RASNZ Electronic Newsletter March 2017

The RASNZ Email newsletter is distributed by email on or near the 20th of each month. If you would like to be on the circulation list This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for a copy. The latest issue is below.

Email Newsletter Number 195

Affiliated Societies are welcome to reproduce any item in this email newsletter or on the RASNZ website http://www.rasnz.org.nz/ in their own newsletters provided an acknowledgement of the source is also included.

Contents

1. Auckland Observatory's 50 Year Anniversary
2. 2017 Conference - Call for Papers
3. The Solar System in April
4. New Comet Lovejoy
5. Variable Star News
6. TRAPPIST-1's Planets
7. TRAPPIST-1's Radiation Deadly to Its Planets?
8. Audible Meteors Explained?
9. "The Space Between Us"
10. How to Join the RASNZ
11. Kingdon-Tomlinson Fund
12. Newsletter Format
13. Quotes

1. Auckland Observatory's 50 Year Anniversary

The Auckland Astronomical Society?s Observatory was opened on 21 March 1967 at the time of great interest in astronomy arising from the moon landing programme. Stardome will be playing a short birthday presentation as part of its 7:00 pm shows (Wed - Sun) for the last two weeks of March. Also the exhibit area has been revamped, with new displays on historic and forthcoming comments on space exploration.

-- From an article by Sarah Ell (stardome.org.nz) in the NZ Herald Weekend Supplement (11 March 2017, p. 8), passed along by Alan Baldwin.

2. 2017 Conference - Call for Papers

RASNZ Conference paper submissions

As you will know, the next conference of the Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand (RASNZ) will be held in Dunedin over the weekend of 12th -14th May 2017.

There is still space left in the programme for talks and posters. The link to the paper submission form can be found on the RASNZ Conference website www.rasnz.org.nz/Conference or you can email titles/abstracts to me directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We will continue to accept papers until such time as the programme is full. Please note that you must be registered for the conference to give an oral presentation and papers will be lightly reviewed for suitability before being accepted. Once reviewed, papers will be accepted on a first come first served basis until the programme is full. A full list of accepted titles and abstracts is being maintained on the RASNZ Conference website.

TTSO11 paper submissions

Following the conference, the 11th Trans-Tasman Symposium on Occultations (TTSO11) will be held at the conference venue on Monday/Tuesday 15th - 16th May. Details of the registration for TTSO11 are available with the registration form for the conference, and paper submissions should be sent directly to the convenor Murray Forbes (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). Note that this workshop will only be held if there is sufficient interest, so please register as soon as you can. We look forward to receiving your submissions and seeing you at the conference. Please feel free to forward this message to anyone who May find it of interest.

-- Warwick Kissling, RASNZ Standing Conference Committee.

3. The Solar System in April

NZ reverts to NZST (UT +12 hours) on April 2 at 3am. Consequently dates and times shown are NZST apart for any on April 1.

Sunrise, sunset and twilight times in April

        Times are for Wellington.  They will vary by a few minutes elsewhere in 
NZ.
                  April  1  NZDT                 April 30  NZST
                  morning  evening               morning  evening
       SUN: rise: 7.33am,  set: 7.15pm     rise: 7.04am, set:  5.31pm
Twilights
Civil:    starts: 7.09am, ends: 7.40pm   starts: 6.38am, ends: 5.58pm
Nautical: starts: 6.37am, ends: 8.12pm   starts: 6.05am, ends: 6.30pm
Astro:    starts: 6.04am, ends: 8.44pm   starts: 5.33am, ends: 7.02pm

April PHASES OF THE MOON (times NZST, as shown by GUIDE)

          First quarter: April  4 at  6.40 am (Apr  3,  6:40 UT)
  Full moon:     April 11 at  6.08 pm (06:08 UT)
  Last quarter   April 19 at  4.07 pm (04:07 UT)
  New moon:      April 27 at 12.16 am (Apr 26, 12:16 UT)

The planets in April 2017

Jupiter becomes visible all night so is a brilliant object in the evening sky. Saturn will be to the east by late evening. Mars will be low to the west after sunset setting before the end of astronomical twilight. Venus moves up in the morning sky during April, a brilliant object to the east. Mercury is too close to the Sun to observe all month.

MERCURY is virtually unobservable throughout April. It is at inferior conjunction between Earth and Sun at 5pm on the 20th. At conjunction the planet will pass 1.5° north of the Sun as "seen" from the Earth. Mercury will be 86 million km from the Earth and 64.4 million km from the Sun.

On the 1st Mercury, in the evening sky, will set only 30 minutes after the Sun. On the 30th, in the morning sky, it rises about 80 minutes before the Sun but at magnitude 2.6 is not likely to be visible due to twilight.

VENUS is a morning object in April. On the 1st it will rise some 45 minutes before the Sun, by the 30th it will rise more than 3 hours earlier than the Sun.

The planet will not be readily visible on April 1 when it is only 12° from the Sun. Its distance from the Sun increases steadily throughout April, particularly early in the month as Venus moves to the west through the stars, away from the easterly moving Sun. This will make it an easy object within a few days. It will be visible a little to the north of east at first shortly before sunrise.

Venus is in Pisces all month and is stationary on April 13 after which it will start moving to the east but less rapidly than the Sun. The position of the planet relative to the stars will change little during the month

The morning of the 24th will find the crescent moon some 4.5° to the upper right of Venus

MARS will remain a low early evening object during April. On the 1st it sets just over 80 minutes after the Sun, dropping only slightly to 75 minutes later on the 30th. It will be low, with a magnitude 1.5, visible only briefly as the sky darkens following sunset. Mars will set a little before the end of Astronomical twilight so not be an easy object.

During April, the planet moves to the east through Aries and on into Taurus on the 12th. On the 21st and 22nd it will be 3.5° above the Pleiades, by the end of April Mars will be 7° below the similarly coloured star Aldebaran. On the 28th the moon, a very thin crescent less than 5% lit, will be 5° to the upper left of Mars.

JUPITER is at opposition on April 8, NZ time. At opposition Jupiter will be 4.5 AU, 666 million km from the Earth and a further 150 million km from the Sun. The planet will be in Virgo moving in a retrograde sense to the west as the Earth overtakes it. Jupiter starts the month just over 6° from Spica, its slow westerly motion taking it to nearly 9.5° from the star on the 30th.

The full moon will be 6.5° from Jupiter on the evening of April 11, the moon at the apex of an inverted triangle formed by it, Jupiter and Spica.

SATURN will rise close to 11 pm NZDT 1st of April, which becomes 10pm NZST on the 3rd with the time of rise advancing to just after 8 pm by the 30th. Thus it becomes a prominent later evening object to the east at magnitude 0.3 to the east during the month. It will, of course, be readily visible in the morning sky. By the end of April Saturn will be highest and due north about 3.40 am.

Saturn is stationary on the 6th, after which it will start moving to the west, but its position in Sagittarius will change little throughout the month.

The 75% lit waning moon will be 3.5° to the lower right of Saturn on the morning of April 17, with the two closest at about 6 am.

Outer Planets

URANUS is at conjunction with the Sun on April 14. Hence it will be too close to the Sun to observe throughout April.

NEPTUNE, in the morning sky, rises about two and a half hours before the Sun on the 1st and nearly 5 hours earlier on the 30th. The planet is in Aquarius at magnitude 8.

PLUTO, magnitude 14.4, is in the morning sky rising about 12.40 am, NZDT, on the 1st and 9.45 pm on the 30th. It will remain in Sagittarius just under 2.5° from the 2.9 magnitude star pi Sgr.

Minor Planets

(1) CERES is an early evening object, brightening slightly from magnitude 9.1 to 8.9 during the month. It is quite close to Mars moving on a path almost parallel to the major planet which overtakes Ceres during the month. On the 1st they are 4° apart with Ceres above Mars. On the 8th they are at their closest, 3° apart. By the 30th Ceres is will be dropping behind Mars, the two then being 5° apart.

On the 12th both Ceres and Mars move from Aries to Taurus, with Ceres crossing the border shortly before Mars.

(4) VESTA, an evening object in April, is in Gemini. It passes Pollux, magnitude 1.2, early in April, the two being closest on April 7, just over 2° apart. The asteroid moves on into Cancer on the 24th. Vesta dims slightly during the month from magnitude 7.7 to 8.0. It sets about 12.45 am, NZDT, on the 1st and just before 10.30 pm, NZST, on the 30th.

-- Brian Loader

4. New Comet Lovejoy

Terry Lovejoy of Brisbane found another comet -- his sixth! -- on March 10. His posting to the Comet Watch Facebook group follows:

"Thank you everyone for your kind words, and of course to the people that sacrifice their spare time to get out there and do follow up observations on new comets like this.

The latest comet, C/2017 E4, was found on a set of 3 images made on the morning of March 10 (Local time) in the constellation of Sagittarius. Although my 6th discovery, this was the first discovery with the Hyperstar 14" Celestron Schmidt Cassegrain telescope. However, because the field of view is now smaller I must now make shorter exposures, and more of them, to cover similar amounts of sky as possible. However, I felt the extra aperture have has more than compensated especially since my location experiences quite bad light pollution being just 18 km from the centre of Brisbane, a city of more than 2 million people.

Back to the comet, it was found using MOD (Moving Object Detection) a computer program I wrote that searches sets of images for moving objects like comets of asteroids. I tend to run MOD with very high sensitivity, which means it will identify anything remotely resembling a moving object, resulting in mostly false positive detection's. In fact in crowded star-fields this can be as high as 90% false positives and so I must examine each detection manually. Nevertheless, this is huge time saver compared to examining the entire image manually. That morning a lot of the fields were in the milky way I had a large number of false detection's I had to examine, and there were also at least a dozen asteroids, but finally there was one object that had a definite coma and I knew almost certainly a comet. I then did some checks against known asteroids/comets plus some checks to eliminate internal optical reflections as a cause for the detection. This all checked out so I was certain of a new comet at this point.

I then sought independent confirmation from another observer, and looking at Messenger I could see Cristavao Jacques in Brazil was online, so I contacted him, but unfortunately dawn had started and he had closed up the observatory so there was no luck there. I then contacted Michael Mattiazzo and he was able to get a confirmation image not long after from a remote telescope in New Mexico. This was all well within the 24 hours of the actual discovery images, which is probably a record for me! The comet was then posted on the Possible Comet Confirmation Page and astrometry started to stream in over the next few days and within 3 days the orbit was known with enough certainty for it to be designated as C/2017 E4. The orbit indicates - unfortunately - this is an intrinsically small comet that probably stay quite faint (and it could even disappear altogether) but we can always hope for a better display."

---------- C/2017 E4 (Lovejoy) is in the morning sky, moving north-east, so getting closer to the sun. On March 20 it will be 108 million km from Earth and 138 million km from the Sun. It will be closest to the Earth, 91 million km away, on March 31. It passes 74 million km from the Sun on April 23. -- Ed.

5. Variable Star News

AAVSO Announcements ---------- The American Association of Variable Star Observers Annual Report for 2015-2016 has been released online. It is available at https://www.aavso.org/annual-report in both a high-resolution and a low-resolution version. There is useful information on AAVSO programmes contained within this document.

Stella Kafka, AAVSO director, has announced that Dr Bert Pablo will be joining the AAVSO as the new Staff Astronomer. He will start in July. Bert received his Astronomy PhD from Iowa State University, and then joined the BRITE-Constellation collaboration at the University of Montreal. His research has been on ?Heartbeat stars?. (Refer article on Iota Orionis below). You can find more information about Bert at: https://www.aavso.org/bert-pablo

This information was taken from the AAVSO (monthly) Communication ? March 2017.

Eclipsing Binary Stars ----------

Iota Orionis and the BRITE Constellation Project

Iota Orionis is a binary star system and is easily visible with the naked eye, being the brightest star in Orion?s sword in the constellation of Orion. The light from Iota Orionis is relatively stable 90 per cent of the time, but then dips rapidly followed by a large spike; a repeating one-per-cent spike in the light. Stars with this type of variation have been labelled Heartbeat stars due to the similarity of the variation to electrocardiogram rhythms. This unusual variation is the result of the interaction of two stars in a highly elliptical 30-day orbit around each other. The observations were made using the world?s smallest astronomical space satellites, referred to as ?nanosats?; there are five being used in the BRITE (BRIght Target Explorer)-Constellation program.

Iota Orionis represents the first time this effect has been seen in such a massive system (35 times the mass of the Sun), an order of magnitude larger than any in previously known systems, and the binary system allows for direct determination of the masses and radii of the components. On close approach gravitational forces distort the shape of the stars and trigger quakes in the star, allowing us to probe the star?s inner workings, just as we do for the Earth?s interior during Earthquakes. The phenomenon of quakes is very rare in massive stars in general and this is the first time induced quakes have ever been seen in a star this massive.

-- Abstracted from an AAVSO web-site News Article. For further information on BRITE go to http://www.brite-constellation.at/. An article on Iota Orionis was published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, (Oxford University Press), http://doi.org/10.1093/mnras/stx207 February 9, 2017.

Analysis of Binary Stars ----------

One of the major projects of Variable Stars South since its inception has been the monitoring of binary stars visible in the Southern hemisphere, analysis of the light curves and deduction of the unique properties of the individual star systems. The light curves of binaries can be used to deduce the orbital elements, relative sizes and other properties of the stars in the system.

In the Variable Stars South Newsletters (website Tab Community, Heading Newsletters) Tom Richards has been writing about techniques for dong initial analysis and giving tips on things to watch out for in fitting models. The first article appeared in the 2016-3 (July) issue. (pp 24 ? 27) Reading the clues in light curves of eclipsing binaries Part I ? Finding star sizes. The subsequent article, Part II ? Interpreting eclipse depths appeared in the 2016 October issue. The articles use bold, clear diagrams to illustrate the systems.

?The techniques reveal how eclipse widths in light curves can tell us if the stars are close or well separated. We saw that relative depths tell us relative brightnesses and absolute depths give us strong clues about how complete the partial eclipses are. In the case of total eclipses, we saw further that we can derive the relative luminosities from the relative depths, and hence by combining luminosity and brightness, get the relative radii. We derived all those features of the eclipsing system by thinking qualitatively about the geometry?.

This information can be derived by logical reasoning and very simple arithmetic. Getting such results is an invaluable check on any astrophysical modelling you might go on to perform

The third in the series of articles, Part III ? The strange case of V477 Lyrae, was in the recently issued 2017 January issue. This star has an unusual light curve (the volcano shape) and the article shows an application of analysis to a complex, late evolutionary, system. The binary V477 Lyrae exists in a planetary nebula and is thus a star that has suffered mass loss to the planetary nebula, as well as mass being transferred from the secondary star to the primary.

The next article in the series will discuss investigating the colours and temperatures of the component stars.

-- Alan Baldwin

6. TRAPPIST-1's Planets

The star TRAPPIST-1 is an unassuming, M8 red dwarf star. It lies 39 light-years away in the constellation Aquarius. With a diameter only one-tenth that of our star, the dwarf puts out less than a thousandth as much light as the Sun.

Last year, Michaël Gillon (University of Liège, Belgium) and colleagues announced that a trio of small exoplanets orbits this small star (although the third world was of dubious reality). Now, after an intensive follow-up campaign, the team has discovered that there are actually seven planets, not three. All are likely rocky. Three lie in TRAPPIST-1?s putative habitable zone ? the region where, given an Earth-like composition, liquid water could be stable on the surface. But all, with enough hand-waving, might have a chance at liquid water.

The astronomers detected the exoplanets using the transit technique, which catches the tiny dip in starlight when a planet passes in front of its host star from our perspective. The discovery sequence began when the team found that what it had thought was a combined transit of planets #2 and #3 was in fact the crossing of three planets. The observers next studied TRAPPIST-1 with an impressive array of ground-based observations. But the big breakthrough came with the Spitzer Space Telescope which observed the star for 20 days. It saw 34 clear transits. The team was then able to combine their ground- and space-based observations to determine that the signals likely came from seven different planets.

