such a rare outburst has occured. This has been part of a general interplay between a bevy of observers from the USA, UK, various nations in Continental Europe, and even on occasions people of an Anitpodean persuasion, all having a general "private" and unofficial gripe amongst themselves. On each occasion the topic has been the same: SCP has after the fact "prediscovered" the rare outburst. Indeed, over the past 18 month a disproportionate fraction of my email has been on this self same repeated damn topic.
And let it be clear, the vast majority of such complaints are not instigated by the person who did first see the outburst, but by colleagues and friends who have noticed the "slight".
For instance, there is currently a cc-ed email doing the rounds (it cropped up in my inbox this morning), incidentally _not_ penned by Mr Simonsen, which analytically dissects the scp email prediscovery notification and shows from header details therein that it post-dates Mr Simonsen's announcement, whilst stating a 3 day previous observation.
Yet never is the problem resolved, as these amateurs don't really want to make a fuss and are usually more interested in getting on with observing.
And on occasions the evidence is somewhat circumstantial, and the benefit of the doubt is given.
But given the long standing of this behaviour, and the fact that I'm bored to bleeding death of getting email on it from all over the place every few months, when it _last_ happened, a few months ago now, and the plethora of emails from the annoyed hit my email inbox, I made the following suggestion to everybody, and also stated that if he should repeat the exercise again, that due to my sheer annoyance with the whole never ending crap of it all, I'd make the comment public.
Next time Patrick Schmeer prediscovers a CV in outburst, will _everybody_ kindly send him the following email directly:-
"Dear SCP, we know what you're up to, now kindly pack the fuck in!!!!!!!!!!!"
And I don't care if such sentiments get me unsubscribed/banned, I am bored to death with this problem.
AND you should all note: _ignoring_ this _real_ problem has _not_ worked up to date.
AND, the only way to deal with bullies is to stand up to the sods.
Cheers John Greaves(vsnet-chat 4206)
>If I am the only one who finds this troubling,No, not the only one.
I have no wish to add to the words that Mike and John have already posted on the subject.
Nor do I wish in any way to inflame or aggravate the situation.
I should only like to add, Patrick, my entreaty that you cease and desist in actions that are overshadowing the many fine contributions you have made to observational amateur astronomy.
Such actions can only be to your discredit, and the discredit of amateur astronomy as a whole.
I totally agree with you. PS has done it again. He simply can't stop this nonsense! I will waste no more words over this in the future!
Cheers, Eddy(vsnet-chat 4209)
I think that several observers (Simonsen,Graves,Jones,Muyllaert) have expressend useful and exact ideas about this matter, and I am in accordance with Eddy that we should not waste more words neither energies in these questions. I think that the great majority of VSNET/AAVSO observers love the observational astronomy because we need to observe the stars because is written in our "genetic code", independently of that our name appear in astronomical publications. Such as a spaniard proverb quoted "The medals should be gain himself, and no conferred another that we don't gain..." So, don't waste our energies and observe our dearest CV variables.
Clear skies and good observations, and please SCP observes variable stars before outburst's alerts arrive at your computer...
Sincerely, email@example.com(vsnet-chat 4210)
I'm relatively new to reading the VSNET postings, and the allegation of "forged" observations is a shocker. This is the first I've heard of it.
I don't think your language and tone is at all inappropriate in this case, John. Such forgeries are scientifically useless at best, and, when not detected, make research done with them valueless as well as potentially damaging.
Thanks, Mr. Simonsen, for going public about this. I, and many many others, appreciate the literally invaluable contributions made by dedicated amateurs; some research would be virtually impossible without them.
Cordially, Thom Gandet(vsnet-chat 4212)
Hi, all: I support Mike and John's statements. I have been in the list only for a year now but I had already noticed the Scp "time-delayed discoveries".
When Nova Sagittarii 2001 was discovered by Liller, inmediately, thanks to vsnet-alert we sent an alert to LIADA's discussion list. It ended up with our dediacted observer Alexandre Amorim reporting a visual observation of the new nova.
SGRnova2001 20010225.2410 85 AAXThis observation appeared a day later and I can't remember when, but Scp sent a delayed report of the nova having been observed before my Brazilian colleague.
20010225.215 85 (P. Schmeer) 20010225.241 85 (Alexandre Amorim) 20010225.628 89 (A. Jones) 20010225.694 89 (R. Stubbings)Of course, Rod, Albert, and everyone else had already sent their observations before Scp sent his. Maybe he should change his internet server since it seems to be too slow. I think it's time to stop playing this game. Neither of us make variable star estimates for the glory but for the fun of it, as Mike said. But it doesn't mean it is ok that someone takes profit of our altruistic dedication.
Of course there are no rules in our activity and everybody can send their observations when they feel like doing it but we all do it as fast as possible to help others in observing and to share our experiences. It's a strange thing the way Scp does it. And I insist we can do whatever we want to do, for instance: to watch a star when we feel like. It would be very annoying that someone would tell us when we should take a look at a certain star. Wouldn't it? ;-)
Maybe we are all wrong. Maybe Patrick doesn't seem to be interested in people receiving his very valuable observations until everybody knows about the objects and what is happenning to them... jsut because he is too modest... ;-)...
Of course. Nobody wants to stop enjoyng our hobbie just to start a fight. But nobody wants to play the fool too.
If you are banned all of us are. Period.
