Astronomy it is one of the few sciences that amateurs can still have an important contribution to the advance of the knowledge. This is done mainly through observations with private telescopes and instruments, following with proper methodology that leads to useful results. Simultaneously, it can be also achieved through hardware/software development and data analysis (see the rapid increase in Citizen Science projects). Although this is not the goal for most amateur clubs around the globe there is a number of organizations focusing on this approach.
The main motivation behind the founding of the HAAA in 2003 was the lack of this particular representation of the observational and research approach in Greece. Building upon the experience of other well established clubs around the world, such as the British Astronomical Association (since 1890) and the American Association of Variable Star Observers (since 1911), the structure of the HAAA is based on a number of Working Groups, each one focusing on a specific celestial object. Currently, there are 7 active WGs: Solar Observations and Records, Comets, Planets, Variable Stars, Meteors, Artificial Satellites, and History of Astronomy. Each group is coordinated by a professional or an experienced amateur astronomer.
The working groups are our operational spearhead. They are actually responsible to realize the main purpose of the HAAA which can be summarized to:
- take all initiatives and perform the necessary actions to train observers in the particular methods required by each object
- collect their observations and forward/make them available to professional and other fellow amateurs
- perform the data analysis to obtain scientific products and communicate them (e.g. with publications in scientific journals, presentations in national and international conferences)
- help to enhance professional-amateur collaborations by contributing to existing ones and building new ones whenever needed
Since 2003 we have run multiple successful projects including the creation of data bases (e.g. for solar and planetary imaging), observing campaigns (e.g. the eclipse of epsilon Aurigae, missions to observe the total solar eclipses in various places including Hagzhou, China in 2009 and Mangaia, Cook Islands in 2010). Moreover, from various observational projects we have performed the data analysis and/or have contributed with observations that have led to a significant number of publications with at least 9 of them in scientific, peer-reviewed, journals, 16 in proceedings of various international conferences, and 12 published in proceedings of local (Greek) conferences.
For a more detailed list see our corresponding Publications page.