This is the first in a series of papers presenting methods and results from the Young Solar Analogs Project, which began in 2007. This project monitors both spectroscopically and photometrically a set of 31 young (300–1500 Myr) solar-type stars with the goal of gaining insight into the space environment of the Earth during the period when life first appeared. From our spectroscopic observations we derive the Mount Wilson S chromospheric activity index (SMW), and describe the method we use to transform our instrumental indices to SMW without the need for a color term. We introduce three photospheric indices based on strong absorption features in the blue-violet spectrum—the G-band, the Ca i resonance line, and the Hydrogen-γ line—with the expectation that these indices might prove to be useful in detecting variations in the surface temperatures of active solar-type stars. We also describe our photometric program, and in particular our "Superstar technique" for differential photometry which, instead of relying on a handful of comparison stars, uses the photon flux in the entire star field in the CCD image to derive the program star magnitude. This enables photometric errors on the order of 0.005–0.007 magnitude. We present time series plots of our spectroscopic data for all four indices, and carry out extensive statistical tests on those time series demonstrating the reality of variations on timescales of years in all four indices. We also statistically test for and discover correlations and anti-correlations between the four indices. We discuss the physical basis of those correlations. As it turns out, the "photospheric" indices appear to be most strongly affected by emission in the Paschen continuum. We thus anticipate that these indices may prove to be useful proxies for monitoring emission in the ultraviolet Balmer continuum. Future papers in this series will discuss variability of the program stars on medium (days–months) and short (minutes to hours) timescales.
Gray, R.O., Saken, J.M., Corbally, C.J., et al. 2015. The Young Solar Analogs Project. I. Spectroscopic and Photometric Methods and Multi-year Timescale Spectroscopic Results. The Astronomical Journal 150: 203.