I was lucky enough that Scp doesn't look at RCB's (or he does?) because there was a two weeks hole before the deep fading observation of GU Sgr last sunday... Oh, no... I shouldn't have mentioned this!!! Tomorrow we'll be receiving a delayed posting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Cheers and keep observing. Sebastian.(vsnet-chat 4214)
One thing I should note is that Patrick Schmeer uses a relatively small (20-cm) telescope. From my experience with the same aperture instrument, it may be sometimes hard to make a secure annoucement of likely outburst sightings, especially under difficult conditions. Perhaps this may explain why Patrick has wished to wait for other observer's independent discovery. Indeed I have frequently personally requested by Patrick (and was usually asked to not to announce these observations publicly) confirm his possible sightings, most of which were at the very limit of detections. I understand he observes most frequently, and has met a large number of possible sightings of outbursts. This attitude of asking for immediate confirmation of possible outbursts itself is admirable, instead of waiting for additional nights to get a better view. [I personally think he could have asked confirmation more publicly, since the weather of the requested site is not always cooperative].
Should we make yet another list, vsnet-outburst-suspect ?
If only he could use a 40-cm telescope, and could make secure detections, I believe (and I hope) he could have made more earlier public annoucements, as he did in the U Sco outburst.
Regards, Taichi Kato(vsnet-chat 4215)
I can sympathsize for frustration all of you must have been feeling. This type of things are more common in a professional community; and competitions can be a bit more ugly (esp. when some big $$$ involved). You know the kind. The one who keeps making a wrong assessment on a physical model; and when being pointed out and suggested for a new, better model (unpublished), he/she simply replies "oh I know that" and goes on ignoring you. And the next time you find the person, he or she is quoting the model you mentioned. Sometimes it turns into his or her discovery, if you are sloppy and politically inept enough not to publish it fast and first.
Of course, everyone pays attention to the *quality* and *authenticity* of the work, this wouldn't usually be a problem. But that ain't happening these days. That really blows, eh?
Yeah, and that sometimes hurts. Sometimes it makes you want to blow up on someone's face. BUT, that probably doesn't say that we should gang up on a particular person and crucify publicly. For one thing, the whole dicussion isn't probably aimed to RESOLVE the problem that may exist in the system, you know? Yeah, sometimes it feels good to bitch and mourn, but that ain't solving any problem. I am afraid but I am not really following thru the entire argument here. For one I am not a CV person or a visual observer. But I can say that, from what I read so far, no one seems to care to address how to deal with the problem in future. Now that is truly disheartening.
When I face the situation like this, I'd first try to get through the persons and put a sense into them. If that doesn't work, then I just simply ignore them as reasonably and prudently as I can muster. But it seems some of you in vsnet-chat skipped that "putting a sense" part and went on with a grudgefest. That doesn't seem right to me, even if the person may have had it coming, that is.
...and that's my two cents' worth. I can't spare more than that right now as my state tax (due midnight tonight in the U.S.) took away the rest of my savings.
Best regards, Bish Ishibashi(vsnet-chat 4216)
thanks a lot for your very funny comments. You really show a good sense of humour :-)
On the day when Bill Liller announced his discovery of Nova Sgr 2001 I had very little time. Actually I had to leave my house very early in the morning. After having been able to return to the computer I send my obs. to Daniel Green (CBAT) - shortly before the first IAU Circular (No. 7589) on this nova was issued. Unfortunately my estimate did not appear on that IAUC (supposedly Dan received it just minutes too late). However, I had submitted my report several hours BEFORE you posted the AAX observation to VSNet.
Cheers, Patrick(vsnet-chat 4218)
> it may be sometimes hard to make a secure annoucement of likely outburst > sightings, especially under difficult conditions. Perhaps this may > I personally think > he could have asked confirmation more publicly, since the weather of the > requested site is not always cooperativeThe best way to excluding chat like this is sent to vsnet-outburst massage like 'possible outburst of...'. There's few numbers of raports like 'possible sightings' sent to vsnet and then unconfirmed by others. Let's explain human eye is not the best detector and sometimes make 'ghost-visions' but VSNET was create (right?) to verify this. I have still small conclusion about this chat: And stars will be burst as before...' ;-)))
Best regards, Maciej(vsnet-chat 4224)
Dear Bish Ishibashi
Quite valid points. What obviously doesn't come across from the postings is that this specifically is an old problem that has more or less been aired publicly for the first time, and private attempts at resolution have evidently failed. Though this is news to you, as I say in my post, I'm bored with the amount of email generated in the "unofficial" mailing lists [ie bunch of folk talking to each other with lots of cc-ing] every few month that this situation recurs.
Although there is hearsay and anecdotal evidence that could be brought forward, I have neglected to us it. Primarily because the people directly involved could potentially be embarrassed by relating said [some would be able to reverse engineer who the witnesses were]. That is, those that have informed me of when and how they were shafted, don't want to get involved in any sort of argument. They want to look at their stars, log their observations, post their logs, and maybes between times sleep occasionally.
For anyone interested there is an objective means of analysing this= situation.
Taichi Kato gives a clue to the test in his post. When scp noted EG Cnc and U Sco in outburst, he reported them quickly and adequately.
The test is to see how regularly he reports his observations to the various organisations... ...on a regular basis or only on the occasion of noteworthy outbursts. I have been informed in the past that the case is the latter, although I must confess to not testing rigorously testng archive data to confirm this myself. Actually it has to be seen on the fly, as archives don't include the date/time of positing of an observation, just the date/time given to the observation.
So if we are given such an intermittent reporting pattern, the follow up test is to check the distribution within the pattern. What you would be looking for is a bunch of important outbursts immediately notified, as separate to a bunch of equally important outbursts post-notified as pre-discoveries.
Mr Simonsen provided examples of the latter, but neglected to provide examples of the former, which would have been an informative "control". I personally find it incongruous for a need to inform as soon as possible to lie alongside a disinterest in reporting. Another, more extended control (rather than personal opinion) would be to take a sample of other regular observers of rare outburst CVs and check who they report, both in general and specifically with regards to actual outbursts.
You see over and above any amount of bitching that may have crept into this, there is an IMPORTANT SCIENTIFIC point here. Rise time from minimum to maximum for CVs is temporally short and rarely well covered, and invariably even then only by visual observers due to the irregular intervals between outbursts. This is especially true for CVs with inter-outburst periods of the order of years to decades.