Only six of those are firm detections, however. Number 7, or planet h, is iffy in its specs: The team only detected a single transit for it, and astronomers prefer to see three transits before calling something a candidate planet. Expect astronomers to haggle over this one in months ahead.

All of the seven exoplanets discovered around TRAPPIST-1 orbit much closer to their star than Mercury does to the Sun. But because TRAPPIST-1 is far fainter than the Sun, the worlds are exposed to similar levels of radiation as Venus, Earth, and Mars.

The orbital periods of the inner six planets range from 1.5 to 12 Earth days, with the period of outermost h being anywhere between 14 to 35 days. The smallest two worlds are about three-fourths as wide as Earth, the largest 10% wider. The biggest orbit is less than 20% as large as Mercury?s.

One of the wonderful things about this system is that the exoplanets? orbits are resonant with one another. This means that their orbital periods are rough integer multiples of one another. For example, in the same span of time that the innermost planet whips around the star eight times, the second planet takes five laps, the third three, and the fourth two. This setup gravitationally links the planets together and can lead to tiny shifts in their positions. Based on these shifts, the team could calculate the planets? gravitational influences on one another, and hence their approximate masses and densities. All are consistent with being rocky, the team concludes in the February 23rd Nature.

Such resonant orbits arise when worlds migrate from their original locations, Gillon explains. Astronomers think that when lightweight planets form far out in a star?s planet-forming gaseous disk, gas drag and such will make them advance inward. During this inbound migration, the worlds catch one another in resonant orbits, such that they can form a kind of ?chain of planets,? he says. In this case, the migration landed the exoplanets in what the team calls the ?temperate zone? ? orbits with enough incoming starlight that, with the right conditions, the planets might at least sometimes have liquid surface water. It?s a looser definition than that for ?habitable zone.?

The planets are also all likely tidally locked with their star, meaning they always point the same hemisphere at it, as the Moon does to Earth. So close to the star, the planets could experience huge tidal pulls, stretching and squeezing their interiors and spurring heating and even volcanism, similar to what we see on Jupiter?s Galilean moons.

TRAPPIST-1 is quiet for an M dwarf ? notably less active that Proxima Centauri, which also has a habitable-zone planet (although it?s likely a desert world). But unfortunately, astronomers don?t know how old the star is. It?s also unclear whether the planets? orbits are stable: The researchers haven?t determined the seventh planet?s orbit, nor do they know if there are other worlds in the system mucking things up. This kind of star, called an ultra-cool dwarf, is very common; roughly 15% of stars in the nearby galaxy fall into this category, Guillon estimates. Ultra-cool dwarfs live for trillions of years.

Read more about the result in the European Southern Observatory?s press release at https://www.eso.org/public/news/eso1706/

References: M. Gullion et al. ?Seven temperate terrestrial planets around the nearby ultracool drwarf star TRAPPIST-1.? Nature. February 23, 2017. Ignas Snellen. ?Earth?s Seven Sisters.? (editorial) Nature. February 23, 2017.

-- Abridged from an article by Camille M. Carlisle on Sky & Telescope's webpage at http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/dim-star-has-seven-earth-size-planets-2202201723/

7. TRAPPIST-1's Radiation Deadly to Its Planets?

The star with seven exoplanets puts out enough high-energy radiation to tear away the inner planets? atmospheres in a few billion years.

As part of the ongoing interest in this small sun, Vincent Bourrier (University of Geneva Observatory, Switzerland) and colleagues are putting together a picture of how much high-energy radiation streams out from the star, and what that radiation might mean for the planets.

The team used the Hubble Space Telescope to study the star?s ultraviolet output. Specifically, they looked at Lyman-alpha emission, which is a particular wavelength emitted by hydrogen atoms and comes from the star?s chromosphere, the layer between the stellar ?surface? (the photosphere) and the intensely hot, ionized, wispy corona. The team found that TRAPPIST-1 emits less than half as much Lyman-alpha radiation as other cool, exoplanet-hosting M dwarfs ? including Proxima Centauri, which radiates six times more in ultraviolet as TRAPPIST-1 does. That?s to be expected, since TRAPPIST-1 is also cooler than the other M dwarfs are.

However, last year the team also found that TRAPPIST-1 emits about as much in X-rays as Proxima Centauri. These X-rays come from the stars? coronas. The ratio of X-rays to ultraviolet is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, X-ray and ultraviolet output decrease with time for these stars, but X-rays drop off much faster. The fact that TRAPPIST-1 emits roughly a third as much energy in Lyman-alpha as it does in X-ray suggests that the star is ?relatively young,? the team posits in their March 2017 Astronomy & Astrophysics article.

What ?relatively young? means is an open question. Astronomers know the star is at least 500 million years old, because it has ?settled? into being an adult star. Beyond that, it?s anyone?s guess. Jeffrey Linsky (University of Colorado, Boulder), who has worked extensively on M dwarfs and the trends in Lyman-alpha and X-ray emission for different types of stars, says that TRAPPIST-1 seems both old and young. Stars are born spinning quickly, then slow as they age. TRAPPIST-1 rotates in 1½ days, which at face value would point to it being young, he says ? but astronomers don?t know how fast these ultra-cool dwarfs spin down. Furthermore, the star?s fast motion through space usually would indicate it?s a member of the old stellar population that comprises the galaxy?s halo, but that May be a fluke.

Bourrier agrees that the age question is currently unanswerable. The ratio of X-ray to ultraviolet emission seems to indicate that TRAPPIST- 1 is ?not extremely old,? he says, ?but I do not think that at this point we can say much more than this.?

The second reason the X-ray and ultraviolet levels matter is for habitability, a possibility which has received perhaps more attention than it deserves. Although the ultraviolet level is low, the radiation overall is still high enough that it could strip an Earth-like atmosphere from the inner two planets, b and c, in 1 to 3 billion years; for the planets d, e, f, and g (e, f, and g are in the putative habitable zone), the process would take anywhere from 5 to 22 billion years. The team does see a hint of atmospheric escape from b and c, although the slight drop in starlight that implies it might instead be due to coronal variability.

Reference: V. Bourrier et al. ?Reconnaissance of the TRAPPIST-1 exoplanet system in the Lyman-alpha line.? Astronomy & Astrophysics. March 2017.

-- Abridged from an article by Camille M. Carlisle on Sky & Telescope's website at http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/seven-planet-star-ageless-maybe-deadly-0603201723/

8. Audible Meteors Explained?

The astronomical literature is dotted with reports of observers hearing bright meteors that seem to hiss, pop, or ping. Now, a recent study in Nature: Scientific Reports out of Sandia National Laboratories suggests a possible cause.

Most of the meteors you see at night are tiny dust grains, burning up as they streak through Earth's upper atmosphere at speeds up to 70 km/s. Once in a great while, something really big, say, golf-ball-size or larger comes in, burning up in a brilliant fireball display. (A fireball is a meteor brighter than ?4 magnitude (as bright as Venus), and a bolide is a fireball with a bright terminal flash at the end of its trail.

Sometimes observers report hearing a distinct hiss or crackle accompanying many bright fireballs simultaneously with the bright flash. But the trouble with hearing concurrent sounds with meteors has always been the distance involved. Not only do meteors occur in the tenuous upper atmosphere, which is a poor propagator of sound, but they're also distant, occurring in the mesosphere about 75 to 100 km up. Think of lightning: how you always see the flash several seconds before the booming thunder arrives.

And yet reports of audible meteors persist. The Sandia study proposes that strong millisecond-long flashes recorded in bright fireballs are intense enough to induce radiative heating in dielectric materials such as dry leaves, clothing, or even hair in the vicinity of the observer, via what's called the photoacoustic effect. The irradiated surfaces heat the air next to them, producing tiny pressure oscillations ? in other words, sound. The study shows that a bolide around ?12 in magnitude (about half as bright as a full Moon) can induce an audible sound in dielectric material of around 25 decibels, loud enough to be heard. For context, a whisper is 10 to 20 decibels, on the lower threshold of what is barely audible. The study even suggests frizzy hair might be an even more effective transducer of the photoacoustic effect.

"It seems significant that people with frizzy hair are reported to be more likely to hear concurrent sound from meteors," the study notes. "Intuitively, frizzy hair should be a good transducer for two reasons. Hair near the ears will create localized sound pressure, so it is likely to be heard. Also, hair has a large surface-to-volume ratio, which maximizes sound creation.

The study notes that strong millisecond flashes were seen in virtually all of the bright bolide meteors documented by the Czech Fireball Network. One particularly brilliant ?15-magnitude fireball named EN091214 was recorded by the network in the early evening of December 9, 2014. Careful analysis of its rapidly changing intensity showed brief flares occurring dozens of times per second, and several witnesses in the vicinity heard sound at the same time. Calculations in the study suggest that the fireball's intense, rapidly varying light should have produced a sound level of 27 ± 3 decibels, consistent with ear-witness accounts.

Over the years, audible meteors have been explained as simply a psychological phenomenon, or perhaps a locally produced effect set up by low-frequency waves and a phenomenon known as electrophonic sound. Edmond Halley collected eyewitness accounts of a bright fireball seen over England on the night of March 19, 1718, which many witnessed claimed ?hiss(ed) as it went along, as if it had been very near at hand,? a claim dismissed by Halley himself.

-- Adapted from an article by David Dickinson on Sky & Telescope's webpage at http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-blogs/astronomy-space-david-dickinson/new-take-on-audible-meteor-mystery/

9. "The Space Between Us"

Jim Scotti posted the following critique/review on Facebook:

So we saw the movie "The Space Between Us" last night and while I enjoyed the film, it's clear that the director and writer weren't paying attention in their "Rocket Science" class. Here are a few issues (I don't think there are any real spoilers here). I didn't recognize a single star field. We apparently have developed subspace radio providing instant communication between Mars and Earth. As the spaceship approaches Earth (or Mars for that matter) the rocket engines are firing in the direction pushing toward the planet instead of pushing away from the planet to decelerate into orbit around the planet. You could see lots of stars when panning across a scene with daytime sunlit Earth or Mars in the scene. The Dream Chaser spacecraft can take off from a runway without a huge rocket to boost it and fire its rockets to achieve orbit (or at least to go suborbital for getting zero-G for a long time). We apparently need an SLS rocket to launch a 6 person crew into low Earth orbit on a Red Dragon spacecraft to rendezvous with our Mars transport spacecraft. While rocket engines are firing during the journey to/from Mars, the crew enjoys zero-G while floating around the cabin. And the trip to/from Mars still takes 7 months despite the continuous rocket firing. Did I mention that I enjoyed the movie in spite of the science flaws?

10. How to Join the RASNZ

RASNZ membership is open to all individuals with an interest in astronomy in New Zealand. Information about the society and its objects can be found at http://rasnz.org.nz/rasnz/membership-benefits A membership form can be either obtained from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by completing the online application form found at http://rasnz.org.nz/rasnz/membership-application Basic membership for the 2016 year starts at $40 for an ordinary member, which includes an electronic subscription to our journal 'Southern Stars'.

11. Kingdon-Tomlinson Fund

The RASNZ is responsible for recommending to the trustees of the Kingdon Tomlinson Fund that grants be made for astronomical projects. The grants May be to any person or persons, or organisations, requiring funding for any projects or ventures that promote the progress of astronomy in New Zealand. Applications are now invited for grants from the Kingdon-Tomlinson Fund. The application should reach the Secretary by 1 May 2017. There will be a secondary round of applications later in the year. Full details are set down in the RASNZ By-Laws, Section J.

For an application form contact the RASNZ Executive Secretary, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Nichola van der Aa, 32A Louvain Street, Whakatane 3120.

12. Newsletter Format

Distribution of the past three Newsletters has been via MailChimp. This allows readers to unsubscribe automatically, a legislative requirement.

This issue is being sent in HTML format. That allows reading on any computer or mobile device. Comments on the usefulness, or otherwise, of this change are welcomed. -- Ed.

13. Quotes

"Okay - Other than giving us cars, planes, spaceships, cell phones, the internet, life-saving medicine, a dramatically increased life span, valuable warnings and guidance, a fundamental understanding of how our world works and Jurassic Park - what has science done for us?" -- https://www.facebook.com/EndTheWoo/photos/

"Life is like a roll of toilet paper; the closer you get to the end of the roll, the faster it goes." -- Anon. Quoted in The Economist letters, March 4, 2017, p. 12.

Newsletter editor:

Alan Gilmore Phone: 03 680 6817
P.O. Box 57 Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Lake Tekapo 7945
New Zealand

March 2017

Log in or become an RASNZ member to access this Southern Stars issue.

An Observation of Messier 31, 32 and 110 from Otago
Ian Griffin
Volume 56, number 1. March 2017. p3

 

Auckland Observatory Research in the First 25 Years - A Personal View
Stan Walker
Volume 56, number 1. March 2017. p5

 

RASNZ Annual Report of Council for 2016
Volume 56, number 1. March 2017. p13

 


RASNZ Electronic Newsletter February 2017

The RASNZ Email newsletter is distributed by email on or near the 20th of each month. If you would like to be on the circulation list This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for a copy. The latest issue is below.

Email Newsletter Number 194

Affiliated Societies are welcome to reproduce any item in this email newsletter or on the RASNZ website http://www.rasnz.org.nz/ in their own newsletters provided an acknowledgement of the source is also included.

Contents

1. 2017 Conference - Call for Papers
2. The Solar System in March
3. Variable Star News
4. Fast Radio Burst Source Identified
5. Conflicting Measures of the Hubble Constant?
6. The Ancient Star That Faked Its Age
7. Micrometeoroids in the Gutter
8. Space May Wreak Havoc on Your Body
9. Auroral Stamp and Coin Issue
10. How to Join the RASNZ
11. Gifford-Eiby Lecture Fund
12. Kingdon-Tomlinson Fund
13. Quotes

1. 2017 Conference - Call for Papers

As you will know, the next conference of the Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand (RASNZ) will be held in Dunedin over the weekend of 12th -14th May 2017. The RASNZ standing conference committee (SCC) invites and encourages anyone interested in New Zealand Astronomy to submit oral or poster papers, with titles and abstracts due by 1st April 2017 or at such time as the SCC deems the conference programme to be full. The link to the paper submission form can be found on the RASNZ Conference website www.rasnz.org.nz/Conference or you can email titles/abstracts to me directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Please note that you must be registered for the conference to give an oral presentation and papers will be lightly reviewed for suitability before being accepted. Once reviewed, papers will be accepted on a first come first served basis until the programme is full.

-- Warwick Kissling, RASNZ Standing Conference Committee.

2. The Solar System in March

Dates and times shown are NZDT (UT + 13 hours).

Sunrise, sunset and twilight times in march

        Times are for Wellington.  They will vary by a few minutes elsewhere in 
NZ.
                  March  1  NZDT                 March 31  NZDT
                  morning  evening               morning  evening
       SUN: rise: 6.59am,  set: 8.06pm     rise: 7.32am,  set: 7.16pm
Twilights
Civil:    starts: 6.33am, ends: 8.32pm   starts: 7.07am, ends: 7.42pm
Nautical: starts: 6.00am, ends: 9.06pm   starts: 6.35am, ends: 8.14pm
Astro:    starts: 5.24am, ends: 9.41pm   starts: 6.03am, ends: 8.46pm

The southern autumnal equinox is on March 20 at 11:29 pm

March PHASES OF THE MOON (times as shown by GUIDE)

          First quarter: March  6 at 12.32 am (Mar  5, 11:32 UT)
  Full moon:     March 13 at  3.54 am (Mar 12, 14:54 UT)
  Last quarter   March 21 at  4.58 am (Mar 20, 15:58 UT)
  New moon:      March 28 at  3.57 pm (02:57 UT)

The Planets in March 2017

Mercury, Venus and Neptune are all at conjunction with the Sun during March so will be too close to the Sun for observation much of the month. Mars will remain an early evening object rather low to the west at sunset. Jupiter will move up into the evening sky being a few days short of opposition at the end of the month. Saturn is mostly a morning object but will rise shortly before midnight by the end of March.

