Reminiscences of Janet A. Mattei, former director of the American Associations of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO)

Janet also faced some fairly intimidating technical challenges as well as the early administrative and political problems. One type of

Reminiscences of Janet A. Mattei, former director of the American Associations of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO)

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Reminiscences of Janet A. Mattei, former director of the American Associations of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO)

Term paper (in English)





Подготовил: Тимошенко Олег

2-й курс, специальность

English, German, Franch









Киев 2010



Introduction: Janet Akyuz Mattei and the Aavso

Janet as a high-energy object

Janet as the boss

Janet as a friend and mother figure

Janet's Turklish

Janet as a force to be reckoned with

Janet as mentor

Beginning her career (1974-1984)

Freed from the past? (1985-1994)

A mature leader (1995-2004)

An unfinished but closed chapter


Introduction: Janet Akyuz Mattei and the Aavso


Janet Akyuz Mattei (1943-2004) and the AAVSO were meant to be part of each other's lives. In 1969, Janet was teaching and working towards a Master of Science degree in her native Turkey when she learned about the summer research program under Dr. Dorrit Hoffleit at Maria Mitchell Observatory on Nantucket. That year Janet was introduced to variable stars and the AAVSO-and her future husband, Michael Mattei-on Nantucket: variable stars in her research with Dorrit, and Mike and the AAVSO through its meeting held there in October. A brilliant student and young scientist of great promise with an outgoing and enthusiastic personality, Janet was hired as AAVSO Director Margaret Mayall's assistant in 1972. When Margaret decided to retire, Janet was selected by the AAVSO Council in October 1973 to succeed Margaret as Director, a position she held for over 30 years until her death on March 22, 2004.

During those 30 years Janet worked unceasingly on behalf of the AAVSO, its members and observers, and those who want to learn about astronomy and variable stars, and to further the field of variable star astronomy. She strove continually to teach the global astronomical and educational communities about the vital contributions that amateur astronomers make to variable star astronomy. Over and over again, in her talks she demonstrated how astronomers, educators, and students could enhance their research through utilizing the talents of variable star observers, the fruit of their labors-variable star observations-and the unique resources the AAVSO offered.

Janet worked equally hard to encourage amateur astronomers to participate in variable star observing and research, to provide means for their learning information and techniques to enable them to succeed and find enjoyment in variable star work, and to see that they received recognition from the professional community for their vital contributions. She also believed firmly in the potential of young people, and supported and encouraged them however she could, including helping them explore the excitement of astronomy and scientific research.

Janet's directorship took place during times of tremendous challenges and opportunities: the advent of satellite astronomy, the evolution of computer technology that opened up new vistas for communication and data management, instrumentation advances that gave amateur astronomers access to observing equipment only dreamed of before. Within the AAVSO itself, there were difficult times early in the 1980s, the exciting acquisition of a permanent Headquarters building, significant growth in the size of the staff, exponential growth in the size of the AAVSO International Database. Janet rose to these challenges and opportunities, staying flexible and open to new ideas and possibilities while remaining unyielding on the integrity, quality, and reliability of the AAVSO, its database, and its services and programs.

Through Janet's vision and leadership, the AAVSO evolved as the world around it evolved, and it has prospered. Today's AAVSO-still evolving-participates in cutting-edge variable star research, offers multiple observing programs to observers, is strongly involved in education and public outreach, enjoys fruitful working relationships with many other variable star organizations around the world, and looks to the future for exciting new possibilities.

However, AAVSO Director and scientist were only part of who Janet was. She was also spouse, daughter, sister, aunt, niece, cousin, friend, colleague, mentor. She gave of herself, her time, and her talents, and she felt honored and appreciative when people gave to her. She filled people's lives with joy, excitement, and satisfaction, and she rejoiced in the happiness and success of others. She told people when she was pleased for them, and perhaps more importantly, when she was concerned for them, and unfailingly asked-and honestly meant it-if she could help in any way. We will miss the gracious, caring, and enthusiastic bundle of energy that was Janet, with the smile in her voice, the kind word, the insightful comment, the big picture always in mind.

Janet was enormously proud of the AAVSO and its members and observers. We were enormously proud of Janet, and we are grateful to her for giving herself to the AAVSO with such devotion, and for leaving us her personal legacy of striving for excellence, dedication, and compassion.

A View of Janet Mattei, from the Headquarters Staff


Janet as a high-energy object


Most of you probably already know that Janet was a very energetic person. This was true no matter the time of day, and the early workday morning was no exception. Every day, like clockwork, Janet would open the door to the office and would call out her energetic and resounding greeting, "Good Morning." No matter what was going on, and even if it hadn't been a great morning thus far, you were suddenly aware of the burst of positive energy that had just walked through the door. You didn't have to see her face to know that she was smiling, it just came through in her voice. If you had not made eye contact with Janet on her entrance, she was sure to wish you a personal "good morning" upon her initial contact with you for the day. This was always true for the staff partitioned off in the library, where her cheerful daily greeting could not be heard. Therefore, a special, "Good Morning, Ladies" was always bid to Kate and Gamze. After setting her things in her office and getting her cup for her morning tea, she would always proceed to ask the general question, "How is everyone this morning?" as she crossed the office, genuinely concerned about everyone's well-being.

Janet's energy lasted throughout the day, and was evident through the distinct sound of her footsteps. Although Janet was small in stature, her fast and powerful footfalls always gave her away. They burst with energy, much like Janet herself. Mike and Sara, who work downstairs, say they always knew when Janet was walking about above them because her steps were unlike any others.

Janet was also known for working very late at the office, often times staying overnight to finish a project or prepare for a meeting. Her energetic dedication was unrivaled. She did whatever it took to get the job done. This devotion not only applied to Janet's in-office work ethic, but it applied outside as well-literally. One wintry night a terrible winter snow storm had been forecast. Worried about driving home, Janet decided to stay in a hotel near the office. The next morning when Matt arrived at work planning to do some snow removal, he was stunned to see that Janet had already made the trip back to the office and had shoveled the entire walkway out in front of Headquarters-of all 24 inches of snow!


Janet as the boss


If Janet didn't have a photographic memory, she had something that was very close to it. Give her the name of a variable star and she could tell you the specific date, author, and title of an article on a subj ect that you were just "wondering" about. Her internet-like memory was not limited to variable stars, but also encompassed information about AAVSO members and observers. For instance, there was one time when she was out of the office and called Headquarters to find out somebody's phone number. Travis read her the number, to which she replied, "No, that's not right, that's his old number." Travis, thinking to himself, "how could she possibly know if that is the wrong number with out dialing it, especially when she barely knows this person?" went to go find the updated number. Sure enough he found out that it was indeed the old number and when giving Janet the new one she said, "Yes, this is the right one."

Janet also had a terrific sense of humor that could often be seen through the unique twinkle in her eye and a great child-like grin. Once Travis leaned into her office and asked if she wanted anything from a local store for lunch. She told him that she would like "a salad from the salad bar." So Travis, feeling a bit overwhelmed by the fact that he had no idea what she liked on her salad, asked her if there was anything in particular she wanted. To this she replied, "oh anything," and as Travis turned to leave, she added, "and your job is riding on it.&q

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