What is deemed interesting in CV research follows "fashions", as does everything else. In 20 to 50 to 100 years time someone may just decide to gather together what little archival visual data there is to investigate rise time profiles for these rare outburst objects. They may not too, but they may.
Well, a bunch of data from the 1990s and just after is going to cause bias due to these spurious pre-discoveries, as they significantly increase the rise time of these rare objects, as well as probably changing the profile of said rise.
Of course, the insidious aspect here is that Patrick Schmeer is responsible for good and valuable work and important notifications of rare events, of which the aforementioned EG Cnc and U Sco are only two examples. Thus it becomes difficult to discern, at a distance, what data is spurious and what is valid.
You know, this topic only appears personal cos there's an individual doing it. Indeed, there is a UK precedent here.
In the late sixites / early seventies one John Glasby was the head of the BAA VSS. His main interest was CVs, and this at a time when probably few professionals new what a CV was in astronomical terms, let alone amateurs [CV in common UK English means Curriculum Vitae (okay, that's Latin, I know), which is what US English calls a resume, and most sixties professors would have had a CV]. There's even a "popular" book Glasby wrote on the topic, and we all know general non-academic books on CVs are damn rare (strangely, the local library even has a copy of this book).
Unfortunately, it turned out that most of his observations were spurious. Later investigation proved that, for example, observations of SS Cyg would be logged when said was below the horizon. This was apparently eventually revealed by a BAA member and is covered in an article in the JBAA, but unfortunately I forget the reference. [If somebody out there who knows more about this could give some better details I feel it would be informative and of interest. With care the points can be made without making it personal, and they are important points. Is John Isles still out there in vsnet-chat land, and do you know anything more concrete on this topic? This is in _no way_ an insinuation that Mr Isles was in any way involved in this matter, it's just that he was a lot closer to this event and organisation in time and space than I am/was, and has a good general knowledge of the amateur variable star obs field].
Anyway, the point is, what does one do with archival observations by Glasby? He can't have invented all his observations. So, do you pick and choose or just bin the lot? And how do you discuss the topic without mentioning the person themself? In fact, what did/does the BAA VSS do with these observations?
So, the current thread will no doubt be brought to a close soon due to becoming unproductive. This will probably occur more out of politeness than any form or resolution. Thus the whole damn thing will repeat again in a few months, just as it has many times before [there's a QY Per thread in the vsnet list archives if you want to see an earlier (possibly more vitriolic) example, for instance. That wasn't the last time this occured, but the last time it became so public].
This ain't a witch hunt, it's a problem that needs resolving, and the only solution left is "whistle blowing", cos damn all else has worked. So, we've whistle-blown in an attempt at protecting the archives. Yae, some folk may have taken the opportunity to engage in a bit of spleen venting, whether I am one of those I cannot say, as I can never be objective about my own thoughts.
Variable star observing is not an "egocentric sport", and as noted above and in other posts, most observers look at the stars just cos they want to, some probably find the whole activity quite therapeutic and personally enjoyable, without any regard to science or reporting. But visual observers capable of putting in long hours on a regular basis, and surviving neighbours, general light pollution and abysmal weather, are getting few and far between. Any newbie to this field would be encouraged and delighted to have discovered a CV in a rare outburst, and possibly moderately pleased with themselves. It would after all be a reward for effort invested. Okay, it isn't important whether they're pleased with themselves or not, but look at it this way, should they get this discovery "taken away" from them by some dubious pre-discovery, the negative emotions they could feel would no doubt be far stronger than any positive ones that they could have felt, and they may actually be discouraged from following their pursuit further. After all, what's the point of doing redundant work [this is even taking the neutral viewpoint that the newbie is not experienced enough to realise that the pre-discovery may be dubious].
There is enough trouble for the field of visual observing at the moment engendered by a handful of professionals decrying the field in general and the validity of visual observations in particular and suggesting we should all go out and buy ccds and computers and such like, without amateurs shafting each other. So, we may not have found a solution, nor any idea of how to find one, but at least folk now know what is going on, and what to look for in future.
Sorry to be so long winded. Cheers John John Greaves UK(vsnet-chat 4248)
I'm sure there are many who feel this public repudiation is unwarranted, but they are mostly unaware of the ongoing bad feelings Patrick has generated amongst most of the CV observers I know.
I am still learning the finer points of the art of visual observing. I have learned a lot from more experienced observers through my internet correspondence, and especially, the vsnet list postings. Indeed, I believe if you don't learn something new each day you might as well stay in bed.
I would never have thought that observing variables could turn out to be so political, frustrating and humiliating until I was introduced to PS. Many of us have had our reputations "Schmeered" via the internet both publicly and privately. At least *we* have the balls to put our observations out there to be publicly scrutinized and criticized by others if they are spurious or in error. Everyone makes mistakes. It is my goal to reduce my errors to a very small percentage and have the majority of my humble data accepted as worthy of inclusion in AAVSO and VSNET databases.
The most distressing part of this whole issue is the fact that if PS *is* fabricating these observations, what does that do to the scientific value and perceived validity of all the data other visual observers have spent long, cold nights gathering! That thought PSes me off.
I know now, from MANY private emails, that I am not alone in this opinion.
As for starting a new list, vsnet-outburst-suspected, go for it, I will probably be your most frequent contributor!
You might even name it vsnet-simonsen-AGAIN??!!
Regards, Mike Simonsen(vsnet-chat 4249)
I understand Ishibashi's standpoint (and Stan's as well), but I think we "VSNETers" (at least as one of its administrators) should not introduce a "bad custom" of the professional community. The first person who have publicly announced the event/discovery/idea should be always credited. Of course, there may be instances such a "local" rule could be easily overridden in some professional journals (let's consider who actually discovered the eclipsing nature of the dwarf nova RX J0909.8+1849 = HS 0907+1902 -- a complete search thourgh professional journals will give the truth?). I understand such a kind of approach is fatal to our morals, who have been developping an internet community as a medium for free and quick exhange of information, and could finally destruct the amateur astronomy -- a very sad thing. Perhaps the best thing we can do is to memorize who have overridden the priority.
