What is an Alert Astronomer?
It’s a specialized type of Amateur Astronomer. Basically an Amateur doing a verification on another Amateur’s observation.
It’s an individual that scans for dips mostly from AAVSO, and gets prevalidation via discussion with others over very tight (only minutes) time limit, then if estimated possibly valid then sends out an alert.
The alert goes out to everyone interested, from amateurs, professionals, journalists, students, basically anyone and allows for quick mobilization on time sensitive instances.
Since the process is manual, arrangements have been made with Dr. Boyajian’s team for Alerts regarding Space Based Telescopes since we do not have direct access to the data. In this case, when an Alert comes in from that team, the job is to just send the alert as vetting already occurred by her team.
The key for an alert astronomer is to make sure to do your best to rule out false alarms. When the alert goes out, many telescopes drop what they are doing and take action. Possibly ruining other science in the process. So a good Alert Astronomer is a mixture of science, and ability to get a quick review via discussion before sending out an alert.
Alert Astronomy should start at AAVSO and I would encourage you to support the organization. The material there should allow you to get a start on understanding what a light curve is, and how it works.
The current Alert Astronomer is Roger Wehbe Twitter: @thefounder or Paul Carr @paulDcarr (twitter).