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Speakers Bureau

The Speakers Bureau is a service established for people and groups looking for enthusiastic, knowledgeable speakers to provide informative presentations for astronomy clubs, star parties, banquets, Scout Troops, Astronomy Day activities and other public and private astronomy functions. Contact us if you are interested in securing a speaker or becoming one yourself.

NOTE: Many of our speakers are willing and able to do remote talks via Skype or other VOIP applications. This allows us to serve more clubs and functions, and minimizes the costs and travel time involved in giving presentations.

Below is a list of our speakers and the geographic areas they serve.

Tom Bretl
Plymouth, MN (western suburb of Minneapolis), 50 miles
Basic astronomy, observing with small telescopes, variable stars, amateur telescope making

Tom Bretl (home page) is a retired high school math, physics, and astronomy teacher. He has been interested in amateur astronomy since the days of Sputnik, and he has been an active variable star observer since joining the AAVSO in 1975. He wrote a monthly column for Astronomy during the first few years of that magazine's existence, and was an amateur telescope maker during the 1970's. Tom has also developed numerous computer programs designed to encourage his students to explore relationships, discover patterns, and solve problems.

Tim Crawford
Arch Cape, OR (100 miles)
Variable Star Observing (both Visual and CCD); Choosing a CCD Camera for Science; Roll-Off Roof Construction vs. Dome Construction (w/building hints for both); Why We Can't See Colors in DSO's & The Importance of Averted Vision.

Tim Crawford's Bio and a listing of "published" articles as well as recent presentations can be found at his home page. While the 100 mile travel radius from Arrch Cape, OR is pretty much limited to the Northern Oregon coastal zone and the Portland, OR metropolitan area, I am willing to consider the Seattle, WA area upon request. Travel outside of these zones might require overnight lodging, in addition to travel expenses and meals. Please feel "free" to inquire regarding whatever your groups needs might be. Remember: "There is no such thing as a dumb question."

"Per Ardua ad Astra"
(Through adversity to the Stars)

Pamela Gay
Edwardsville, IL (100 miles)
Variable Stars, New Media, EPO

A lifetime stargazer, Dr. Pamela L. Gay has followed her obsession to a profession. Today Dr. Gay is a associate research professor of Physics at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville where she teaches introductory physics and astronomy courses. Teaching by day, she works on astronomy data by night, teaming up with amateur astronomers who are expert observers to study variable stars. In between, she finds time to mentor students working on observational astronomy projects through Swinburne Astronomy online. Podcasting is a creative outlet that brings together her love of astronomy with her passion for teaching, making staying current in an ever-changing field a fun endeavor. You can find her online at and

Keith Graham
Joliet, IL (up to 75 miles expense-free but may go further if needed)
Stellar Evolution, Solar System

Keith Graham is a retired high school science teacher who taught astronomy, geology, earth science, and physical science. He has been a member of AAVSO since 1981. He started out as a visual observer and has been a CCD observer since 1999. His interests include doing multi-filter time series of cataclysmic variables, HMXBs, and eclipsing binaries. He currently spends his summers working in Rocky Mountain National Park. His duties include conducting a weekly geology hike for park visitors and running the telescope for a weekly evening star program. He currently gives astronomy and geology PowerPoint presentations to schools and other organizations.

Albert Holm
Columbia, MD (60 miles, ask)
AAVSO & Variable Stars Overview; Hubble Space Telescope; Black Holes, Dark Energy, & Dark Matter; Solar System Science

Originally from Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Albert Holm received his bachelor's degree from Caltech and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has worked on space astronomy missions since 1970, first with the Orbiting Astronomical Observatory-2, then with the International Ultraviolet Explorer, and finally with the Hubble Space Telescope.  Currently retired, he last served as Branch Chief for Data Processing and Archival Services at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. He carried out research on cataclysmic variables, R CrB stars, and planetary nebulae. You can find descriptions of some of his presentations at

Kate Hutton
Pasadena, CA (100 miles)
Variable Stars for Beginners

Katherine Hutton has joined the AAVSO twice: once in 1967, and once in 2006. She left variable stars once, to earn a PhD in astronomy (specialty in very long baseline radio interferometry) & travel a circuitous academic route into seismology, where she now earns her living processing earthquake data & sharing it with the general public through the TV news, following any large shake-ups. Eventually, the variable stars called her back, however. She is primarily a visual observer, just starting to teach herself CCD photometry & she participates in the Arne's Star program, which allows AAVSO members to help the Director clear his desk of unanalyzed data. Her special interests include semiregular variables, the supergiants & Wolf-Rayet stars. She is a mentor for new visual observers. She has written pieces for the Eyepiece Views newsletter & some content for the AAVSO web site. She is also in training to be a docent for the Mt. Wilson Observatory.