MERCURY is virtually unobservable throughout March. It is at superior conjunction on the far side of the Sun at midday on the 7th, NZ time. At conjunction the planet will pass 1.5° south of the Sun as seen from the Earth. Mercury will then be 204 million km (1.36 AU) from the Earth placing it 55.8 million km beyond the Sun

Before conjunction it is a morning object, but rises only 30 minutes before the Sun on the 1st. After conjunction Mercury becomes an evening object, but even by the 31st it will set only 30 minutes after the Sun.

Evening Planets, Venus, Mars and Jupiter

VENUS sets some 40 minutes after the Sun on March 1. It is a very low object, only 4° up, 15 minutes after sunset, 30° north of the position of the set Sun. The comet Encke at magnitude 5.2 will then be 9° to the left of Venus and slightly lower but too faint to observe.

The angular distance of Venus from the Sun steadily decreases during the month until the planet is at inferior conjunction late on the evening of March 25. At conjunction the planet will pass 8° north of the Sun as seen from the Earth. It will be 42 million km from us and 108 million from the Sun.

After conjunction Venus will move into the morning sky and rise about 35 minutes before the Sun on the 31st but will be too low for observation.

MARS will also be a low early evening object. On the 1st it will be about 10° up 40 minutes after sunset, at the time Venus sets. Mars will be a little to the right of the position of Venus. Uranus will be less than 2° to the left of Mars but at magnitude 5.9 a difficult binocular object in the twilit sky.

Mars manages to keep ahead of the Sun during March, it sets 100 minutes after the Sun on the 1st and 85 minutes after on the 31st. The magnitude of Mars dims from 1.3 to 1.5 during the month.

On the evening of March 2 the 16% lit crescent moon will be just over 6° from Mars, above and to the right of the planet. A rather similar meeting of Mars and the moon will occur on the 31st, with the moon then 13% lit.

JUPITER will be the planet of the evening sky during March, although on the 1st it will not rise until 90 minutes after the Sun sets. By the end of March it will be up only 16 minutes after the Sun goes down.

On the 1st it will be 10.30 pm before Jupiter is reasonably easy to see 9° up to the east with Spica 4° to the upper right of the planet. The two form a pair throughout March, by the 31st they will be 6° apart.

On the 14th, two days after full moon, the latter will be 6.5° to the left of Jupiter as seen late evening, by the following morning the two will just over 4° apart. The rotation of the sky will bring the moon below Jupiter with Spica above the planet. The three should make an interesting grouping throughout the night.

SATURN in the morning sky.

SATURN rises an hour after midnight on the 1st and close to 11 pm on the 31st. Thus it remains essentially a morning sky object. The planet is in Sagittarius but some distance from the brighter stars of the constellation.

The last quarter moon will be just over 4° from Saturn on the morning of 21st NZ time.

Outer Planets

URANUS, at magnitude 5.9, remains in Pisces throughout the month setting 95 minutes after the Sun on the 1st, but only 30 minutes later on the 31st. It starts the month a couple of degrees to the left of Mars, but the latter moves steadily away from Uranus during the month. Also on the 1st the 9% lit crescent moon will be 7° to the left of Uranus with Mars 2° on the opposite side of Uranus, the three forming an almost horizontal line. The following evening the moon will be to the upper right of Mars.

NEPTUNE is another planet at conjunction with the Sun in March, on the 2nd. After conjunction it will become a morning object, rising nearly 2.5 hours before the Sun on the 31st. The planet at magnitude 8.0 remains in Aquarius throughout March.

PLUTO is in the morning sky rising about 2.35 am on the 1st and 12.40 am on the 31st. It will remain in Sagittarius about 2.5° from the 2.9 mag star pi Sgr.

Minor Planets

(1) CERES is an early evening object, magnitude 9.1. It starts the month in Cetus but moves into Aries starting on the 3rd. By the 31st it will set about 9 pm and be 4.5° to the upper right of Mars with the crescent moon 5.5° to the upper right of Ceres, the three not quite in line.

(4) VESTA an evening object in March will fade from magnitude 7.2 to 7.6 during the month. It is stationary early in the month and will then move slowly to the east. The asteroid is in Gemini and will be only 2.4° from beta Gem, Pollux, magnitude 1.2 by the end of March.

A loose cluster of asteroids are bright enough to be seen in binoculars at the beginning of March. On the 1st they are probably best seen about 11pm when they will be between NNE and NE. The asteroids are (9) METIS, (14) IRENE and (29) AMPHITRITE in Leo and (15) EUNOMIA in Sextans. Irene, magnitude 9.1, is just under 7° to the lower left of Metis, 9.2, while Amphitrite, 9.2, is some 14° to the upper right of Metis. Eunomia, mag 9.4,is further away, 21° above Metis. Regulus, the brightest star in Leo, is near midway between Eunomia and Metis, a little closer to the latter. At 11 pm the star will be about 30° above the horizon.

All four asteroids fade during the month and are likely to be lost to binocular view by the 31st.

COMET P/Encke (2P) is in Pisces fairly close to Venus with a magnitude 5.5 on the 1st. But it will be too low in southern skies following sunset to observe.

-- Brian Loader

3. Variable Star News

L2 Puppis has previously been classified as a Semi-regular variable because of its somewhat erratic brightness and has been observed by visual observers for a number of years. Part 2 of a report on observations of this star has appeared In the recent Variable Stars South Newsletter, 2017 January (Part I was in the 2016 July issue). In an analysis of visual observations (1984 to 1999) the visual magnitude has declined dramatically whereas filter observations in B-V remained essentially the same. This often occurs with visual observations of red stars in which the wavelength of maximum radiation moves during the cycle. Some recent observations (2012 – 2015) demonstrate that while the period is a little irregular the period has remained in a band of 130 to 150 days.

Recently some investigations have been carried out with very large telescopes to reveal the structure of the star and the reasons for its unusual behaviour. Firstly images from the ESO Very Large Telescope (SPHERE/ZIMPOL) in Chile revealed a disc of dust which would explain large changes in visual brightness. Secondly follow-up observations at the Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have shown a companion. With the current estimate of its mass at approximately 12 Jupiters it is now classified as a brown dwarf; further observations over a long time base of 2000 days are required to pick up transits. The mass of the primary is estimated to be 0.66 solar mass and if it originally started at one solar mass it has undergone significant loss of material. The star is now regarded as a low-amplitude Mira, and it May be on its way to eventually forming a planetary nebula.

It is helpful to see the physical nature of this system being unravelled. Continuing visual and instrumental observations are warranted as well as long base line observations to determine the orbital elements.

Bibliography Aline Homes, Pauline Loader, John Homes, Stan Walker, Andrew Pearce (2017). Changes in L2 Puppis reflected in historic data – Part 2. Variable Stars South Newsletter, 2017 January.

Another paper on L2 Puppis was published recently in Southern Stars. Stan Walker, Neil Butterworth, Terry Bohlsen, Giorgio di Scala, Peter Williams (2016). The multiple periods of L2 Puppis. Southern Stars, December 2016, pp 5 -10.

-- Alan Baldwin.

4. Fast Radio Burst Source Identified

For the first time, a team of astronomers has determined the position of a fast radio burst in the sky and in space.

The first of these puzzling events was announced in 2007, when Duncan Lorimer (West Virginia University) discovered one in archived data from the Parkes radio telescope in Australia. What made that burst (and all following bursts) truly spectacular was the fact that it was also smeared over a wide range of radio frequencies, with lower-frequency waves arriving later than their higher-frequency counterparts. This dispersion implied that the radio waves had travelled some 3 billion light-years to Earth, making the faraway source — whatever it was — unbelievably bright.

And if that really was the case, then these fast radio bursts might just be entirely new, previously undetected astronomical sources. That thought prompted more theoretical papers than the number of observed bursts.

In the decade since, astronomers have detected 18 additional fast radio bursts. It’s a small number when you consider that they might appear as often as 10,000 times per day. Although every one appears to be an extragalactic voyager, traversing great distances before reaching Earth, astronomers hadn’t been able to precisely pinpoint where these bursts are coming from — until now.

However, FRB 121102, an ultrabright, ultrabrief burst radio source first detected on 2 November 2012 has flared up several times, making it the only fast radio burst known to repeat.

One of the most popular explanations for fast radio bursts is that they’re one-off events, like collisions between neutron stars or collapsing supernovae. But when FRB 121102 was found to repeat that scenario was abandoned, at least for this source.

Those repetitions have helped astronomers finally tie the fast radio burst to its home galaxy. It’s a long-anticipated discovery that will help shed light on these enigmatic bursts.

Astronomers had speculated that the culprit might instead be some sort of powerful outburst from a rotating neutron star or perhaps a pulsar. The trouble is that the burst doesn’t appear to follow the periodic pattern that you would expect for an object that regularly rotates.

In order to better narrow down the burst’s source, astronomers needed to find out where it was, not just on the sky but in the universe. So the team used the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array in New Mexico with the hope of catching another one of its outbursts in a larger scope. They were lucky enough to detect not one, but nine additional bursts, allowing them to localize it to within one-tenth of an arcsecond. That’s 18,000 times smaller than the diameter of the full Moon.

To improve the position the team then used the European Very Long Baseline Interferometer Network — an array of radio dishes spread across Europe — and Arecibo to further refine its location. That did the trick. Not only were they able to see that the bursts originated from a faint smudge (some 100 million times fainter than the faintest star you can see with your naked eye), but they also coincided with a persistent radio source at the same location.

Follow-up observations with the Gemini North Telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, revealed that the smudge was actually a dwarf galaxy 2.5 billion light-years away.

This has allowed the first calculation of the intrinsic brightness of a fast radio burst. These affirm what many astronomers had suspected all along: these bursts are so bright they might push the boundaries of known physics. “Just for an instant, when this burst flashes, the luminosity of that burst outshines all the stars in its own galaxy by far,” said Sarah Burke-Spolaor (West Virginia University) at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society on January 4th. “It rivals the luminosity of an active galactic nuclei, which are formed from the power accreted onto a supermassive black hole.”

Although the nature of FRB 121102 remains unknown, hints can be gleaned from the fact that its host galaxy is a dwarf galaxy — disappointing news to those who argued for neutron stars. Because the galaxy doesn’t contain a high number of stars and because most of those stars seem relatively young, it likely doesn’t contain a high number of neutron stars, making this scenario less likely.

But if you’re looking for an intriguing culprit, don’t worry. Not only did the team pinpoint a host galaxy, but also a nearby persistent radio source within the galaxy. Although the exact relationship between the duo remains unclear, it’s likely that they’re somehow interacting. One scenario is that the persistent radio source is an active galactic nucleus that blows bubbles of plasma in space, which glow for a snapshot of time before they’re destroyed. That’s the fast radio burst. Since the galaxy will likely replenish those bubbles, this could happen again and again.

The authors are careful to point out that this is just speculation. The team plans to study the duo further with upcoming Hubble Space Telescope observations. In the meantime, they’re continuing to chase fast radio bursts with the hope that they’ll spot more repeating bursts and localize more in the coming years. “I would dare to say that every major astrophysical observatory is chasing this phenomenon,” said Burke-Spolaor.

Reference: S. Chatterjee et al. “A Direct Localization of a Fast Radio Burst and Its Host.” Nature, January 05, 2017.

-- Article by Shannon Hall on Sky & Telescope's webpage at http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/astronomers-trace-fast-radio-burst-to-a-surprising-source/

5. Conflicting Measures of the Hubble Constant?

By using galaxies as giant gravitational lenses, an international group of astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have made an independent measurement of how fast the Universe is expanding. The newly measured expansion rate for the local Universe is consistent with earlier findings. These are, however, in intriguing disagreement with measurements of the early Universe. This hints at a fundamental problem at the very heart of our understanding of the cosmos.

The Hubble constant — the rate at which the Universe is expanding — is one of the fundamental quantities describing our Universe. A group of astronomers from the H0LiCOW collaboration, led by Sherry Suyu (Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics, the Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Taiwan, and the Technical University of Munich), used the Hubble Space Telescope and other telescopes in space and on the ground to observe five galaxies in order to arrive at an independent measurement of the Hubble constant.

The new measurement is completely independent of — but in excellent agreement with — other measurements of the Hubble constant in the local Universe that used Cepheid variable stars and supernovae as points of reference.

However, the value measured by Suyu and her team, as well as those measured using Cepheids and supernovae, are different from the measurement made by the Planck satellite. But there is an important distinction — Planck measured the Hubble constant for the early Universe by observing the cosmic microwave background.

The H0LiCOW team determined a value for the Hubble constant of 71.9 ± 2.7 kilometres per second per Megaparsec. In 2016 scientists using Hubble measured a value of 73.24 ± 1.74 kilometres per second per Megaparsec. In 2015, the ESA Planck Satellite measured the constant with the highest precision so far and obtained a value of 66.93 ± 0.62 kilometres per second per Megaparsec. (A Megaparsec is 3.262 million light years.)

While the value for the Hubble constant determined by Planck fits with our current understanding of the cosmos, the values obtained by the different groups of astronomers for the local Universe are in disagreement with our accepted theoretical model of the Universe.

“The expansion rate of the Universe is now starting to be measured in different ways with such high precision that actual discrepancies May possibly point towards new physics beyond our current knowledge of the Universe,” elaborates Suyu.

See the full press release with images at http://www.spacetelescope.org/news/heic1702/

-- From the link passed along by Karen Pollard.

6. The Ancient Star That Faked Its Age

49 Librae, a relatively bright star in the southern sky, was until

recently believed to be 2.3 billion years old, or half as old as Earth’s Sun. Scientists have now proved this theory incorrect, finding that the star was in fact formed 12 billion years ago at the same time as the Milky Way. Researchers at the at Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) led by Dr Klaus Fuhrmann and Professor Rolf Chini have now revealed the reason behind scientists’ decades-long assumption of the star’s age, publishing their study in the Astrophysical Journal.

Scientists determine the age of stars based on their chemical composition. Old stars that had been formed during an early stage of the universe do not contain any heavy elements; this is because those elements were generated later, following the nuclear fusion of many generations of stars. 49 Lib does contain heavy elements, which led researchers to believe that it was a relatively young celestial body. However, it was discovered in 2016 that 49 Lib is part of a dual star system, its partner being an almost extinguished star that is as good as invisible. At the end of its life, as the partner star expanded, its matter would have escaped into space and been attracted by the gravity of the neighbouring 39 Lib, which would have absorbed it. And what did that expelled matter include? Heavy elements, of course!

The RUB researchers were further able to determine the age of 49 Lib based on its spectra, breaking the light emitted by the star into its individual components and decoding the wavelength at which the star emits the most light. This method enabled the team to track the dual system’s entire evolution: they now know, for example, the masses with which the star’s life had begun and how those masses have evolved since then.

The researchers revealed that both 49 Lib and its partner would have initially had similar mass properties as the Sun. When 49 Lib took over the matter of its extinguishing partner, it gained a weight of approximately 0.55 solar masses. The more mass, the shorter the star’s lifespan. The weight gain has thus reduced 49 Lib’s lifespan dramatically, so that the star will soon become a red giant.

As a red giant, 49 Lib will no longer be able to keep its matter together, undergoing the same process that its partner underwent as it turned into a white dwarf. Furthermore, part of the matter of 49 Lib will be attracted by its extinguishing star partner, thus returning it from whence it came. “If that partner cannot rid itself of the matter in small eruptions, it will fully explode as a supernova,” explained Professor Chini.

Slightly abridged from the Labonline article at http://www.labonline.com.au/content/research-development/news/the-ancient-star-that-faked-its-age-1152020963

The Astrophysical Journal abstract is at http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/1538-4357/834/2/114/meta

-- From the link passed along by Tony Ellis.

7. Micrometeoroids in the Gutter

Do you dread having to clean out the rain gutters. Try rethinking what it is you're cleaning. Mixed in with the muck and debris May just be a few tiny micrometeorites, debris literally from out of this world. A recent study out of Imperial College London, the London Natural History Museum, the University of Brussels, and a group known as Project Stardust has confirmed that there is a silent cosmic rain of micrometeoroids.