The 2001 outburst of GK Per was first discovered and announced by Mike Simonsen, and prediscovery confirmatory observations were later posted by Patrick Schmeer. However, GK Per has been always received attention since 2001 January, when Sandor Papp (relayed by L. Kiss) reported a possible brightening in vsnet-obs 31824. Anyone will be able to find comments "bright" or something else in subsequent reports in vsnet-obs.
Regards, Taichi Kato(vsnet-chat 4250)
I don't rather think he is fabricating these observations. He is indeed very frquently observing, and sent me and other colleagues many e-mails (and phones in the past ... when I was at the observatory telescope, I had a feeling that I have received nightly requests...) to confirm his possible outburst detection.
I just received from an e-mail from him to confirm the possible outburst of QW Ser, which he may have seen at 13.7 on Apr. 19.128 UT. I believe he could not have fabricated these figures.
Regards, Taichi Kato(vsnet-chat 4252)
I have just received another private e-mail from Patrick Schmeer that he thought he glipmsed GK Per at the very limit of mag 12 last evening (in unfavourable conditions). But he states that Bouma had a much better limiting magnitude last evening, so Bouma's observation should be much more trust-worthy. (This kind of e-mails from him are not frequent ones; most of his e-mails are request for confirmation of possible sightings). There may appear another Schmeer's (retrospective-looking) report if GK Per is confirmed to brighten further. I think no one is apparently in error, but the result is understandable if Schmeer's observation was done at 1-sigma detection level. The problem would be summarized that if a 1-sigma detection precedes a several-sigma detection, which observer is more credited for the discovery of the event...
Regards, Taichi Kato(vsnet-chat 4253)
Ugh, it sounds like I was *encouraging* the VSNET community to practice the *bad* custom of the professional community, or whatever Dr. Kato implied by that statement.
But that's definitely NOT what I meant in my letter. THE KEY POINT OF MY LETTER was that the vsnet-chat forum should be a place to discuss/resolve any outstanding problem, conflict of interest, etc. I think John reckoned my point (I am not sure if Stan did, however), and there went John's reply to my letter, addressing that his "whistle-blowing" was a part of resolution to single out an individual who has been accused of falsifying some, if not all, observations.
It's not for me to comment whether this accusation is correct. And John, I do not know how to respond to that serious accusation [but it goes without saying that I do care about the issue]. But the problem you have raised here is more important (to me, say the least) than the actual case: how do we really authenticate visual observations? I honestly hope that from here on this thread moves toward discussing on that question rather than singling out a particular case. That was a part of the whole message that I wanted to convey with my first letter, i.e., let a discussion be more fruitful, rather than singling out one bad apple (allegedly) out of many (????).
Now I said all I had to say. I am just going to shut up my big mouth and listen what the rest of you would have to say.
I would like to join in, but since there have now been a few (over)reactions (not just by the usual suspects MS and JG) to my GK Per report posted to VSNet I feel inclined to make some comments.
First of all I do hardly understand the excitement (hysteria?) that has been caused by my report of a brightening by (at that time) merely 0.2(!!!) magnitudes - a brightening that may or may not evolve into a full (minor) outburst (the most recent - trustworthy - observations suggest that the latter case is the more likely one).
My original report: Subject: [vsnet-outburst 1980] GK Per going into outburst? GK PERSEI (NA+NLDQ+UGSS) Apr. 7.833 UT, 13.0 ; 12.819, 12.8 Sequence: AAVSO Instrument: 203-mm SCT Unfortunately I could not observe GK Per on Friday (thin clouds in the Per region) and Saturday evening (overcast, later snow!). The last minor outburst of this 1901 nova started on 1999 Feb. 18 and lasted until 1999 May 2. Happy Easter! Patrick P.S.: PERGK 20010407.833 130 Scp PERGK 20010412.819 128 Scp
MS wrote: [vsnet-chat 4203] GK Per in outburst-no kidding ... >20010405.076 132 (M. Simonsen) >20010405.817 132 (M. Reszelski) >**20010407.833 130 Scp** >**20010412.819 128 Scp** >20010414.089 127 (M. Simonsen) >20010414.810 126 (M. Reszelski) >20010415.103 127 (M. Simonsen) > >Why, if he observed GK Per bright on the evening of the 12th, did he wait >until the morning of the 15th (*after* the brightening had been confirmed by >other observers) to report it?
Well, I did not see GK Per BRIGHT on the evening of the 12th, just a LITTLE brighter than usual. After the recent hype about U Gem brightenings I wanted to be careful with posting an alert, and follow this old nova's behaviour for one or two more nights. Alas, as my observing report suggests the weather here was not good enough for further observations, and when Taichi Kato announced the possible brightening, I thought it would be helpful to add my two most recent data points. I posted my report to vsnet-outburst and vsnet(-campaign) -ip and not to vsnet-obs because of the inclusion of information on the last outburst (what may have been of interest to some readers). [the very bright readers may have noticed that I wrote "last outburst" and not "previous outburst" ;-)]
Finally please note that I did not announce my detection of a GK Per outburst (as suggested by MS). The subject line was just meant as a comment on the most recent behaviour of the nova as documented in VSNet postings. (something like "Re: [vsnet-outburst 1957] GK Per brighter than usual?" might have been less ambiguous, but I am sure it would have caused the same world- wide outcry ;-))
Regards, Patrick(vsnet-chat 4255)
> > I understand Ishibashi's standpoint (and Stan's as well), but I think we > >"VSNETers" (at least as one of its administrators) should not introduce > >a "bad custom" of the professional community. The first person who > > Ugh, it sounds like I was *encouraging* the VSNET community to practice > the *bad* custom of the professional community, or whatever Dr. Kato implied > by that statement.No, no ;-). As one of professional astronomers, I know what is the practice. I should have added that this is not a custom what *all* professionals do, but there are many more prefessionals who are trying as much as possible to encourage and qualify amateur astronomers even in the professional astronomical context. We have received a number of such messages (we have regarded Ishibashi-san's message as such) encouraging amateur astronomers and/or amateur-professional cooperations. However, there indeed exist professional astronomers who publish amatuer's findings as if they are discovered by these professional authors. The context may be different from the original thread, but I suspect that the recent problem of delayed prediscovery announcements is partly introduced from such kind of professional attitudes, and resulting in frustrations and/or discordance between observers. I think professionals are in some part responsible for that.