Roger S. Kolman, PhD
Chicago area suburbs for free
Variable stars and any astronomy related subjects

Roger Kolman has been an active member of the AAVSO since 1962 and was a member of Council in 1999. He holds a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Illinois. He has taught physics, mathematics and astronomy at the secondary and college levels for 39 years and teacher education at the graduate level. Currently he teaches astronomy at Harper College in Palatine, Illinois.

In addition to his teaching duties, he was a mentor for the Teachers for Chicago program in which individuals holding non-teaching degrees were brought into education as a career change.

For many years he has been involved with the Astronomical League serving as Vice Chairman and Chairman of the North-Central Region of that organization. He served a term as Secretary of the Astronomical League and for several years was in charge of the Member-At-Large section of the A.L. Since 1980 he has been the chairman of the Leslie C. Peltier Award Committee. He is the author of Observe and Understand Variable Stars which he wrote as a vehicle for attracting new observers to the AAVSO.

He has spoken before many groups on Variable Stars and other astronomical topics.

Mario Motta
Gloucester, MA (100 miles)
AAVSO, general astronomy, and light pollution efforts

Mario Motta, M.D., is a cardiologist in the Partners Health System, based in Salem Massachusetts. He also holds an academic appointment as Associate Professor of Medicine at Tufts Medical School. He is a past president of the Massachusetts Medical Society, and elected to the AMA council of Science and Public Health. 

Mario is past president of the AAVSO Council. An advanced amateur astronomer, he has built several observatories, and homemade telescopes. He observes from a homebuilt 32 inch telescope from Gloucester , MA the "Wingaersheek Observatory". As a former president of the ATMOB (Amateur Telescope Makers of Boston), he initiated a collaboration between public schools and the ATMOB, with help from the former director of the AAVSO, Dr Mattei. The ATMOB now give over 50 star parties a year in the greater Boston area for school kids, and partner an amateur with a school district.

Mario's interests have been in galactic evolution, Gamma-Ray Bursters, supernovae, as well as variable stars. He also gives many talks on Light Pollution issues.

Mario is always happy to share his knowledge and enthusiasm for astronomy with the public. Mario received the Las Cumbres Award from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific in 2003 for astronomical outreach, and in 2005 received the Walter Scott Houston Award from the Astronomical League. In 2012 Mario was awarded the Hoag-Robinson Award from the IDA for his efforts in curtailing light pollution and glare.

Gordon Myers
Hillsborough, CA (100 miles)
General Astronomy, Comets, Variable Stars, Cataclysmic Variables, Big Bang, Apollo and Shuttle Programs

Gordon Myers is a life-long astronomy enthusiast. He graduated from Caltech and worked with NASA on the Apollo and Space Shuttle Programs. After retiring from a career with IBM, he became an "Earth and Space Explainer" at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Over the last four years he's taken astrophysics courses at Columbia University, and is an active variable star observer using remote telescopes operated over the Internet.

Chuck Pullen
Sacramento, CA (100 miles)
What's VSO, GRB Network

Chuck Pullen teaches astronomy at Sierra College, Rocklin California. An AAVSO member since 1998, he is a skilled CCD and Visual observer. His observational interests includes multimode cepheids, Gamma Ray Bursts, Supernova, RR Lyrae stars, and robotic observatory design and construction. He has developed numerous PowerPoint tutorials on variable star observation techniques, the AAVSO/NASA Gamma Ray Burst Network, and other issues that are featured on the AAVSO Web Page and have been downloaded thousands of times.

Chuck is an entertaining and knowledgeable speaker who has given lectures on the AAVSO and astronomy to dozens of astronomy clubs, star parties, planetariums, and college lecture series groups over the years.

Michael Richmond
Rochester, NY (150 miles)
Any astronomy topic

Michael Richmond did his graduate work on supernovae at U. C. Berkeley, then spent five years as a post-doc on the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. He is now a member of the Physics Department at RIT, where he spends most of his time teaching introductory physics courses. In spare moments, he works on the calibration of the proposed SNAP mission, observes cataclysmic variables, and continues to study supernovae with the SDSS and Subaru.

