Konkoly Observatory
22 August 2006
HU ISSN 0374 - 0676  (print)
HU ISSN 1587 - 2440  (on-line)

Appeared in:

The Information Bulletin on Variable Stars is 45 years old

Katalin Oláh
Konkoly Observatory of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hungary

The "Information Bulletin on Variable Stars" was established in 1961 during the General Assembly of the IAU, in Berkeley, by the 27th Commission. The variable star community at that time needed a quicker way of communicating new discoveries and urgent announcements than was possible through the existing journals. The Director of Konkoly Observatory, Hungary, Prof. L. Detre offered to publish this Bulletin. IBVS went through several methodological and technical changes and developments during the past decades.

It turned out very soon that IBVS serves not only as an advertising forum for discoveries and announcements. Following a real need for publishing short notes and papers it soon became an express journal for the variable star community. During the previous Prague General Assembly in 1967, IBVS was entrusted with the task of publishing variable star designations in advance of a Supplement or a new edition of the General Catalogue of Variable Stars (GCVS). From the very beginning about half of the published notes were written on close binaries. This fact was administratively acknowledged in 1992 when IBVS became the official publication of Commission 42 (Close Binaries), as well.

Originally IBVS was mailed to all Commission members free of charge. But with the increasing membership, Konkoly Observatory could no longer finance this task alone. At the 1988 GA in Baltimore the new President of the 27th Commission, M. Breger made serious efforts to solve this problem, which was completed during the next GA in 1991 in Buenos Aires, by forming an Editorial Board for the IBVS. During the first meeting of this Board in Vienna in 1992 the introduction of subscription fee for IBVS was decided and announced. The IAU Executive Committee provided a grant of 1,000 USD helping several countries to subscribe. However, we received the biggest help from Christiaan Sterken, who managed all the financial and administrative tasks during the next five years until the Budapest office was able to handle these issues.

Keeping a professional scientific level has always been the main task of the editors. From the beginning until 1996 all papers were read by the editor(s) thus ensuring promptness of the publication. Since 1996, with the new era of fast communication via the internet IBVS became a fully refereed journal: beside the editors' experience in various fields of variable star astronomy, external referees are evaluating the papers. The Editorial Board and advisors, elected in every 3 years, help the editors in different issues.

The former President of Commission 27, Béla Szeidl was the Editor of IBVS for the longest time, or 22 years between 1968-1990. His enthusiastic work and support throughout the (sometimes hard) years made IBVS a well recognized journal.

Using the new technical possibilities, the Electronic IBVS program started already in 1993. First, all the issues published before the electronic era were digitized. The electronic IBVS appeared on the web as early as in 1994, and now experiments with Virtual Observatory features. Photometric sequences published in IBVS can be visualized with a "grid" tool: the CDS Aladin. All papers from the first issue are now available free of charge on-line in the IBVS webpage. Two CDROMs were published containing issues 1-4000, and 4001-5000.

Recently, following the technical developments in obtaining variable star measurements through massive surveys and automated telescopes, IBVS announced various possibilities for publishing special notes, in two collected papers in the end of each 100 issues. One contains important new discoveries of variables, the other publishes observational material on interesting objects. Only the basic information of each note is printed in the collected papers, the bulk of the data are published electronically. Information content is the one and only measure that decides if a paper is accepted and to which section of IBVS it is directed. We suggest that all authors of IBVS send their observational data to the database where they are available to the public.

The quality of the journal, however, cannot be established with technical innovation only - researchers of the stellar variability need to submit good papers!

The history of IBVS, annoucements, reports, editorial notes, composition of the Editorial Board and all the published issues of IBVS are found in our webpage at