Micrometeoriods are small dust particles slamming into Earth's atmosphere as our planet orbits the Sun at 30 km/sec. They are notoriously difficult to study in their pristine state, but Project Stardust has been collecting the sediment from urban rooftop gutters for the past seven years in a bid to find them. And they succeeded: the recent study recovered a fascinating array of micrometeorites from the urban rooftops of Oslow, Norway and Paris, France.

Finding tiny bits of space debris isn't easy. Project Stardust collected and filtered through 300 kg of material from a total collection area covering 30,000 square meters. Of these, about 500 rocks passed stringent scrutiny.

To pick out these tiny needles from the metaphorical haystack, scientists first sifted through the collected debris with magnets, since most ordinary chondrite-type meteorites have a high iron content. Next, the scientists washed the remainder and then painstakingly sorted the rocks by size and shape. Finally, the final suspects were examined under a binocular microscope, where researchers looked for the lustre and spherical shape indicative of ablation during atmospheric entry. Of the 500 particles collected, 48 were then embedded in resin and polished for further characterization.

The micrometeorites collected are tiny, most just 300 to 400 micron in size. The largest of them are just under half a millimetre across, barely visible to the naked eye.

The idea of “rain gutter micrometeorites” is a matter of minor controversy in meteorite-collecting circles. The idea became vogue thanks to a 1940 micrometeorite study by American meteoriticist Harvey Nininger. However, later studies found that the abundance of magnetic microspherules dropped sharply away from urban areas, and modern pollution is full of metallic particulates that add a steady stream of false-positive “micrometeor wrongs,” confounding search efforts. Still, it's a fun and easy project to fit a bucket's bottom with an NIB (neodymium-iron-beryllium) super-magnet, place the bucket under the end of a rain gutter, and see what turns up.

In this study, the team specifically looked for micrometeorites that matched the mineral compositions of known samples, including deep-sea samples, as well as those from the South Pole Water Well in Antarctica, which also contain similar tell-tale iron-nickel and sulphide beads indicative of micrometeorites.

In addition to being the largest study to date of rooftop material, this also marks the first long-term measurement of the flux of incoming micrometeoroid dust. The team estimates that 100 tons of micrometeorite dust falls over Earth every day, with about one micrometeroid “hit” per square meter per year. Samples taken from the South Pole Water Well, Larkman Nunatak moraine, and Cap Prud'homme in Antarctica also chronicle the steady flux of micrometeoroid bombardment over the past million years.

Antarctic studies also find a subtle change in the composition of relic material as well. The rooftop study isn't carried out over a long enough timescale to confirm this result, but it can give context. “[The new study] is the only sampling of verified micrometeorites from roof tops,” says Matthew Genge (Imperial College London). “Because these are the youngest large particles, it allows us to make comparisons with those collected over a much longer period.”

NASA is also interested in the flux of micrometeoroids through the near-Earth environment. Astronauts have chronicled impacts on the International Space Station, such as one that ripped through one of the station's solar arrays in 2013. Shuttle engineers would also routinely find pits from micrometeoroid impacts on the windows of orbiters back when the fleet was in service. Spalling caused by micrometeroid impacts on the space station's exterior is also a concern, as the sharp edges of these tiny pits seen on exterior handles could easily rip a spacesuit glove.

Despite the challenges inherent in collection and analysis, Project Stardust founder Jon Larsen continues to encourage amateur urban meteorite hunters on his Facebook page. "The holy grail of the research on micrometeorites," Larsen says, "will be to find a way to separate micrometeorites from terrestrial contamination."

See the paper abstract at http://geology.gsapubs.org/content/45/2/119.abstract

-- Abridged from an article by David Dickinson on Sky & Telescope's webpage at http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/new-study-hunts-for-rain-gutter-micrometeorites/

8. Space May Wreak Havoc on Your Body

Nothing in our lives is more pervasive than gravity. We can shield our senses from the effects of light, sound, or any other sort of input, but there is no way to shield ourselves from the downward tug of the Earth’s gravitational field. Our bodies evolved to function well in gravity; our bones support us, our muscles strain against it, even our organs sit in positions that respond to the pull of gravity. Venturing into space and away from the presence of gravity is not something that evolution prepared our bodies or our minds to do.

At first, people wondered if astronauts in space would be able to eat and digest food (they can), or if their blood would flow properly (it does, for the most part). That much was comforting; maybe this wouldn’t be so hard, after all.

But what happens in the long run? If humans are ever going to undertake significantly long journeys away from the Earth, we’d better be very clear about what impact living away from gravity, or in reduced gravity (like on the Moon or Mars) is going to have on our bodies.

Luckily for us, we have an absolutely amazing tool to learn more about how to live and work away from gravity: the International Space Station. It sort of boggles my mind that we’ve had people in space, continuously, for more than 16 years now. And last year, Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko spent a year in space together — a year filled with every poke and prod and medical experiment they could do up there to try to nail down exactly what was happening to their bodies over time.

To make matters even more interesting, Mark Kelly, Scott’s twin and also an astronaut, stayed on the ground but volunteered to be subjected to the exact same experiments as a control sample. The data taken from these people will be invaluable in planning a journey to Mars, where astronauts will be required to make a journey of six months or more, then arrive strong, healthy, and ready to begin setting up habitats and begin exploring the red planet.

NASA anticipated some challenges: maintaining bone mass is a problem, and astronauts work out for hours every day to keep their muscles strong. But some things were unexpected, like degraded vision and a higher likelihood of kidney stones. Other issues seemed trivial at first, but they might wear down morale over long periods of time: how would you like to feel like you have the flu, or to not be able to taste your food for months on end?

So living and working in space isn’t so easy after all. Right now, we are honestly not sure how to get people all the way to Mars and keep them healthy. But it’s not time to get discouraged; it’s time to learn everything we can. We are getting better all the time at keeping our bodies working well in space, and we will be armed with that knowledge, someday, when we arrive on the surface of Mars. And above your head right now, careening around the Earth once every 90 minutes, is the laboratory filled with the amazing people that will get us there.

For links to the podcast by Michelle Thaller see http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-resources/orbital-path-astronomy-podcast/orbital-path-warning-space-wreak-havoc-human-body/

https://soundcloud.com/prx/you-had-me-at-pee-brittle---------- See 'Scientific American' February 2017, p.50-55, for more bad news for would-be interplanetary space travellers.

9. Auroral Stamp and Coin Issue

John Hearnshaw points out that NZ Post as a stamp issued featuring the Aurora Australis and Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve with images recorded from Mt John. The details are at https://stamps.nzpost.co.nz/new-zealand/2017/southern-lights The set of six stamps was first issued on 8 Feb.

They have also issued a pricey 1oz silver proof coin that replicates the auroral effect with holography. The web link is the same as above.

10. How to Join the RASNZ

RASNZ membership is open to all individuals with an interest in astronomy in New Zealand. Information about the society and its objects can be found at http://rasnz.org.nz/rasnz/membership-benefits A membership form can be either obtained from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by completing the online application form found at http://rasnz.org.nz/rasnz/membership-application Basic membership for the 2016 year starts at $40 for an ordinary member, which includes an electronic subscription to our journal 'Southern Stars'.

11. Gifford-Eiby Lecture Fund

The RASNZ administers the Gifford-Eiby Memorial Lectureship Fund to assist Affiliated Societies with travel costs of getting a lecturer or instructor to their meetings. Details are in RASNZ By-Laws Section H.

For an application form contact the Executive Secretary This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Nichola van der Aa, 32A Louvain Street, Whakatane 3120.

12. Kingdon-Tomlinson Fund

The RASNZ is responsible for recommending to the trustees of the Kingdon Tomlinson Fund that grants be made for astronomical projects. The grants May be to any person or persons, or organisations, requiring funding for any projects or ventures that promote the progress of astronomy in New Zealand. Applications are now invited for grants from the Kingdon-Tomlinson Fund. The application should reach the Secretary by 1 May 2017. There will be a secondary round of applications later in the year. Full details are set down in the RASNZ By-Laws, Section J.

For an application form contact the RASNZ Executive Secretary, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Nichola van der Aa, 32A Louvain Street, Whakatane 3120.

13. Quotes

"xkcd.com is best viewed with Netscape Navigator 4.0 or below on a Pentium 3±1 emulated in Javascript on an Apple IIGS at a screen resolution of 1024x1. Please enable your ad blockers, disable high-heat drying, and remove your device from Airplane Mode and set it to Boat Mode. For security reasons, please leave caps lock on while browsing." -- Randall Munroe.

"You Matter -- unless you multiply yourself by the speed of light… then you energy." -- Blackboard sign posted on https://www.facebook.com/scienceteeshirts/ photos/

Newsletter editor:

Alan Gilmore Phone: 03 680 6817
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Lake Tekapo 7945
New Zealand

RASNZ Electronic Newsletter January 2017

The RASNZ Email newsletter is distributed by email on or near the 20th of each month. If you would like to be on the circulation list This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for a copy. The latest issue is below.

Email Newsletter Number 193

Affiliated Societies are welcome to reproduce any item in this email newsletter or on the RASNZ website http://www.rasnz.org.nz/ in their own newsletters provided an acknowledgement of the source is also included.

Contents

1. RASNZ 2016 Dark Sky Awards
2. Starlight Highway Named
3. The Solar System in February
4. Star Parties in Early 2017
5. 2017 Conference - Call for Papers
6. Variable Star News
7. Vera Rubin
8. Northern Nova in 2022?
9. How to Join the RASNZ
10. Gifford-Eiby Lecture Fund
11. Kingdon-Tomlinson Fund
12. Quotes

1. RASNZ 2016 Dark Sky Awards

According to the 2016 World Atlas of Artificial Night Sky Brightness (http://cires.colorado.edu/Artificial-light), only17% of New Zealanders can see the Milky Way, even though it is visible from 96% of our land area. Our dark sky heritage is constantly being eroded, but there is a lot that can be done to reduce or mitigate encroaching light pollution. RASNZ, the Auckland Astronomical Society (AAS) and numerous individuals are doing what they can to educate and improve the policies and practices of local government and the lighting industry, and the awareness and understanding of the public at large.

It is therefore pleasing to note that over the past year noticeable improvements in the night skies of two major cities have become apparent. The changeover of street lighting to LED systems begun in Auckland and Christchurch is already generating anecdotal reports of much less local sky glow, and reduced glare viewed from roads and footpaths.

In Auckland, to investigate the informal reports of improved street lighting, the AAS has undertaken the Dark Sky Background Survey Project. Society members are using Unihedron Sky Quality Meters to report data from as wide a coverage of this large city (4,500 km2) as possible.

The approach is similar to the Perth study by Biggs et al. published in 2012 (http://mnras.oxfordjournals.org/content/421/2/1450). Data gathering is progressing very well, with measurements and analysis to be completed by March 2017.

The RASNZ Dark Sky Awards are given as part of the annual lighting Awards organised by the NZ Chapter of the Illuminating Engineering Society of Australia and New Zealand (IESANZ). The aim is to both encourage and reward lighting designs and innovations that protect and promote dark sky environments and policies.

Six entries in this year´s competition were eligible for consideration for an RASNZ Dark Sky Award. It was very pleasing to see some degree of sensitivity in all these submission to mitigating or eliminating sky glow, and to providing good shielding, energy-saving system controls, warmer colour temperature of luminaires, and minimal glare and light trespass.

However, all this year´s entries had some aspects that were less than desirable from the dark sky perspective, and none had that `wow´ factor to overcome their shortcomings. Unfortunately, no `Excellence´ award was therefore made this year. This is the first time in the six years I have had the privilege of judging these awards that this has occurred.

On the other hand, as mentioned above, all the entries showed an often strong awareness of how their design could meet dark sky expectations. Two awards were therefore made, one `Highly Commended´ and one `Commended´.

The Foster Recreation Park (Stage 1 Sports Park Lighting) Project in Dunedin received a Highly Commended Dark Sky Award. Lighting design was by C. Hoy from Musco Lighting Australia for the Selwyn District Council.

There are many complications designing good lighting for sports fields. Unfortunately, the solutions to lighting the numerous fields well and keeping costs down frequently come at the expense of local neighbourhoods.

It is heartening to see the lighting at this park providing great cut-off with virtually no light spill beyond the fields. While future luminaire and design developments and improvements will be welcome, this is a good first step to protecting the night sky and residential areas neighbouring local sports fields.

The Dark Sky Commended Award went to the Wellington Public Trust Building Facade Project. Lighting design was by Greig Blackler and Sean Clancey of Pacific Consultants for Maurice Clark of Cheops Holdings Ltd.

All too often the feature lighting for public and historical building facades incorporates upward lighting that makes little or no allowance for a dark night sky. The use of blade optics in this lighting design achieves the aim of highlighting the architectural features, without uplights flooding the sky with unwanted and wasted illumination.

We can be justly proud of our lighting designers in New Zealand, who are of international standard. Past Dark Sky Award projects have been well deserved winning designs, which I hope provide inspiration for future outdoor design projects.

This year, for the first time, international excellence awards were given that included both New Zealand and Australia. With the IESANZ President, Adele Locke, visiting from Australia to present these new awards, it was a proud moment to see the design for the façade of 45 Queen Street receive an Award of Excellence, as this project won the Dark Sky Award for Excellence last year.

The IESANZ competition also includes indoor lighting designs of course, and the Supreme Brilliance Award went to the `Gallipoli: the Scale of Our War´ exhibition at Te Papa Museum, designed by Sir Richard Taylor from Weta Workshop. Nice to beat the Aussies...

-- David Britten

2. Starlight Highway Named

People travelling through the Mackenzie District will soon be doing so on the Starlight Highway. A proposal to re-name the stretches of highway connecting Fairlie to Mt Cook the 'Starlight Highway' has been given the green light by the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA). The decision was expected to add to the district's reputation as an astro-tourism mecca.

The Mackenzie District Council submitted a formal proposal to NZTA earlier in the year to change the name of the sections of highway from Fairlie to Twizel, and Twizel to Mt Cook. Mayor Graham Smith said it was great news for the district.

The proposal was initially started by astronomer Rebecca Greatrex, who pitched the idea to the Mackenzie District Council and then mayor Claire Barlow. The council got on board, and worked to push it through with NZTA, Smith said. "It brings fantastic recognition to the area, with such a great night sky. Rebecca put a lot of time and a lot of effort into it."

A special new sign depicting the night sky over the Mackenzie Basin had been created, and would be displayed in Fairlie. Any future references to the stretch of road in guide books and maps would also use the new name, Smith said.

The highway proposal had been backed by Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean, who called it "visionary". "It's yet another component to making Tekapo the go-to place internationally for stargazing," she said. "I totally support it."

More than 3.6 million people visited the Mackenzie District between February 2015 and January 2016, according to figures released by Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism.

The news follows several developments in the district's astro-tourism sector in recent months. Tekapo company Earth and Sky was granted $3 million in government funding this week, which will be used to construct the company's new multi-million dollar astronomy centre. Co-owner Graeme Murray said up to 300 people visited the company when it began 12 years ago. That number was expected to rise to more than 200,000 this summer.

Tourism operator Tekapo Springs has also announced it will venture into the astro-tourism market. Its new venture, Tekapo Star Gazing, will launch in early 2017.

>From http://www.stuff.co.nz/travel/news/87379832/starlight-highway-name-change-confirmed-for-mackenzie

3. The Solar System in February

Dates and times shown are NZDT (UT + 13 hours).

Rise and set times are for Wellington. They will vary by a few minutes elsewhere in NZ.