Regards, Taichi Kato(vsnet-chat 4256)
If an observer reports only non-spurious (or non-fabricated) data, one can easily imagine the introduction of a bias if the observer preselect observations. If an observer reports "positive" observations only, outburst duty cycle should be always larger than the actuality. If an observer reports on rare bursters only, the outburst frequency of such objects may be overestimated against other objects. This one of reasons why "reporting all observations, including negative ones" is strongly recommended. In other words, observers who are supposed to report only selected reports (in their final form), future analysts may be obliged to ignore these reports.
> Variable star observing is not an "egocentric sport", and as noted above > and in other posts, most observers look at the stars just cos they want to,In your opinion, is there any field of astronomical activities which could be called as an "egocentric sport"? If there is, my feeling is that variable star observing is considered at least by some people getting closer to the sport than has been ever thought.
Regards, Taichi Kato(vsnet-chat 4257)
Dr. Kato has an excellent point: report all observations. Might I respectfully point out that much of our present controversy might have been avoided it we ALL reported ALL our observations, including negative and uncertain ones, in a prompt and timely fashion, denoting observations we are unsure of with a mark (: or ?) and perhaps with an accompanying definitive observation such as
UR LUP 13.0? UR LUP <12.6I know it is a pain to type this stuff, but it is VERY useful. A gap in a light curve filled by a negative data point will answer the researcher's question: "Was there an outburst that week or not?" which helps in understanding the outburst behavior of these irregularly burping stars. There have been several times I would have paid good money to find the answer to that question. Not a problem for a well observed star like SS Cyg, but vital for many others.
I know looking for a faint star and not seeing it may seem a disappointment and seeing a rare outburst (especially first) is a thrill. When we examine the light curves in the harsh light of day, those gaps are even more disappointing. To learn (or suspect) that there could have been information on the behavior on a star during a gap gnaws at the very innards of the person investigating the star's behavior.
Sheepishly, I will admit to being a prime offender in failing to report, possessing a number of CCD observations that have not seen the light of day in any of CBA, AAVSO, or VSNET files. And I know there is no UR LUP but it does offer a light-hearted tone (in the English language) and also won't be confused with a real observation.
I'm afraid that I wasn't making myself clear in my original comments. Most visual observers of variables I've ever come across just like to observe their variables, and aren't after any qudos or rewards or such, is what I was trying to say.
I suppose the problems arise when someone decides that being first is important, albeit however irrelevant it truly is.
>However, there indeed exist professional astronomers who publish amatuer's >findings as if they are discovered by these professional authors.WHAT!!!! Lynch the buggers, that's what I say!
I don't know what to do about it. It is indeed the case that the problem couldn't possibly arise if some sort of fail safe system was in place. I _think_ the CBAT system just doesn't count pre-discoveries re novae, supernovae and comets etc. First come first served. But this is part of the problem in the case of CVs, however, as we have a strange thing going on. Priority and accreditation of discovery is no big thing in CV outbursts, even ones that outburst infrequently. It don't really matter. This is where the word insidious comes in again. Because it doesn't really matter, it is not easy to notice if somebody decides to use the reporting system in this way for a personal agenda.
And once someone starts playing this game, then it does begin to matter! A lot of folk have repeatedly complained about this behaviour, and don't like it.
I've had my ear seriously bent on this topic and this specific perpetrator over the years, and as such I'm a tad disappointed that one or two others, besides Mike Simonsen, haven't come up with some more examples/evidence. [You know who you are brumboy, or are you just on hols?]
Cheers, John, JG, UK
Didn't mean to offend. Your comments make the whole episode more inexplicable to an outsider - like I said, the books attracted a number of people to VS astronomy so why prejudice a reputation by inventing measures?
Regards, Stan(vsnet-chat 4263)
A potential problem arises in the present case of "possible outburst of QW Ser" suggested (privately) by Patrick Schmeer. If there is no additional observation, should he register his possible postive observation, or should he withdraw it because there is no confirmation? Though I suppose the latter approach might be more frequently taken, this could introduce additional bias. My preference is the first approach, to report all observations as they were preceived. Some possible positive sightings may turn out to be spurious, and other negative observations may turn out to be simple chance non-detection of true outbursts, but are statistically less biased than those observations suffering from retrograde selections.
Regards, Taichi Kato(vsnet-chat 4264)
Variable star observing is not exclusively visual observations. Even apart from this, I came across a number of observers who are exceptional in your terms. Probably this is because the field is closely related to nova searches. Some frequently requested matters and questions include:
* Why a discoverer of a variable star is not given rights to assign its name (as in minor planet)?
* The nova nomenclature system should be separated from the general variable star nomenclature system.
* There should be a center of crediting variable star discoveries.
* There is no use to record observations of already well-known objects.
* I'm not interested in following already discovered objects.
* I don't want to circulate my outburst detection until its importance becomes evident. I would like to maximize the importance of my discovery.
Well, this may represent extreme part of such reactions, but are the actual words I have heard.