Mike Simonsen
Imlay City, MI (200 miles)
Variable Stars, Visual Observing, Stellar Evolution, Cataclysmic Variables, History of the AAVSO

Mike is one of the world’s leading variable star observers and advocates. Since 1998 he has submitted over 88,000 variable star observations to the AAVSO International Database. 

Mike is currently employed by the AAVSO as Membership Director and Development Officer. 

His current area of research is Z Cam type dwarf novae, and he is the author or co-author of more than twenty peer-reviewed papers on cataclysmic variables. 

In 2005, Simonsen received the AAVSO’s highest honor, the AAVSO Director's Award. In October 2011, Mike became only the third recipient of the Charles Butterworth Award, the British Astronomical Association Variable Star Section’s highest honor. In July 2012, Mike received the Leslie Peltier Award from the Astronomical League. In 2015 the American Astronomical Society named Simonsen recipient of the Chambliss Amateur Achievement Award for his research on Z Cam stars, “which promises to have a long-lasting impact on the field of accretion-disk theory."

Main belt asteroid 367732 is named Mikesimonsen in his honor.

An animated and enthusiastic speaker, Mike gives talks on stellar astronomy and variable star science to astronomy clubs, star parties, planetariums, conferences and university groups throughout the United States each year. 

Mike's observatory, named after legendary AAVSO observer and chart maker, Charles E. Scovil, houses two 12" LX200 telescopes, one for visual use and one for CCD observations, or as Mike likes to joke, "One for each eye!" He is now amassing both visual and CCD observations from home and remote robotic telescopes.

He can present one of the talks listed on this website, or create a custom presentation tailored to your audience. Mr. Simonsen is willing to give presentations free of charge within 200 miles of home. If travel will exceed 200 miles, overnight lodging, travel expenses and a meal are the usual requirements. Each request is considered on an individual basis. A donation of $100.00 payable to AAVSO is always appreciated, but not required.

Chris Stephan
Sebring, FL (100 miles)
Variable Star Astronomy

Chris Stephan of The Robert Clyde Observatory in Sebring, Florida, has been a variable star observer for the AAVSO since 1973. He has made over 33,000 visual variable star estimates. Chris has been a speaker on variable stars at various astronomy events. He has received the distinguished AAVSO Director's Award in 2004 and had observations published in various international astronomy journals. Chris is also a member of the American Meteor Society and has led or participated in several lunar grazing occultation expedition teams for IOTA. Chris has been a middle school science teacher with Highlands County Schools for 21 years. He is currently teaching at Avon Park Middle School in Avon Park, Florida. Chris has been married for 22 years and has a son in college.

Bob Stine
Newbury Park, CA (50 miles Zip codes: 91320-93283)
Basic Astronomy, Basic Variable Stars, Amateur Astronomy

Robert J. Stine (AAVSO Observer SRB) Born: 8 Feb 1947, Glendale, California Education: High School: Granada Hills High School; graduated 1964 (famous quarterback John Elway is an alumnus who graduated about a decade later) College: BS Physics 1969 California State University at Northridge MS Electrical Engineering University of California Santa Barbara 1978 Career: Navy Flight Test Engineering of airborne weapons systems Current Status: Retired and overweight. Bald too. Family: Wife Christine (44 years), two daughters, five grandsons.

Paul Temple
Espanola, New Mexico
Asteroids, Variable Stars, Planetary Nebula, and Navajo Cosmology

Paul has two published abstract in the JAAVSO. These abstracts were for talks at the 2003 AAVSO meeting and the 2009 SAS/AAVSO meeting in Big Bear, CA. He has presented talks at the Mid-America Regional Astrophysics Conference in Kansas City, The Astronomical Society National Convention and the Astronomical Society of Kansas City. Having lived and worked in the Navajo nation in Arizona, Temple has a working knowledge of Navajo culture and beliefs. These were put to good use as a head football coach in Chinle, AZ and two papers at the Mid-American Regional Astrophysics Conference. Most recently he was an adjunct teaching astronomy at the Deming campus of Western New Mexico University and has taught astronomy at Mohave Community College in the past.

Mr. Temple's interests are variable stars, Central Stars of Planetary nebula, dusty asteroids, astronomical sketching and lots of red chili! He is involved in photometry with a 11” CPC, ST-2000 CCD and a CFW-8 filter wheel. He also built an 8" Dobsonian in 1993 from scrap materials that is still being used today (aptly named the Bargain Bucket!).

AAVSO 49 Bay State Rd. Cambridge, MA 02138 617-354-0484