Sunrise, sunset and twilight times in February

                  February 1  NZDT              February 28 NZDT
                  morning  evening              morning  evening
       SUN: rise: 6.24am,  set: 8.43pm     rise: 6.58am,  set: 8.07pm
Twilights
Civil:    starts: 5.56am, ends: 9.12pm   starts: 6.32am, ends: 8.34pm
Nautical: starts: 5.18am, ends: 9.50pm   starts: 5.58am, ends: 9.08pm
Astro:    starts: 4.36am, ends:10.32pm   starts: 5.23am, ends: 9.43pm

February PHASES OF THE MOON (times as shown by GUIDE)

          First quarter: February  4 at  5.19 pm (04:19 UT)
  Full moon:     February 11 at  1.33 pm (00:33 UT)
  Last quarter   February 19 at  8.33 am (Feb 18, 19:33 UT)
  New moon:      February 27 at  3.59 am (Feb 26, 14:59 UT)

Eclipses

Neither the penumbral eclipse of the Moon on February 11 nor the annular eclipse of the Sun on the 26th, are visible from New Zealand. Further details of both eclipses can be found on the RASNZ web page, <www.rasnz.org.nz/in-the-sky/eclipses>.

The planets in February 2017

Venus remains the obvious bright planet in the evening sky but gets considerably lower, setting earlier, during the month. Mars, much fainter, is only a few degrees higher. Jupiter begins to move into the late evening sky; in the morning sky it will be joined by Saturn and, during the first part of the month, by Mercury.

Evening planets, Venus and Mars

Venus will remain brilliant in the evening sky throughout February reaching magnitude -4.8 by the 28th. It will get much lower in the western sky during the month, setting before 9 pm, about 45 minutes after the Sun, at the end of February. The planet is in Pisces all month.

MARS will be about 5.5° above and to the right of Venus on the 1st, with the crescent moon less than 3° away on the other side of Mars. With a magnitude 1.1, while still quite bright, Mars will have less than 1% of the brilliance of Venus.

For the first few days of February the relative positions of two planets will change little, both moving to the east through the stars. Later in the month, as Venus' apparent motion slows, Mars will draw away from it. Venus is stationary early in March

Towards the end of February, Mars will pass Uranus. The two are closest on the evening of the 27th, when Uranus will be just over half a degree to the upper left of Mars. With a magnitude 5.9, Uranus will be an easy binocular object, with no star of a similar magnitude close by.

By the end of February Mars will set about 100 minutes after the Sun and nearly an hour later than Venus.

Late evening and morning

JUPITER rises near 11.30 pm on the 1st and 9.40 on the 28th. So by then it will be an obvious late evening object to the east. Anyone who has seen Jupiter in the morning sky recently will know that it is close to the first magnitude star Spica. Early in the month their separation will be 3.6°. On the 6th Jupiter is stationary, after that date it will start moving slowly to the west as the faster moving Earth begins to catch up with the planet. The resulting retrograde motion of Jupiter after the 6th will increase its distance very slightly from Spica.

On the night of the 15th and 16th the 80% lit waning moon will pass Jupiter. The two are closest at about 5 a.m. on the 16th when the moon will be 3° below Jupiter with Spica 3.6° above the planet, the three forming a line near to dawn.

Morning

SATURN rises about 2.40 a.m. on the 1st and an hour after midnight on the 28th. The planet is in Ophiuchus until the 21st when it moves into Sagittarius. The

  1. lit waning moon will be 5° to the left of Saturn on the morning of February 21.

Saturn's ring system is now wide open as seen from the Earth. The planet's north pole is tilted towards us by over 26°. This is sufficient to bring the far edge of the ring system into view over the north pole of Saturn. Also the satellites, visible in a fairly small telescope, will appear scattered around the planet in a pattern changing from night to night.

MERCURY rises about an hour and three-quarters before the Sun on February 1 so it should be visible in the morning sky about an hour before sunrise. The planet will then be a low 7° a little to the south of east. On the 1st Mercury is in Sagittarius at magnitude -0.2, it will be a little below the handle of the "teapot". During February Mercury moves out of Sagittarius, first into Capricornus on the 7th and then into Aquarius on the 24th. At the same time, its elongation from the Sun will steadily decrease. As a result the planet will be lost to view in the twilight glow by about the middle of the month.

The moon, as a very thin crescent, will be 5° to the left of Mercury on the morning of the 26th.

Outer Planets

URANUS, at 5.8 to 5.9, remains in Pisces and is best observe early evening. On the 1st about 12.30 am and about 10.30 pm on the 28th. As noted above it is close to Mars at the end of the month giving an easy opportunity to locate the outer planet in binoculars. On the 2nd, the 30% lit waxing moon will be just under 3° to the upper left of Uranus.

NEPTUNE is in Aquarius at magnitude 8.0 throughout February. Nominally in the evening sky, it will be too close to the Sun to observe. It sets just 7 minutes after the Sun on the 28th.

PLUTO was at conjunction with the Sun on January 7, so will be moving into the morning sky during February. The planet is still in Sagittarius and will rise at 2.40 am on the 28th.

Minor Planets

(1) CERES is an early evening object. It starts the month in Pisces but moves across a corner of Cetus starting on the 13th. The asteroid is a 9th magnitude object.

(4) VESTA is also an evening object in February with a magnitude fading from 6.6 to 7.1 during the month. It will move to the west through Gemini and will be between 3 and 4° from beta Gem, Pollux, magnitude 1.2.

Four other asteroids brighten sufficiently to be visible in binoculars during the month. Three of them (9) METIS, (14) IRENE and (29) AMPHITRITE are in Leo, although Irene crosses a spur of Leo Minor from the 3rd to the 12th. The fourth, (15) Eunomia is in Sextans. All four brighten to between magnitude 9.0 and 9.2. Three of them are at opposition during February, Eunomia February 16/17, Irene February 23/27 and Metis the following night. Amphitrite brightens from 9.8 on the 1st to 9.2 on the 28th. It is at opposition in March.

Comets.

Two comets May be visible in binoculars during February. Magnitudes shown are estimates for the whole comet.

P/Encke (2P) is in Pisces fairly close to Venus. It brightens during the month from magnitude 11.4 on the 1st to 5.5 on the 28th. Unfortunately as it brightens so it gets lower in the western early evening sky. By the 28th it will set only 34 minutes after the Sun making it virtually unobservable.

P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova (45P) moves into the morning sky at the beginning of February. On the 8th it will be at magnitude 8.3. Two mornings later (10th) at 8.5 it will 6° to the lower left of alpha Oph (2.1). On the 13th 2° below alpha CrB (2.2) and on the mornings of 15 and 16 Feb at mag 9.2 it will be 12.5°below Arcturus (mag 0.2). Thus it will remain a very low object for NZ observers.

-- Brian Loader

4. Star Parties in Early 2017

Stardate NI (North Island): Friday 27th - Sunday 29th January. Richard Hall writes, `Stardate 2017 is to be held at Stonehenge Aotearoa on January 27th to 29th 2017. However, participants May arrive earlier or stay later than these dates. In addition to a 3-day program of astronomical lectures, workshops and observing, we have movies, a geology field trip, live music and of course barbecues. This is an attractive site with good swimming holes in the Ruamahanga River just down the road. The wine growing areas of Martinborough, Gladstone and Masterton are within 30 minutes. There is a thriving tourist industry with many activities and venues available within the same distance´. For further information phone (06) 377 1600 or visit www.astronomynz.org

Stardate SI (South Island): Friday 17th - Monday 20th February. Stardate SI will be held at a "Christian" hostel and camp at Staveley between Friday February Friday 17th to Monday 20th February 2017. Organiser Euan Mason writes, `There's nothing particularly religious about Stardate, although Phil Barker reports a religious experience when he views the cosmos through his twin brother Kevin's 5" Zeiss refractor. Come and join us for this magnificent celebration of astronomy, science, and the cosmos at large´. For more details see - http://www.treesandstars.com/stardate/

-- From 'Keeping in Touch' #19. 23 October 2016

5. 2017 Conference - Call for Papers

It is a pleasure to announce that the next conference of the Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand (RASNZ) will be held in Dunedin over the weekend of 12th -14th May 2017. Our guest speaker will be Professor Joss Bland-Hawthorn from the University of Sydney, and the Fellows´ Lecture for 2017 will be delivered by Jennie McCormick. Titles and abstracts for these talks will be released when they are available.

The RASNZ standing conference committee (SCC) invites and encourages anyone interested in New Zealand Astronomy to submit oral or poster papers, with titles and abstracts due by 1st April 2017 or at such time as the SCC deems the conference programme to be full. The link to the paper submission form can be found on the RASNZ Conference website www.rasnz.org.nz/Conference. Please note that you must be registered for the conference to give an oral presentation and for your convenience a link has been provided if you wish to do this when you register.

Following the conference, the 11th Trans-Tasman Symposium on Occultations (TTSO11) will be held at the conference venue on Monday/Tuesday 15th - 16th May. Details of the registration for TTSO11 will be available with the registration form for the conference, and paper submissions should be sent directly to the convenor Murray Forbes (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). Note that this workshop will only be held if there is sufficient interest, so please register as soon as you can. We look forward to receiving your submissions and seeing you at the conference. Please feel free to forward this message to anyone who May find it of interest.

For further information on the RASNZ conference, registration details and associated events please visit the conference website at www.rasnz.org.nz/Conference

-- Warwick Kissling, RASNZ Standing Conference Committee.

6. Variable Star News

Variable Stars South News Another quarterly newsletter (2017 January) of Variable Stars South is currently being prepared and will be posted on the website ( www.variablestarssouth.org ) by the end of January. To find Newsletters go to tab Community/heading Newsletters.

The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope RNZ (Radio New Zealand) is running a TED talk series on Sunday nights. (TED stands for "Technology, Education & Design"). The TED Radio Hour programme on 15th January was based on talks given on "Big Data". The last topic of the night was an astronomical one, describing a new telescope being installed in Chile. The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) is due to be operating by 2019 and is designed to greatly multiply the discovery of supernova. The survey is scheduled to be completed by 2030. The current estimates of dark energy are based on a limited number of supernova observations and this work is designed to give a lot more data to work with. As well as the physical telescope there will need to be massive computing power to deal with the amount of data being generated by the images.

The item was based on a TED talk by Professor Andrew Connelly, University of Washington. If you go to the RNZ TED talk web-site you can either listen to the radio programme or you can find the original pod-cast by Prof Andrew Connelly: - "What Data will be Discovered by the World´s Most Powerful Telescope".

The RNZ link is http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ted/audio/201828101/big-data-revolution-15-January

-- Alan Baldwin.

7. Vera Rubin

Vera Rubin, the astronomer who established the existence of dark matter, died on December 25th at age 88.

When in 1965 Vera Rubin arrived for a four-day stint at "the monastery", as the Palomar Observatory, home of the world´s largest telescope, was dubbed, there were no women´s lavatories. No female astronomer had ever worked there before. How could they, when it would mean walking home late at night?

It had been the same thinking at high school. When she told her revered science teacher of her scholarship to Vassar he said: "You should do OK as long as you stay away from science." She was the only astronomy major to graduate there in her year. When in 1947 she requested a graduate-school catalogue from Princeton, the dean told her not to bother: women were not accepted for physics and astronomy. George Gamow, later her doctoral adviser, said she could not attend his lecture at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab "because wives were not allowed".

She was indeed a wife. She married - aged 19 - Robert Rubin, a physicist whom she followed to Cornell, sacrificing her place at Harvard. He was, she said, her greatest ally. Later, when she attended night classes at Georgetown University, he drove her there, eating his dinner in the car until he could drive her home, while her parents baby-sat. Still, she found raising four children "almost overwhelming". When she halted her academic career - the worst six months of her life - she wept every time the Astrophysical Journal arrived in the house. But, working part-time, she made sure to be home when the kids returned from school. She never inspected their rooms, she said, and they grew up fine, all with PhDs in science or maths.

Her master´s thesis was, her Cornell supervisor said, worthy of being presented to the American Astronomical Society. But she was about to give birth, so, he suggested, he would present it - but in his name. She refused. Her parents drove up from Washington and took their 22-year-old daughter, nursing her newborn, on a gruelling snowy trip from upstate New York to Philadelphia. She addressed the roomful of strangers for ten minutes about galaxy rotation, soaked up some patronising criticism and a smidgen of praise - and left.

Though rows were unpleasant, defeat was worse. "Protest every all-male meeting, every all-male department, every all-male platform," she advised. At Palomar, she made a ladies´ room by sticking a handmade skirt sign on a men´s room door (she returned a year later: it was gone).

She´d never anticipated such problems. Her father encouraged her childhood habit of watching meteor showers, leaning out of her bedroom window and memorising their geometry in order to look them up later. He even helped her make her first telescope, from a cardboard tube; she had already made her own kaleidoscope. She hadn´t ever met an astronomer, but it never occurred to her that she couldn´t be one. But her early research was largely ignored. In other work, male astronomers elbowed her aside. Fed up, she looked for a problem "that people would be interested in, but not so interested in that anyone would bother me before I was done."

She found it. In the 1930s Fritz Zwicky, an idiosyncratic Swiss astrophysicist, had suggested that the brightly shining stars represented only a part of the cosmic whole. There must also be "dark matter", unseen but revealed indirectly by the effects of its gravity. That conjecture languished on the margins until Ms Rubin, working with her colleague Kent Ford, examined the puzzle of galactic rotation. Spiral galaxies such as Andromeda, she proved, were spinning so fast that their outer stars should be flying away into the never-never. They weren´t. So either Einstein was wrong about gravity, or gravitational pull from vast amounts of something invisible - dark matter - was holding the stars together.

The discovery reshaped cosmology, though initially her colleagues embraced it unenthusiastically. Astronomers had thought they were studying the whole universe, not just a small luminous fraction of it. New theories developed on what the matter might be - but its fugitive particles escaped all direct detection.

Some are worried by the absence. Ms Rubin was unbothered. Astronomy, she reckoned, was "out of kindergarten, but only in about the third grade". Many of the universe´s deep mysteries remained to be discovered by eye and brain, with all the joy that involved.

There were other scientific feats, too: in 1992 she discovered NGC 4550, a galaxy in which half the stars orbit in one direction, mingled with half that head the other way. She won medals aplenty: the Gold Medal of Britain´s Royal Astronomical Society (last awarded to a woman in 1828) and America´s National Medal of Science. Princeton, which had once shunned her, was among the many universities to award her an honorary doctorate. She gave notable commencement speeches.

The plaudits were pleasant, but numbers mattered more: the greatest compliment would be if astronomers years hence still used her data, she insisted. She was a perennial favourite for a Nobel prize in physics - only ever awarded to two women. That call never came: like dark matter, her fans lamented, she was vitally important, but easy to overlook.

-- From The Economist, 7 January 2017, p.66. See also http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/vera-rubin-mother-of-dark-matter-dies-at-88

8. Northern Nova in 2022?

Some astronomers suspect that a binary star system in Cygnus is preparing to make one star of two, erupting in a red nova that will be visible to the naked eye from northern places.

If Lawrence Molnar (Calvin College) and his colleagues are correct, the two stars in the binary KIC 9832227 are about to merge. Stellar mergers are not a new idea. Astronomers suspect they happen in densely populated places, such as globular clusters. One team also recently suggested that the famed red supergiant Betelgeuse might be the result of a merger, explaining its unusually fast spin.

Astronomers have already (probably) observed a stellar merger. In 2008, the star V1309 Scorpii revealed its existence when it suddenly flared. Follow-up work by Romuald Tylenda (Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Center, Poland) and colleagues, using more than 2,000 archival observations from the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE), determined that V1309 Sco was likely a contact binary star. Contact binaries are stars that orbit so close together that they share a common outer atmosphere, like two peanuts inside their mutual dumbbell shell.

At first, Tylenda´s team concluded, V1309 Sco´s two stars orbited each other about every 1.4 days. That period shortened exponentially with time as the stars´ outer atmospheres combined to wrap them both in a single envelope. When this happened, the object began to brighten, then faster, until the two stellar cores merged, releasing energy and dazzling observers with an outburst 10,000 times brighter than the contact binary´s original luminosity.

Although astronomers aren't sure how bright it will become if the stellar pair mergers, it could potentially rise to 2nd magnitude, easily naked eye.