> I suppose the problems arise when someone decides that being first is > important, albeit however irrelevant it truly is.Who created the famous phrase, "first-ever visually observed/detected outburst" ? ;-)
Regards, Taichi Kato(vsnet-chat 4266)
OK, maybe I am a "positive" observer, but may false detections occur that often??
I wouldn't report something that I'm not sure I have seen. Even taking this approach I know some time I can make a mistake, but here it looks like a spurious detection is an every day thing. I totally agree with Taichi and Lew: I think all observations made should be all observations reported. If I decide not to report soemething, then I should swallow my desire of being recognized as the discoverer. I mean: if I wasn't sure it is like I didn't see it. If I was sure enough, I reported it and that's all.
I note Patrick continue to follow his private messages policy. Patrick: Noone is going to crucify you if you make a mistake. Make all of your announcements publicly and this discussion will be coming to an (end?).
You look like your mind is set about it, in spite of the current situation. I would really like to enjoy of your reports as I do with Mike's or Maciej's.
Cheers, Sebastian.(vsnet-chat 4268)
Wow!!! It is ever worse than I imagined!!! Things could be far _worse_ then...
...I can see it now, sponsorship, ie "this variable star was brought to you by Fred's Light Buckets (TM), and cannot be observed or studied in anyway without express permission from the owners" ;-) or should that be :-(
That's interesing information, thanks for sharing it.
NB if anybody really must have a star named after them, they better take up discovering and measuring new binary stars, then when you've submitted enough stuff, you'll end up with catalogue objects name after you, such as "Fredson 1", "Fredson 2" etc. However, this has got to be meaningful work, not just any old adjacent pair of stars, most binaries have been found, new ones tend to be of subarcsec separation, which is not easy anywhere, and the only people who will probably use this nomenclature [if at all] will be other binary star folk, a somewhat diminished group nowadays!
Cheers John John Greaves(vsnet-chat 4283)
Well, the reality may be even more closer to this. If outburst detections were to be announced after the outburst is over, and announcements were only privately communicated to who have expressed to do something in return, the net effect is virtually the same as you imagined. Unfortunately, some parties act as if they are promoting this...
Regards, Taichi Kato(vsnet-chat 4289)
Historically, there were instances what may have been called as above. When variable star charts are difficult to access (esp. those of faint cataclysmics), there was a custom (as I heard) that a new observer must first ask permission to observe some particular variable star to the 'variable star authority'. The observer was then allowed to use the chart. Some complained that they were not allowed to observe some stars (the reasons of denials were: the chart is preliminary, the object is too poorly known to be issued as a public target, your ability is not enough to observe this star etc.)
Sounds ridiculous, but this was a real story I have heard and partly experienced.
Regards, Taichi Kato(vsnet-chat 4303)
I have just returned home from a week's holiday to find many recent postings on reporting of observations 'after the event', seeking confirmation and reporting all observations (including negative ones).
I am certainly guilty of not reporting all of my observations through the vsnet. They are, however, all reported through my parent organisation, the VSS RASNZ, and more recently through the AAVSO as a copy of my VSS dbf data file (though I am not sure if the AAVSO actually process these). My reporting to the vsnet is usually of specific observations of potentially interesting events and only sometimes include other observations made on the same date. This is also related to my having some concerns about duplication of observations within the various international data bases. Additionally, I would hope researchers of variable stars would seek observational data from all of the international groups and not just rely on data posted, for example, only to the vsnet. Any thoughts on this duplication?
Reporting for me is most often related to a simple lack of time on my part - I usually key my hand written observations into the PC many days later - and have yet to start on my April observations. I admire guys like Rod Stubbings and Andrew Pearce (to mention a local few) who obtain their observations, key them and report them seemingly all in the one motion.
Regarding posting observations after the event, my guilt relates to recent observations of V4018 Sgr in which I was endeavouring to establish a better timing for the onset of decline of this under observed ZAND star. The following observations of CU Vel may be of more interest.
VELCU 20010217.7173 <145 WPX VELCU 20010219.5173 148 WPX VELCU 20010221.4451 <145 WPXThe positive observation was essentially at the limit of visibility for me and none of these observations were reported through the vsnet (but were included in my usual VSS monthly report). They appear to show a short-lived flare rather than a true outburst. Interestingly, some 35 days later the vsnet carried reports of an outburst of CU Vel which peaked near magnitude 11.2 about March 26. Perhaps many similar flares have been seen by other observers who at times seek private confirmation or simply do not report them? I recall several years ago seeing a similar flare in CU Vel prior to an outburst.
The vsnet postings have not yet made reference to such flares. After encouragement from Nikolaus Vogt, these events were investigated by Frank Bateson of the VSS RASNZ a number of years ago and three papers resulted in the Publications of the VSS RASNZ under the title 'Do Some Dwarf Novae Have Short-lived Flares or Precoursers to Outburst'. These appear in Publ 16 (1991) pp75-80, Publ 17 (1991) pp74-75 and Publ 19 (1994) pp 54-55, and discuss events seen in the southern stars V442 Cen, OY Car, TU Men, Z Cha, TW Vir and TU Ind.
These papers note the following intervals between the flares and true outburst, with due regard to the long cycle period for OY Car and TU Men:
V442 Cen 4 to 14 days (average 8.8 days) OY Car 16 to 174 days with one observer reporting a decline of 12.3 to <13.5 in 5 minutes. TU Men 20 to 222 days Z Cha 5 to 100 days (average 36 days) TW Vir 4 to 8 days TU Ind 11 daysI understand observations at wavelengths other than the visual have since confirmed the existence of these events. Has a similar investigation been made into more northerly stars?
Regards (and sorry for the long post)
Peter Williams Heathcote NSW(vsnet-chat 4308)
There has been controversy and statements on the chat-list lately and I would like to belatedly add some of my views on this. Unfortunately I have little time to do so and am risking incompleteness and possibly a too superficial analysis.
