American Association of Variable Star Observers
Mike is one of the world’s leading variable star observers and advocates. Since 1998 he has submitted over 89,000 variable star observations to the AAVSO International Database.
Mike is currently employed by the AAVSO as Membership Director and Development Officer. Among the many hats Mike wears, he is in charge of membership services and fundraising, and coordinates the AAVSO's online education institute, CHOICE.
His current area of research is the Z Cam sub-type of dwarf novae. Mike 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 Mike was awarded the Chambliss Amateur Achievement Award by the American Astronomical Society for his work on Z Cam dwarf novae.
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.