This 12th-magnitude binary lies in the constellation Cygnus, with a current orbital period of about 11 hours. Back in 2013, one of Molnar´s students had discovered that the period was growing shorter; follow-up work showed the change was accelerating, as V1309 Sco´s had before its eruption. Molnar suggested in 2015 that KIC 9832227 might be heading toward a crash, but at the time his group wasn´t sure if the change was due to a distant, unseen companion star instead.

Using a variety of observations spanning 17 years, the team has now found a closer companion - which might have driven the binary into contact in the first place - but nothing farther out that could explain the apparent change in period. They also found that the period has continued to shorten, as expected if the stars are spiralling in toward each other. Although the overall change is only about 1 second, that´s notable in a field with eight decimal points of precision. Thus, lacking a solid alternative, they´re going with the imminent merger scenario.

Using V1309 Sco as a model, the astronomers predict that KIC 9832227´s duo will merge in 2022, give or take a year. Molnar announced this on January 6th at a press conference at the winter American Astronomical Society meeting in Dallas.

Even assuming the team's explanation is the correct one, there are still several unknowns. For example, the researchers don't know when the outburst will begin. V1309 Sco started brightening nearly 2 years before its great flash, but given KIC 9832227´s characteristics, its uptick might only begin a month in advance, the team estimates.

Other binary-star astronomers are skeptical. Statistically, it's unlikely to have turned up this kind of system without trawling through a much larger number of stars, Tylenda points out. Another astronomer wondered whether the model used to predict the timing for this whole process is really dependable enough to pinpoint 2022.

Sadly the star is too low for all but northernmost NZ. Its coordinates are (2000) RA 19h 29m 15.95s, Dec. +46° 37´ 19.9". That's more than 1° north and well east of Deneb, or 12° NE of Vega.

V1309 Sco is a member of a larger category of stellar outbursts called red novae. The token example of this class is V838 Monocerotis, sighted in 2002 and known for the spectacular Hubble Space Telescope images of its light echo illuminating surrounding dust. But astronomers are hesitant to assert that mergers could explain all red novae.

References: L. A. Molnar et al. "Prediction of a Red Nova Outburst in KIC 9832227." Presented at the American Astronomical Society meeting, abstract 417.04. R. Tylenda et al. "V1309 Scorpii: Merger of a Contact Binary." Astronomy & Astrophysics, April 2011.

-- Mostly from an article by Camille M. Carlisle on Sky & Telescope's website. The original with images is at http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/stars-en-route-to-merger/

9. How to Join the RASNZ

RASNZ membership is open to all individuals with an interest in astronomy in New Zealand. Information about the society and its objects can be found at http://rasnz.org.nz/rasnz/membership-benefits A membership form can be either obtained from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by completing the online application form found at http://rasnz.org.nz/rasnz/membership-application Basic membership for the 2016 year starts at $40 for an ordinary member, which includes an electronic subscription to our journal 'Southern Stars'.

10. Gifford-Eiby Lecture Fund

The RASNZ administers the Gifford-Eiby Memorial Lectureship Fund to assist Affiliated Societies with travel costs of getting a lecturer or instructor to their meetings. Details are in RASNZ By-Laws Section H.

For an application form contact the Executive Secretary This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Nichola van der Aa, 32A Louvain Street, Whakatane 3120.

11. Kingdon-Tomlinson Fund

The RASNZ is responsible for recommending to the trustees of the Kingdon Tomlinson Fund that grants be made for astronomical projects. The grants May be to any person or persons, or organisations, requiring funding for any projects or ventures that promote the progress of astronomy in New Zealand. Applications are now invited for grants from the Kingdon-Tomlinson Fund. The application should reach the Secretary by 1 May 2017. There will be a secondary round of applications later in the year. Full details are set down in the RASNZ By-Laws, Section J.

For an application form contact the RASNZ Executive Secretary, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Nichola van der Aa, 32A Louvain Street, Whakatane 3120.

12. Quotes

"Scientists get very sure of the things that they think they're sure of. And sometimes they've been wrong - and when they are, it's a hell of a job to change the folklore." -- John Kormendy (University of Texas at Austin), passed along by Bob Evans.

"No matter how humble the spirit it's offered in, a sermon is an act of aggression." -- Ursula Le Guin.

Newsletter editor:

Alan Gilmore Phone: 03 680 6817
P.O. Box 57 Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Lake Tekapo 7945
New Zealand

RASNZ Electronic Newsletter December 2016

The RASNZ Email newsletter is distributed by email on or near the 20th of each month. If you would like to be on the circulation list This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for a copy. The latest issue is below.

Email Newsletter Number 192

Affiliated Societies are welcome to reproduce any item in this email newsletter or on the RASNZ website http://www.rasnz.org.nz/ in their own newsletters provided an acknowledgement of the source is also included.

Contents

1. IAU Standardizes 212 Traditional Star Names
2. Aurora & Solar Section - Director Sought
3. The Solar System in January
4. Star Parties in Early 2017
5. 2017 Conference - Call for Papers
6. Variable Star News - R Aurigae
7. Science Can Inform Better Lighting Decisions
8. John Glenn
9. Icy Ceres
10. How to Join the RASNZ
11. Gifford-Eiby Lecture Fund
12. Kingdon-Tomlinson Fund
13. Quotes

Standardizes 212 Traditional Star Names ----------

In a series of resolutions from 1922 to 1930, the International Astronomical Union approved standard spellings, abbreviations, and definitions for the 88 official constellations. Before this reform, several other constellations were recognized by some but not all astronomers: for instance, Quadrans Muralis, now preserved only in the name of the Quadrantid meteor shower. Even for the universally recognized constellations, there was no consensus where one stopped and another started. That caused grave problems with respect to newly discovered variable stars, because variable-star designations need to name the constellation that the star is in.

The IAU constellation reforms were wildly successful, and there was widespread hope that a similar procedure could be applied to traditional star names such as Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky. But that did not happen, for many reasons.

First, there was no urgent need among professional astronomers, because all the stars with traditional names also have official designations. Sirius, for instance, is unambiguously designated as Alpha Canis Majoris. Second, whereas 88 constellations suffice to tile the entire sky, the star-naming problem is open-ended. Several thousand stars are visible to the unaided eye, and millions more are visible through modest-sized telescopes. No way are all of those going to get colloquial names -- but where to stop?

Finally, the star-name situation was far more chaotic than the constellations before the IAU reforms. The Yale Bright Star Catalog lists approximately 900 names that have been used at one time or another for approximately 400 stars. Most of those stars have multiple names, and a fair number of names have been applied to multiple stars. What a mess!

The IAU has now created order out of this chaos, giving official status to 212 of these names. That brings the total number of IAU-approved star names to 227, including: 14 stars with exoplanets approved in December 2015 212 bright stars with traditional-sounding names, almost all of them in use by 1900 1 faint but very important star discovered in 1915: Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the Sun.

With any luck, the IAU's standardization of star names will prove as successful as the constellations it standardized almost a century ago. Expect the myriad conflicting usages in popular books and magazines to converge toward the IAU names over the next several years.

Why hasn't this been more of a problem in the past? Largely because most of these "popular" star names aren't really all that popular — and never have been. The name Sirius has been in continuous use with minor spelling variations for more than two millennia, but that's a rare exception. Roughly half the star names in the IAU list, while traditional sounding, were in fact invented after 1800. There was never a time when everyday people knew hundreds of stars by name — these "traditional" names are almost certainly used more widely today than ever before.

-- Abridged from the article by Tony Flanders at http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/iau-standardizes-212-traditional-star-names/ Informative comments follow it.

The IAU list can be downloaded from http://www.pas.rochester.edu/~emamajek/WGSN/IAU-CSN.txt

For a classical textbook on star names see "Star Names - Their Lore and Meaning" by Richard Hinkley Allen, first published in 1899, reprinted by Dover in 1963. ISBN 0-486-21079-0.

2. Aurora & Solar Section - Director Sought

I have decided to relinquish directorship of the Section at the end of this year. I became involved in assisting in administering the Section in 1985 and gradually got more involved over the next few years. After these three decades I'd like to now devote my time to other projects; including hopefully more observational astronomy.

I don't know whether there is anyone out there that is interested in taking over the running of the Section. I hope that there might be. It would no doubt be in a different form. It could even be split into a separate Aurora Section and a Solar Section. The only requirement for it to be a Section of the RASNZ is that the Director needs to be an RASNZ member and that the RASNZ Council approves it being a Section.

My reasons for running the Section have been twofold: to compile a record of the occurrences and descriptions of Aurorae Australis and the Sun, and to encourage their observation. These observations have been detailed in Circulars, starting with auroral observations early in 1979, then by Dennis Goodman who was the Section Director at that time. I am in the process of scanning all these records and uploading them to the RASNZ Website.

I intend publishing two more Newsletters that will summarise observation up to the end of this year, and one more Circular detailing 2016 observations.

I am happy to discuss with anyone interested in continuing this Section in some form or other or they May apply directly to the RASNZ Council via its Secretary.

-- Bob Evans.

3. The Solar System in January

Dates and times shown are NZDT (UT + 13 hours).

Rise and set times are for Wellington. They will vary by a few minutes elsewhere in NZ.

Sunrise, sunset and twilight times in january

                          January  1  NZDT              January 31  NZDT
                  morning  evening              morning  evening
       SUN: rise: 5.48am,  set: 8.59pm     rise: 6.22am,  set: 8.44pm
Twilights
Civil:    starts: 5.18am, ends: 9.31pm   starts: 5.54am, ends: 9.13pm
Nautical: starts: 4.35am, ends:10.14pm   starts: 5.16am, ends: 9.51pm
Astro:    starts: 3.44am, ends:11.04pm   starts: 4.34am, ends:10.33pm

January PHASES OF THE MOON (times as shown by GUIDE)

          First quarter: January  6 at  8.47 am (Jan  5, 19:47 UT)
  Full moon:     January 13 at 12.34 am (Jan 12, 11:34 UT)
  Last quarter   January 20 at 11.13 am (Jan 19, 22:13 UT)
  New moon:      January 28 at  1.07 pm (00:07 UT)

The Earth is at perihelion, its closest to the Sun for the year, on January 4 at 11 pm (NZDT), 10 hours UT. The Earth will then be 0.9833 AU, 147.1 million km, from the centre of the Sun, which will have an apparent angular diameter of 32.53 arc-minute.

The planets in january 2017

Venus remains the obvious bright planet in the evening sky with Mars, much fainter, only a few degrees higher. Mercury will be a morning object visible an hour before sunrise during the second half of the month. Jupiter and Saturn are also morning planets. Jupiter rises just before midnight by the end of January. Saturn will be readily visible to the east by the end of the month.

EVENING PLANETS VENUS will remain brilliant in the evening sky throughout January reaching magnitude -4.7 by the 31st. It will get a little lower in the western sky, setting by 10.30 pm at the end of January. The planet starts January in Aquarius moving on into Pisces on the 23rd.

On the 13th Venus will pass Neptune, magnitude 7.9. At their closest their separation will be 21 arc-minutes, less than the diameter of the full moon. By 10 pm, when the sky should be dark enough to see Neptune in binoculars, the two planets will be 36 arc-minutes apart with Neptune to the left of and slightly higher than Venus

The crescent moon will be a couple of degrees below Venus on January 2.

MARS is a little higher than Venus throughout January, its brightness fading slightly from magnitude 0.9 to 1.1 during the month. It is 12° from Venus on the 1st, the separation decreasing to 5.5° by the 31st. On January 19 Mars will move into Pisces from Aquarius.

Early in January, Mars and Neptune are very close, the separation being only 4.9 arc-minutes on the 1st about 1-6th of the diameter of the full moon. Neptune is then to the lower left of Mars with a magnitude 7.9 so visible in binoculars. There will be no star nearby which could be confused with Neptune.

Mars will move away from Neptune during the following evenings but on the 3rd the two, now 1.5° apart, will be joined by the 25% lit crescent moon. By the time the sky is dark enough to see the planets, the moon will have just moved past them and be about 1° from Mars. A few hours earlier the moon will occult first Neptune and then Mars, events visible from the parts of the north Pacific.

MORNING PLANETS JUPITER is the brightest planet in the morning sky, it will be joined there by Saturn and Mercury during the month. On the 1st Jupiter rises at 1.25 am, almost 2 hours earlier by the 31st, that is shortly before midnight. In Virgo, Jupiter starts the month 4.4° from Spica. Its slowing, easterly movement brings it to just over 3.5° from the star by the end of the month.

On the morning of the 20th, the moon at last quarter, will be just over 5° from Jupiter and 7° from Spica.

SATURN, emerging into the morning sky after its December conjunction, will rise about 80 minutes before the Sun on the 1st and more than three and a half hours earlier than the Sun on the 31st. The planet is in Ophiuchus at magnitude 0.5.

On the morning of the 25th, the crescent moon will be just over 5° below Saturn as seen from New Zealand.

MERCURY also emerges from the Sun into the morning sky following its inferior conjunction at the end of December. At first it will be too close to the Sun to see. The westerly retrograde motion of the planet will move it quite rapidly away from the Sun, so that when stationary on the 9th, it will rise 75 minutes before the Sun. Mercury will also have brightened from magnitude 2.9 to 0.4, so it May be briefly visible very low to the east-south-east before the sky gets too bright to see the planet. It will then be some 6.5° to the lower right of Saturn.

Mercury’s angular distance from the Sun continues to increase for another 10 days until it reaches its greatest elongation on the morning of the 20th. It will then be 24° from the Sun at magnitude -0.2, rising 100 minutes before the Sun and so readily visible, if low, up to an hour or less before sunrise. The planet continues to be briefly visible at this sort of time for the rest of the month.

The moon, as a very thin crescent, will be 5° to the left of Mercury on the morning of the 26th.

OUTER PLANETS URANUS, at magnitude 5.8, remains in Pisces and is observable all evening. It will set after midnight, about 12.30 am by the 31st. The moon, just past first quarter, will be just over 4° to the upper right of Uranus on the 6th.

NEPTUNE is in Aquarius at magnitude 7.9 throughout January. It conjunctions during the month with Mars, on the 1st, and Venus, on the 13th are described in the notes for those planets.

MINOR PLANETS (1) CERES starts the month in Cetus but moves into Pisces on the 8th. The asteroid fades a little during the month from magnitude 8.6 to 9.0. Its distance from Uranus increases from 7.2 to 9.5° during the month. The asteroid sets just after midnight at the end of January.

(4) VESTA starts January in Cancer moving on into Gemini on the 19th. It ends the month about 3.5° above and to the right of Pollux, beta Gem, mag 1.2. Vesta is at opposition on the 18th when its magnitude will be 6.2

(18) MELPOMENE is also in Cetus between 11 and 15 degrees from Ceres. The asteroid continues to fade from magnitude 9.7 to 10.3 during January. Melpomene is on the opposite side of Ceres to Uranus. The asteroid is also a few degrees from comet Harrington-Wilson during January.

(9) METIS and (14) IRENE are both in Leo, about 6° apart. Their magnitudes brighten to 9.5 and 9.4 respectively on the 31st. Metis will then be just over 12° to the right of Regulus, mag 1.4, in a direction towards delta Leo, mag 2.5. Irene will be below Metis. They rise about 10.30 pm.

(15) EUNOMIA also brightens to magnitude 9.5 by the 31st. It will then be in Sextans, 2.5° to the right of alpha Sex, mag 4.5. Eunomia rises just before 9pm.

COMETS. Two reasonably bright comets should be visible in binoculars during January.

P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova (45P) at magnitude 7.7 is 16° to the lower left of Venus on the 1st. The 9% lit crescent moon will be 5.5° to the right and slightly lower than the comet. At 10 pm the comet will have an 8° altitude, the moon being a degree lower. Subsequent evenings the comet will get lower in the evening sky and soon be lost to view.

D/Harrington-Wilson (D/1952 B1) is in Cetus, magnitude 8.9 on the 1st and 8.6 on the 31st. It will be quite close to the asteroid (8) Melpomene, their separation being about 6° on the 1st, 4° mid month and just over 6° by the 31st. On the 23rd the comet is less than a degree below the star Menkar, alpha Cet, mag 2.5.