I can hardly believe that an observer who has proven himself in the past is willingly forging observations now....
Some observers do put large emphasis on discovering outbursts and abnormal cataclysmic behaviour and are less interested to make or report follow-up observations. Personally I don't think it is wrong to only observe for discoveries or to preferentially report on them only. As every CV observer knows, it gives great satisfaction and excitement to be the first to detect something. There surely is a non-spoken competition here and probably a very sound one too.
I totally and openly disagree with certain (honourable) arm chair astronomers on the point of the importance of discoveries and their TIMELY announcements. There is a lot to gain by the astronomical community from early detections. I even think a significant part of recent progress in CV behaviour analysis stemms from measurements following early detection alerts. Therefore an effort to give incentives to do so must be encouraged rather than to minimise the achievement.
Kind regards (& no hard feelings, John!),
Berto Monard / MLF Pretoria(vsnet-chat 4311)
It's my understanding AAVSO will process and archive them. I think there's also been a long history of co-operation between RASNZ and AAVSO. The folks at AAVSO are very helpful and an e-mail to them at firstname.lastname@example.org about your submittals would get you a prompt reply.
As a researcher who makes good use of amateur observations, timeliness is very much appreciated, especially of unusual events, such as Be star or CV outbursts or the discovery of new eclipsing binaries using HIPPARCOS data. I have only recently become acquainted with VSNET, and have used data obtained through only AAVSO so far.
It's my understanding that the AAVSO data is "evaluated" to eliminate obvious misidentifications or wildly divergent observations that are simply mistakes; I don't know exactly what the standards or processes they use to do that. The AAVSO data has an advantage in that the comparison stars used are standardized for each star, so there is no uncertainty there; zero-point errors are therefore minimized.
Sorting out duplication is potentially very time consuming.
There are other things I'd much rather do!
I don't know if AAVSO keeps track of the average zero-point error
for individual observers and then applies that to the raw
observations before making them available to researchers.
The situation is much more favorable than in the past. Nowadays most
variable star organizations (including VSNET) use the international
standard V system as comparison star sequences. I believe newly created
variable star charts (disregarding some preliminary ones for early
observations of novae etc.) will be eventually in common magnitude scale
regardless of the chart source. VSNET is one of such organizations which
took the initiative
to standardize variable star charts using Hipprcos/Tycho
magnitudes and CCD V measurements.
Well, Berto, if I'd an inch for every person whose griped to me over scp's
gazumping over the years, I'd own one mother of an objective ;)
yours reductio ad absurdly
On a more serious note, I don't suppose I can let the "armchair astronomer"
...so, almost exactly 3 year ago the local river burst its banks in a bit
of a flash flood. Due to various consequent rebuilding work, both to the
home, and to the local area in general, [plus a speight of new housing on
the flood plain (go figure local government, eh?) all leading to a dramatic
increase in light pollution], I've not been able to actively observe since.
For a start, I can barely get the 'scopes mount out into the back garden
without scratching the fridge, and our lass would kill us if I scratched
the "new" fridge [the old fridge got quite scratched, though it floated
rather impressively during the flood, by the way].
You do not express it explicitly but I think you mean that HT Cas is Scp's
most favourite "forging"/"faking"/"fabricating" target. I remember three
cases where the outlaw was involved. They include one negative observation
immediately prior to detection, two "pre-discovery" uncertain/suspected
estimates, one "post-discovery" independent detection, and one typo.
Hey, that makes five, not three! He even now cannot stop faking!
Well, if anyone is interested I can post the full stories to vsnet-chat.
Please note that in a similar number of cases Scp made the last negative
observations before an outburst detection.
To name a few : LL And,
DO Dra, ... - all from my memory.
But of course you can (and
probably will) call all these observations "fabricated", too :-)
I was pretty saddened by the fact that he was not the only professional
astronomer who showed considerable lack of common sense during that
I (and hopefully many others) really do not need guidance from this self
appointed fighter for justice.
Only few contributors (Kato, Jensen) got it right during that discussion.
You may not know but there actually is a written VSNet charta, in which is
proclaimed that the vsnet-alert address "is for alert on the discovery of ...
rare outbursts ...". I do not read anything about "all outbursts" here.
Many astronomers have subcribed to vsnet-alert but not to vsnet-obs.
Because they want to be informed about the most important variable star
events, and do not want to sift through tens of postings and hundreds of
observations a day. But if you report each and every dwarf nova outburst
to vsnet-alert the rate of postings is going to increase in an inflationary
manner. You should try the opposite: keep the rate of postings to vsnet-
alert as low as possible.
Another proof of Taichi Kato's creative genius! I think
was the only positive outcome of that nasty discussion. The newly born
baby quickly grew up and is now a healthy and well-fed child :-)
Poor boy(s)! Wrong example again! The only person who can be accused of
wrongdoing in the "QY Per case"
is MS himself, since he cheated twice
(once intentionally, once inadvertently).
Again, if anyone is interested I can post the full story to vsnet-chat.
This was not an original fashion of VSNET, but some of readers may
remember this trend was triggered by (almost) daily postings to
AAVSO News Flashes
(and later their
which reports all outbursts. It may have been a natural consequence
that new observers
who read these new flashes and annoucements start posting
Many professional and amateur astronomers have written
to us and the AAVSO headquarter to stop doing a nonsense job of sending
(and no information), but we didn't receive any
constructive comment from the AAVSO, and announcements continued to be
posted. It was only when we provided and a made an notification to
the AAVSO a new appropriate place (vsnet-aavsonews) instead of vsnet-alert,
when they changed the manner.
We can depict another example how we were PS-ed. A fresh case
I remember was on V1141 Aql.
On early (in UT) 1999 October 1, we have personally received from
Patrick Schmeer to "please check V1141 Aql". He subsequently sent
us privately preliminary CCD magnitude estimate of 16. No announcement
was publicly made by Patrick at that time.
Later on 1999 October 1, Rod Stubbings visually detected this
outburst (vsnet-obs 23535).
Patrick Schmeer quickly informed his outburst detection to vsnet-alert
without mentioning Stubbing's detection.
Patrick Schmeer sent (again privately) a message on Oct. 3 to request
for high-speed photometry. I can't resist myself to forward this e-mail
I can't understand his motivation
why to call for detailed observations (of such an *important* outburst,
as he suggested in
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> ...recent observations of V4018 Sgr in which I was endeavouring to
> establish a better timing for the onset of decline of this under
> observed ZAND star.
Symbiotic stars are under-observed as a class I think. One of
our observing programs here is long-term monitoring and short
time-series observations of symbiotics. (Thanks for picking one of
the more neglected ones!) Amateur observations of these stars are
really needed, to both supplement and complement professional
observations. (To roll out my particular little soap box for a
second: As with so many unusual variable stars, there is also a
real need for as near-simultaneous photometry and spectroscopy
See how the V1141 Aql case was _positively_ resolved by a
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I don't know if AAVSO keeps track of the average zero-point error for individual observers and then applies that to the raw observations before making them available to researchers.
The situation is much more favorable than in the past. Nowadays most variable star organizations (including VSNET) use the international standard V system as comparison star sequences. I believe newly created variable star charts (disregarding some preliminary ones for early observations of novae etc.) will be eventually in common magnitude scale regardless of the chart source. VSNET is one of such organizations which took the initiative to standardize variable star charts using Hipprcos/Tycho magnitudes and CCD V measurements.
Well, Berto, if I'd an inch for every person whose griped to me over scp's gazumping over the years, I'd own one mother of an objective ;)
yours reductio ad absurdly
On a more serious note, I don't suppose I can let the "armchair astronomer" bit ride...
...so, almost exactly 3 year ago the local river burst its banks in a bit of a flash flood. Due to various consequent rebuilding work, both to the home, and to the local area in general, [plus a speight of new housing on the flood plain (go figure local government, eh?) all leading to a dramatic increase in light pollution], I've not been able to actively observe since. For a start, I can barely get the 'scopes mount out into the back garden without scratching the fridge, and our lass would kill us if I scratched the "new" fridge [the old fridge got quite scratched, though it floated rather impressively during the flood, by the way].
You do not express it explicitly but I think you mean that HT Cas is Scp's most favourite "forging"/"faking"/"fabricating" target. I remember three cases where the outlaw was involved. They include one negative observation immediately prior to detection, two "pre-discovery" uncertain/suspected estimates, one "post-discovery" independent detection, and one typo. Hey, that makes five, not three! He even now cannot stop faking! Well, if anyone is interested I can post the full stories to vsnet-chat.
Please note that in a similar number of cases Scp made the last negative observations before an outburst detection. To name a few : LL And, UV Per, HT Cas, CY UMa, T Leo, HV Vir, V592 Her, IR Com, DO Dra, ... - all from my memory. But of course you can (and probably will) call all these observations "fabricated", too :-)
I was pretty saddened by the fact that he was not the only professional astronomer who showed considerable lack of common sense during that discussion.
I (and hopefully many others) really do not need guidance from this self appointed fighter for justice.
Only few contributors (Kato, Jensen) got it right during that discussion. You may not know but there actually is a written VSNet charta, in which is proclaimed that the vsnet-alert address "is for alert on the discovery of ... rare outbursts ...". I do not read anything about "all outbursts" here. Many astronomers have subcribed to vsnet-alert but not to vsnet-obs. Guess why? Because they want to be informed about the most important variable star events, and do not want to sift through tens of postings and hundreds of observations a day. But if you report each and every dwarf nova outburst to vsnet-alert the rate of postings is going to increase in an inflationary manner. You should try the opposite: keep the rate of postings to vsnet- alert as low as possible.
Another proof of Taichi Kato's creative genius! I think vsnet-outburst was the only positive outcome of that nasty discussion. The newly born baby quickly grew up and is now a healthy and well-fed child :-)
Poor boy(s)! Wrong example again! The only person who can be accused of wrongdoing in the "QY Per case" is MS himself, since he cheated twice (once intentionally, once inadvertently). Again, if anyone is interested I can post the full story to vsnet-chat.
This was not an original fashion of VSNET, but some of readers may remember this trend was triggered by (almost) daily postings to vsnet-alert of AAVSO News Flashes (and later their announcements), which reports all outbursts. It may have been a natural consequence that new observers who read these new flashes and annoucements start posting similar outburst detections. Many professional and amateur astronomers have written to us and the AAVSO headquarter to stop doing a nonsense job of sending daily announcements (and no information), but we didn't receive any constructive comment from the AAVSO, and announcements continued to be posted. It was only when we provided and a made an notification to the AAVSO a new appropriate place (vsnet-aavsonews) instead of vsnet-alert, when they changed the manner.
We can depict another example how we were PS-ed. A fresh case I remember was on V1141 Aql.
On early (in UT) 1999 October 1, we have personally received from Patrick Schmeer to "please check V1141 Aql". He subsequently sent us privately preliminary CCD magnitude estimate of 16. No announcement was publicly made by Patrick at that time.
Later on 1999 October 1, Rod Stubbings visually detected this outburst (vsnet-obs 23535).
Patrick Schmeer quickly informed his outburst detection to vsnet-alert (vsnet-alert 3541), without mentioning Stubbing's detection.
Patrick Schmeer sent (again privately) a message on Oct. 3 to request for high-speed photometry. I can't resist myself to forward this e-mail to vsnet-alert (vsnet-alert 3546). I can't understand his motivation why to call for detailed observations (of such an *important* outburst, as he suggested in vsnet-alert 3541) only privately.
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