-- Brian Loader

4. Star Parties in Early 2017

Central Star Party: Thursday 19th – Monday 23rd January. The Central Star Party has been established to hold annual star parties in the central North Island for the benefit of the astronomical community of the North Island of New Zealand. The goal of the organisers is to provide a fun social astronomical gathering laced with talks and activities and star gazing. The second Central Star Party is Thursday 19th to Mon 23rd January 2017 and be held at the Tuki Tuki Camp site in the Hawkes Bay. This is the site of many previous star parties. There is a brand new hall, with two additional meeting rooms for alternate meetings, a new kitchen and three new dormitories. Accommodation is tenting, staying in the dormitories or using one of the six powered caravan sites. For more details go to - http://www.censtar.party/

Stardate NI (North Island): Friday 27th – Sunday 29th January. Richard Hall writes, ‘Stardate 2017 is to be held at Stonehenge Aotearoa on January 27th to 29th 2017. However, participants May arrive earlier or stay later than these dates. In addition to a 3-day program of astronomical lectures, workshops and observing, we have movies, a geology field trip, live music and of course barbecues. This is an attractive site with good swimming holes in the Ruamahanga River just down the road. The wine growing areas of Martinborough, Gladstone and Masterton are within 30 minutes. There is a thriving tourist industry with many activities and venues available within the same distance’. For further information phone (06) 377 1600 or visit www.astronomynz.org

Stardate SI (South Island): Friday 17th – Monday 20th February. Stardate SI will be held at a "Christian" hostel and camp at Staveley between Friday February Friday 17th to Monday 20th February 2017. Organiser Euan Mason writes, ‘There's nothing particularly religious about Stardate, although Phil Barker reports a religious experience when he views the cosmos through his twin brother Kevin's 5" Zeiss refractor. Come and join us for this magnificent celebration of astronomy, science, and the cosmos at large’. For more details see - http://www.treesandstars.com/stardate/

-- From 'Keeping in Touch' #19. 23 October 2016

5. 2017 Conference - Call for Papers

It is a pleasure to announce that the next conference of the Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand (RASNZ) will be held in Dunedin over the weekend of 12th -14th May 2017. Our guest speaker will be Professor Joss Bland-Hawthorn from the University of Sydney, and the Fellows’ Lecture for 2017 will be delivered by Jennie McCormick. Titles and abstracts for these talks will be released when they are available.

The RASNZ standing conference committee (SCC) invites and encourages anyone interested in New Zealand Astronomy to submit oral or poster papers, with titles and abstracts due by 1st April 2017 or at such time as the SCC deems the conference programme to be full. The link to the paper submission form can be found on the RASNZ Conference website www.rasnz.org.nz/Conference. Please note that you must be registered for the conference to give an oral presentation and for your convenience a link has been provided if you wish to do this when you register.

Following the conference, the 11th Trans-Tasman Symposium on Occultations (TTSO11) will be held at the conference venue on Monday/Tuesday 15th - 16th May. Details of the registration for TTSO11 will be available with the registration form for the conference, and paper submissions should be sent directly to the convenor Murray Forbes (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). Note that this workshop will only be held if there is sufficient interest, so please register as soon as you can. We look forward to receiving your submissions and seeing you at the conference. Please feel free to forward this message to anyone who May find it of interest.

For further information on the RASNZ conference, registration details and associated events please visit the conference website at www.rasnz.org.nz/Conference

-- Warwick Kissling, RASNZ Standing Conference Committee.

6. Variable Star News - R Aurigae

Featured in the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) December 2016 monthly Newsletter was the variable star R Aurigae which undergoes a large fluctuation in magnitude (visual 6.7 to 13.9). This star is a long period variable (average period 457.5 days) of the Mira type and one that exhibits a hump on the rising curve. The article describes some of the different behaviour this star has exhibited over the course of the 150 years that the star has been observed.

The note presents some research published by Marsakova and Andronov (Astrophysics 50, No 1, 2007) on variables that display this behaviour. For many of these stars the hump does not appear on every cycle. In the case of R Aur it was on average about every second cycle – in fact 45 out of the 100 cycles analysed. There is a suggestion that there is a correlation between the asymmetry of the light curve and some hump parameters. In the case of R Aur the correlation was quite strong between the asymmetry of the light curve and the phase and duration of the hump.

Some of the explanations that have been given for the hump behaviour are: movement of a shock wave in the stellar atmosphere, resonance between fundamental and overtone periods, or interactions in a circumstellar dust cloud. This is still the subject of debate.

The period of the light curve of R Aur has changed over the years, which is also typical behaviour of the longer period Mira stars. However in this case there does not seem to be a systematic change, rather the period “meanders” between 450 and 465 days. This a good reason to maintain continuous observations of this type of star.

R Aur is a northern hemisphere star so not for observing from here. However the article demonstrates the questions which this type of star elicits. There are some southern hemisphere stars that exhibit similar behaviour e.g. BH Crucis and R Normae.

For more information on stars exhibiting “humps’ and dual maxima go to the document prepared by Frank Shorr on the Long Period Variable (LPV) pages. Also if the Monthly Newsletter is no longer posted on the AAVSO web-site you can find the LPV monthly articles with title “LPV of the month” under the LPV Observing Section. Go to the menu at the top (or the bottom) of the AAVSO Home page, locate “Observing”\subheading “Observing Sections” and locate Long Period Variables. There is a menu on the RH side of the page for LPV of the month.

-- Alan Baldwin

7. Science Can Inform Better Lighting Decisions

Lighting Dunedin smartly will benefit everyone, writes Kyra Xavia. Dunedin has an opportunity to become the first Night Sky City in the southern hemisphere, but the success of this visionary endeavour hinges upon one important factor: night sky-friendly streetlights. Unfortunately, there’s confusion about what’s involved.

Lighting is a complex issue. White LEDs are being heavily promoted for their energy efficiency, they have other costs, which outweigh energy, maintenance and operational savings. The implications are serious because LED technology is rapidly being installed around the world.

White LEDs have broader, long-term losses (caused by the disruptive blue and green wavelengths of light they emit), which include harming the health of human residents, endangering wildlife, and degrading what remains of our night sky, an as yet, untapped asset of immense worth to tourism and our community.

While there’s plenty of scientific evidence about the risks of blue- rich light at night, much public outcry against white LEDs (too bright, harsh, and clinical) and a resulting shift towards warmer light, decision-makers are not yet paying enough attention to, or even aware of a critical factor called scotopic/phototopic (S/P) ratio.

This figure measures how much light emitted from a light fixture is useful to the human eye, and most importantly, for a Night Sky City, how much light pollution is generated. For environmental and ecological impact, the S/P ratio, just like the colour spectrum is crucial — unlike the correlated colour temperature (CCT) of an LED, which only indicates the perceived visual warmth or coolness of light in Kelvin (K).

While both the American Medical Association and the International Dark Skies Association acknowledge the risks of exposure to blue-rich light, neither has yet stated that all white LEDs are problematic. In fact, both still recommend a maximum of 3000K, further confusing municipalities that wish to attain dark sky status.

The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA), which sets guidelines for road lighting and design, and co-funds the changeover, has also not yet acknowledged the full range of risks. Nor has Auckland Transport, which has bulk purchasing power and is currently rolling out white LEDs.

As Dunedin city councillors have committed to the Urban Design Protocol, which covers custodianship of the environment and people under its care, they have a responsibility to illuminate Dunedin safely and well. To honour this commitment, new streetlights must not exceed the level of blue and green wavelengths of current streetlights, and they must also have a similar or improved S/P ratio of 0.4 to 0.6.

Sadly, warm white LEDs (2700-3000K) breach both — even when shielded and at the same lumen output as the lights they replace. In fact, with an S/P ratio of 1.3, these LEDs will worsen existing light pollution, doubling what we have now and impacting on areas up to 100km away. We know artificial light at night (ALAN) has negative consequences on wildlife as it impairs biological processes required for health in every species with a dark/light cycle, disrupting too, communication habits, foraging, mating and orientation.

Exposure to blue-rich light also suppresses the production of melatonin (a powerful antioxidant with protective immune, anti-inflammatory, and tumour suppressing activity). For humans, this means an increased risk of Alzheimer’s, cancer, diabetes, depression, obesity and other diseases.

Although people can reduce their exposure to blue-rich light in their own homes, it’s impossible to do so outdoors with white LED street lights. Nor can wildlife and ecosystems escape.

Blue wavelengths of light also scatter in the eye to create a "veiling" effect, resulting in visual discomfort, dangerous disability glare, and noticeably more contrast, which further diminishes night-time vision. (White blue-rich light is perceived as being 3-5 times more glary than orange light — as seen with the blinding headlights on modern cars.) For young people, mature drivers (a large percentage of the population), and those with impaired vision, white LEDs pose an even greater risk. Claims that white blue-rich LEDs improve traffic/pedestrian safety and reduce criminal activity remain unfounded and some recent research contradicts this assumption.

Not only that, the intense light from white LEDs causes the pupil to contract, so while the sky appears darker, the human eye is unable to detect all but the brightest stars. All of which makes white LEDs unsuitable for a Night Sky City. Orange street lighting has been safely used for more than 60 years, and its colour rendition has not been an issue (until the lighting industry’s strong push for white LEDs).

Dunedin can be an enviable star sanctuary by shielding existing lights — and when safer, energy efficient Amber LEDs become more affordable, and once the NZTA (which co-funds street lighting) recognises their worth and updates its guidelines, an intelligent and responsible changeover can be made. As the retrofit will affect the city for decades, lighting Dunedin smartly will benefit everyone.

To learn more, visit www.change.org/p/light-dunedin-smartly.

-- Kyra Xavia is a freelance journalist who has written this piece on behalf of the Dunedin Dark Skies Group. See the original at https://www.odt.co.nz/opinion/science-can-inform-better-lighting-decisions

8. John Glenn

John Glenn, a military vet turned space pioneer, has died at the age of 95.

After flying 59 combat missions in World War II, Glenn became an early recruit into NASA's Mercury program. In 1962, he became the first American astronaut to orbit the Earth. Years later, in 1998, he became the oldest person to fly in space when he joined the STS-95 crew aboard Discovery.

After leaving NASA in 1964, Glenn rejoined the military before being sidelined by an injury in 1965. He then went into the private sector before re-emerging for a 1970 run for the Senate in Ohio. Though he lost the primary, he won a seat in 1974, elected as a Democrat. For a brief period in 1983 and 1984, Glenn was also a presidential candidate but failed to secure any states in the primary contests. He withdrew in March of 1984, remaining in the Senate until 1999.

In recent days, Glenn had been admitted to Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. His family, including his wife Annie, were by his side when he passed away. Glenn was the last of the Mercury 7 to pass away.

-- By John Wenz of Astronomy magazine, on December 8, forwarded by Roland Idaczyk. See the original at http://www.astronomy.com/news/2016/12/john-glenn-death

9. Icy Ceres

New results from NASA's Dawn orbiter show that Ceres, the largest asteroid, must possess a global layer of water ice that lies just below its dark, dusty surface.

Even before NASA's Dawn spacecraft reached asteroid 1 Ceres in March 2015, planetary scientists knew that this sizable world was not the dry-as-dust object that comes to mind when we imagine what asteroids should be like. For starters, it has a density (2.1 g/cm^3) far too low for a solid ball of silicate rock. Infrared spectra taken as long ago as 1978 revealed the presence of water-infused clay minerals on its surface, and scans by ESA's Herschel space observatory a few years ago even caught Ceres exhaling clouds of water vapour.

But one surprise from Dawn is that, apart from a smattering of bright spots here and there inside craters, there's not a lot of ice actually exposed on the surface. Whatever ice Ceres has must lie deeper down. Now, it turns out, "deeper down" is probably no more than one or two meters, and that water ice must be everywhere. As detailed in this week's Science, the broken-up rubble on Ceres' surface contains high concentrations of hydrogen — and, cosmochemically speaking, water ice is the only likely compound to account for all that hydrogen. In fact the near-surface rocks contain up to 10% water by mass, and this global ice layer likely extends to great depth.

When a high-energy cosmic ray slams into an atom in Ceres’ surface, the target nucleus “explodes,” producing a spray of secondary particles, including neutrons. These particles can collide with other atoms in the regolith, creating gamma rays that escape with other neutrons from the dwarf planet and reach Dawn in orbit.

Dawn's Gamma Ray and Neutron Detector (GRAND) slowly built up maps of neutrons and gamma rays escaping from Ceres as the spacecraft orbited. Importantly, GRAND only detects neutrons and gamma rays within about 1 meter of the surface.

The resulting maps show that the near-surface hydrogen is roughly 100 times more abundant than was found on 4 Vesta, Dawn's previous host, which is largely covered with basaltic rock. On Ceres, the hydrogen signature is very uniform and increases dramatically toward the poles. The team interprets this gradation as a shift from minerals that reacted with (and incorporated) liquid water near the equator to near- surface water ice beginning at latitudes poleward of about 40°. There water ice is probably filling the gaps between fine particles of dust.

This water didn't come from impacting comets but rather must have been present when Ceres formed. Early in solar-system history, this body likely was at least warm, if not hot, due to the kinetic energy of near-constant bombardment and the decay of radioactive elements in its rocky matter, so the interior of Ceres separated into a rocky core surrounded by a less-dense exterior.

It's not clear how far this differentiation progressed. But it's no great leap to imagine that Ceres once had a global ocean (or at least an outer layer of briny mud). Over time, sunlight warmed the equatorial regions enough to drive out the near-surface water and concentrate it at the poles.

Yet exposures of water ice aren't common on the surface. The bright spots in the big crater Occator are likely salt deposits. Dawn's spectra suggest that water exists on the floor of a crater called Oxo and within some (but not all) of hundreds of polar craters that are persistently shadowed. These "cold traps," accumulate water vapour over time that's been driven from Sun-warmed surfaces elsewhere.

So why isn't Ceres icy white all over instead of the very dark surface (only 9% reflective) seen today? Ceres likely came together with a large helping of the kind of carbon-rich rock found in primitive, carbonaceous chondrite meteorites. Every time something blasts into Ceres, it creates a plume of ejected debris that spreads outward and over the surface. It's a mix of carbon-infused dust and water. Some of the water plops back onto the surface and eventually migrates toward the poles. But water vapour is vulnerable — ultraviolet sunlight readily breaks it down into hydrogen and oxygen — and so over time what settles back onto the surface becomes ever more desiccated.

Ceres orbits further from the Sun than Vesta. Ceres's average distance (a) is 2.77 AU (370 million km). Vesta's average distance is 2.36 AU (354 million km). So Vesta gets about 1.4 times more sunshine than Ceres.

-- Mostly abridged from an article by Kelly Beatty on Sky & Telescope's webpage. See the original with pictures and diagrams at http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/ice-is-everywhere-on-ceres/

10. How to Join the RASNZ

RASNZ membership is open to all individuals with an interest in astronomy in New Zealand. Information about the society and its objects can be found at http://rasnz.org.nz/rasnz/membership-benefits A membership form can be either obtained from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by completing the online application form found at http://rasnz.org.nz/rasnz/membership-application Basic membership for the 2016 year starts at $40 for an ordinary member, which includes an electronic subscription to our journal 'Southern Stars'.

11. Gifford-Eiby Lecture Fund

The RASNZ administers the Gifford-Eiby Memorial Lectureship Fund to assist Affiliated Societies with travel costs of getting a lecturer or instructor to their meetings. Details are in RASNZ By-Laws Section H.

For an application form contact the Executive Secretary This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Nichola van der Aa, 32A Louvain Street, Whakatane 3120.

12. Kingdon-Tomlinson Fund

The RASNZ is responsible for recommending to the trustees of the Kingdon Tomlinson Fund that grants be made for astronomical projects. The grants May be to any person or persons, or organisations, requiring funding for any projects or ventures that promote the progress of astronomy in New Zealand. Applications are now invited for grants from the Kingdon-Tomlinson Fund. The application should reach the Secretary by 1 May 2016. There will be a secondary round of applications later in the year. Full details are set down in the RASNZ By-Laws, Section J.

For an application form contact the RASNZ Executive Secretary, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Nichola van der Aa, 32A Louvain Street, Whakatane 3120.

13. Quotes

National Geographic headline: “2016 Will Be One Second Longer Than Expected". Tweet in response: "Have we not suffered enough.” -- https://www.buzzfeed.com/robinedds/100-tweets-that-made-british-people-piss-themselves-in-2016

“As to the seven deadly sins I deplore Pride, Wrath, Lust, Envy and Greed. Gluttony and Sloth I pretty much plan my day around.” – Robert Brault.

“The wages of sin are death, but by the time taxes are taken out, it's just a sort of tired feeling.” -- Paula Poundstone.

“I'm dreaming of a White Christmas... and when all the White is gone, I will drink all the Red.” -- Thanks to Peter & Janet.

Newsletter editor:

Alan Gilmore Phone: 03 680 6817
P.O. Box 57 Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Lake Tekapo 7945
New Zealand

December 2016

Log in or become an RASNZ member to access this Southern Stars issue.

A 6” Nankivell Refractor
Peter Knowles
Volume 55, number 4. December 2016. p3

 

The Multiple Periods of L 2 Puppis
Stan Walker, Neil Butterworth, Terry Bohlsen, Giorgio di Scala, Peter Williams
Volume 55, number 4. December 2016. p5

 

Norman Dickie 100 Years October 2nd 2016
Ashley Pennell
Volume 55, number 4. December 2016. p10

 

Early Meteor Radar Astronomy at Jodrell Bank and Canterbury
Grahame Fraser
Volume 55, number 4. December 2016. p11

 

Concerning Heritage Telescopes
William Tobin
Volume 55, number 4. December 2016. p21

 


RASNZ Electronic Newsletter November 2016

The RASNZ Email newsletter is distributed by email on or near the 20th of each month. If you would like to be on the circulation list This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for a copy. The latest issue is below.

Email Newsletter Number 191

Affiliated Societies are welcome to reproduce any item in this email newsletter or on the RASNZ website http://www.rasnz.org.nz/ in their own newsletters provided an acknowledgement of the source is also included.

Contents

1. Clive Rowe ONZM (1934-2016)
2. Foxton Beach Astrophotography Weekend 25-27 November
3. Aurora & Solar Section - Director Sought
4. The Solar System in December
5. Star Parties in Early 2017
6. 2017 Conference - Call for Papers
7. Variable Star Notes
8. GLEAM Radio Sky Survey Published
9. NZ's Oldest Telescope
10. Planet Nine Tilting the Solar System?
11. How to Join the RASNZ
12. Gifford-Eiby Lecture Fund
13. Quotes

1. Clive Rowe ONZM (1934-2016)

Last Tuesday Ashley Marles advised the nzastronomers Yahoo group that Clive Rowe had died. Ashley included with the note several photos of Clive from the Canterbury Astronomical Society's archive. Presumably an illustrated obituary for Clive will appear in Southern Stars. Below are memories from the Editor, Bob Evans and Rod Austin in roughly chronological order.

Alan Gilmore recalls:

I met Clive in March 1960 at the first RASNZ monthly meeting I attended. (The RASNZ used to have monthly meetings in Wellington before the Wellington Astronomical Society was formed.) Clive was boarding with an aunt and uncle in Lower Hutt while working at (I think) the DSIR's Physics & Engineering Lab. He later moved to Philips EDAC (Electronic Development and Application?) in Wellington. He was already experimenting with photomultiplier tubes. I recall us watching a current fluctuation as Sirius crossed the field of a photomultiplier in Clive's telescope. Clive introduced me to Sky & Telescope magazine.

Clive had many adventures applying electronics for EDAC. One he ruefully reported was having to dig holes in the shingle under the newly-opened Haast bridge to attach strain gauges to piers; part of a Ministry of Works research project.

Clive, along with Tom Richards, Steward Mawson, one or two others and me, were selected by the RASNZ to help Charles Michie operate a camera at the Matauri Bay total solar eclipse in May 1965. We were kindly billeted by local farm friends of Mr Michie's. As well as helping take photos with Mr Michie's big camera, Clive got pictures with his 35mm camera. I have a hilarious memory of a sleeping bag rolling around on the ground with Clive's legs sticking out the open end and swearing coming from the closed end as he tried to load the film into a developing tank. Gordon Hudson showed a NZ National Film Unit item on the eclipse at a RASNZ Conference some years back. The RASNZ team appeared there. Val Federoff, another RASNZ member, was on the Film Unit's staff.

It was at a gathering at Clive's place in Lower Hutt after the eclipse that he showed us the first integrated circuit we had seen. The little plastic lozenge contained an amazing eight transistors! Clive immediately saw how such devices could be employed with photomultipliers for photometry. He developed a current-to-frequency converter that was a world first, I understand. Certainly he was invited to the US to show it to people at Kitt Peak and other observatories. He got to drive Helmut Abt's Mustang in Tucson, if I recall correctly.

Clive was involved with many astronomy projects around Wellington in his time there. He gave the old Wellington College Observatory a photometer. Alan Baldwin was a pupil there at the time and recalls: "My most vivid memory of Clive's activity at Gifford Observatory (1961?) was this grey box arriving packed with large glowing valves - very impressive but in reality we had little idea what was being achieved." Clive also helped Taita College get its observatory going.

It was Clive's photoelectric gear that got photometry going at West Melton and at Auckland Observatory. Bob Evans and Rod Austin recount this below.

Clive moved to Christchurch in the late 1960s to work at Canterbury University as an electronics technician. One of his jobs was helping an Electrical and Electronic Engineering academic make ultra-sound 'radar' devices to assist blind people. He later moved to Philips as a salesman of electronic equipment.

In Christchurch Clive was a keen member of the Canterbury Astronomical Society much involved with the development of the observatory complex at West Melton. Clive was also involved with South Island Stardates. The first was held inland somewhere near Castle Hill, from my memories of others' reports. Subsequent SI Stardates were at Staveley where Clive sometimes arrived in his microlite plane, landing in a nearby paddock. He had some hairy adventures in Canterbury nor'westers in that plane.

Later Clive returned to Canterbury University where, among much else, he was involved with setting up the ring laser in the Cashmere Cavern. Sadly it was a victim of the Christchurch earthquakes.

After retirement Clive moved to Waddington, on the West Coast Road. There he set up an ex-Canterbury University aluminizing plant. He re-aluminized some 90 mirrors before moving to Nelson. Unable to find a local home the aluminizing plant was moved to Australia. Just three weeks ago Clive told Gordon Hudson that he and Peter Knowles had built a prototype aluminizing plant to take 12-inch mirrors. They were looking at scaling it up to 24 inches.

An all-round nice and helpful bloke who will be sadly missed. ----

Bob Evans recalls: I first met Clive in Lower Hutt when I and Frank Andrews visited Wellington to discuss plans with the RASNZ for the Joyce Observatory at West Melton (around about 1963 I think). Clive and I, just as others have found, immediately 'hit it off'. As has already been said, Clive's later involvement with the observatory at West Melton was seminal for NZ Astronomy.

In January 1969 Stefan Mochnacki and I were driving to Auckland for a visit, and when Clive learned of this he asked us to take his photometer with us for the Auckland crowd to try out on their telescope at the Auckland Observatory. They had it for a week and Auckland photometry has never looked back. This is just one example of Clive's legacy. ----

Rod Austin adds: I heard the news from Bill Allen last night we have lost one of the most important members of our community. I first met Clive in 1969 when I got involved with the CAS photometer project. Clive was my mentor right through my time at Mt John too. A true friend and enthusiast who had the knack of being able to explain physical and astronomical phenomena by the simplest ways to give a full understanding of the processes involved. There seemed to be nothing he couldn't do. A real gentleman and awesome friend. We are going to truly miss him. ----

Raewyn Newnham advises that two services will be held, the first one will be Clive's funeral and will be held in Nelson: Monday 21st November at 1:30 pm, St Barnabas Anglican Church, 523 Main Road, Stoke, Nelson, followed by a tea/coffee in the reception area.

The second one is a Memorial Service and will be in Christchurch: Saturday 26th November at 1:30 pm, St Ninians Presbyterian Church, 5 Puriri Street, Riccarton, Christchurch, followed by a tea/coffee in the rear lounge.

Messages to Marilyn Rowe, 27 Somerset Tce, Stoke, Nelson; email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; Phone 03 553 0442.

2. Foxton Beach Astrophotography Weekend 25-27 November

The Horowhenua Astronomical Society is hosting the fourth New Zealand Astrophotography Weekend at the Foxton Beach Bible Camp. This is an annual event dedicated to astrophotography in a wonderful dark-sky location. It is open to everyone interested in astrophotography - from beginners to advanced. Come along and share your knowledge, tips and experiences. All sorts of astrophotography can be undertaken - solar- system/nightscapes/deep-sky.

The weekend will consist of: practical astrophotography, image processing, presentations, bring-and-buy. Everyone is encouraged to bring along their own telescopes, binoculars, mounts, cameras, etc, however basic they might be. There are plenty of safe areas for people to set up their equipment and leave it in situ for the whole weekend.

Due to high demand numbers will be restricted so please book early to avoid disappointment.

For registration, accommodation options, etc, see http://www.horoastronomy.org.nz/upcoming-events/astrophotography-weekend

-- From the above website.

3. Aurora & Solar Section - Director Sought

I have decided to relinquish directorship of the Section at the end of this year. I became involved in assisting in administering the Section in 1985 and gradually got more involved over the next few years. After these three decades I'd like to now devote my time to other projects; including hopefully more observational astronomy.

I don't know whether there is anyone out there that is interested in taking over the running of the Section. I hope that there might be. It would no doubt be in a different form. It could even be split into a separate Aurora Section and a Solar Section. The only requirement for it to be a Section of the RASNZ is that the Director needs to be an RASNZ member and that the RASNZ Council approves it being a Section.

My reasons for running the Section has been twofold: to compile a record of the occurrences and descriptions of Aurorae Australis and the Sun, and to encourage their observation. These observations have been detailed in Circulars, starting with auroral observations early in 1979, then by Dennis Goodman who was the Section Director at that time. I am in the process of scanning all these records and uploading them to the RASNZ Website.

I intend publishing two more Newsletters that will summarise observation up to the end of this year, and one more Circular detailing 2016 observations.

I am happy to discuss with anyone interested in continuing this Section in some form or other or they May apply directly to the RASNZ Council via its Secretary.

-- Bob Evans.

4. The Solar System in December

Dates and times shown are NZDT (UT + 13 hours).

Rise and set times are for Wellington. They will vary by a few minutes elsewhere in NZ.

Sunrise, sunset and twilight times in december

                          December  1  NZDT             December 31 NZDT
                  morning  evening              morning  evening
       SUN: rise: 5.39am,  set: 8.40pm     rise: 5.47am,  set: 8.59pm
Twilights
Civil:    starts: 5.10am, ends: 9.11pm   starts: 5.17am, ends: 9.31pm
Nautical: starts: 4.28am, ends: 9.52pm   starts: 4.34am, ends:10.14pm
Astro:    starts: 3.40am  ends:10.41pm   starts: 3.43am, ends:11.05pm

December PHASES OF THE MOON (times as shown by GUIDE)

          First quarter: December  7 at 10.03 pm (09:03 UT)
  Full moon:     December 14 at  1.06 pm (00:06 UT)
  Last quarter   December 21 at  2.56 pm (01:56 UT)
  New moon:      December 29 at  7.53 pm (06:53 UT)

The SOUTHERN SUMMER SOLSTICE is on 2016 December 21 at 11.45 pm NZDT (10:45 UT)

The planets in December

Venus remains the most obvious planet in the evening sky. Mars, much fainter, is higher in the sky. Mercury May be briefly visible low in the evening sky about an hour after sunset. It will disappear after about mid month. Jupiter is the only planet visible in the morning sky. Saturn is not likely to be seen during December.

MERCURY starts December as an evening object with a magnitude -0.5. On the 1st it will set nearly 100 minutes after the Sun. An hour after sunset, shortly before the end of nautical twilight, the planet will be 5° up in a direction 30° to the south of west. Venus will be some 25° away to its upper right.

Throughout the first half of December Mercury will continue to set up to 100 minutes after the Sun. It reaches its greatest elongation, 21° east of the Sun, on the 11th. After mid December the distance of Mercury from the Sun starts decreasing, so it sets earlier. As a result it will be lost in the evening twilight within a few days. The planet is at inferior conjunction between the Earth and Sun on December 29, when it will be 101 million km, 0.675AU, from the Earth and 0.311AU from the Sun.

VENUS will remain a brilliant light in the evening sky throughout December reaching magnitude -4.4. It sets shortly before midnight throughout the month. The planet starts December in Sagittarius but, moving to the east, crosses into Capricornus on the 7th. By the 31st Venus will have moved crossed to the eastern edge of the constellation.

The crescent moon will be 6.5° from Venus on the evening of December 3.

MARS starts December in Capricornus at magnitude 0.6. With a distinctly orange colour it will be some 25° to the upper right of Venus. On December 3 Mars passes close to the star iota cap (mag 4.3). They will be closest about 9.30 pm, some 50 minutes after sunset in Wellington, when only 40 arc-seconds apart. about 1% of the moon's diameter. At this distance they will be almost impossible to separate by eye, but fairly easy to do so using binoculars. By midnight Mars will have moved to be just over 4 arc-minutes from the star

Two days later the crescent moon will be 3.5° from Mars.

In mid December Mars moves into Aquarius. It movement across the constellation will be slower than Venus's in Capricornus, as a result the two will be only 12° apart on the 31st. On that evening Mars will have almost caught up Neptune, their separation being some 40 arc- minutes.

JUPITER remains the only one of the naked eye in the December morning sky. On the 1st it rises at 3.15 am, advancing to about 1.30 am by the 31st. The planet is in Virgo, its distance from Spica decreasing from 8 to 4.5° during the month.

On the morning of the 23rd, the moon a day past third quarter, will be just over 3° from Jupiter.

SATURN is at conjunction with the Sun on December 10 so will not be observable during December. At conjunction Saturn will be 1650 million km, 11 au, from the Earth, 10 AU beyond the Sun. By the end of the month it will rise in the morning sky about 75 minutes before the Sun.

Outer Planets

URANUS, at magnitude 5.7, remains in Pisces and is observable all evening. It sets close to 3.30 am on the 1st and two hours earlier on the 31st. The planet is stationary on the 30th. As a result its position changes very little during December, by a distance equivalent to only two-thirds of the diameter of the full moon.

NEPTUNE is in Aquarius at magnitude 7.9 throughout December. It sets about 2 am on the 1st, and midnight at the end of December. The moon is closest to Neptune on the 6th but still 6° at midnight. A few hours later the moon will occult the planet as seen from the northern Atlantic region including northeast Canada and much of Greenland. Mars will close in on Neptune during December.

PLUTO at magnitude 14.5 is very low in the early evening sky. It is in Sagittarius setting only 20 minutes after the Sun by the end of December.

Minor Planets

(1) CERES continues in Cetus during December with its magnitude fading from 8.2 to 8.6. It is stationary mid month resulting in most of its apparent motion being to the north so ending the month some 7° from Uranus.

(18) MELPOMENE is also in Cetus between 9 and 11 degrees from Ceres. The asteroid, diameter 148 km, fades from magnitude 8.9 to 9.6 during December. Melpomene is on the opposite side of Ceres to Uranus.

Both Ceres and Melpomene are visible all evening not setting until well after midnight.

(4) VESTA is in Cancer throughout December rising about 12.15 am on the 1st and two hours earlier on the 31st. Its magnitude brightens from 7.4 to 6.7 during the month. Vesta starts December 2° from the Beehive cluster, M44. Its westerly retrograde motion sees the asteroid move away from the cluster so that by the 31st they will be 5 degrees apart.

-- Brian Loader

5. Star Parties in Early 2017

Central Star Party: Thursday 19th - Monday 23rd January. The Central Star Party has been established to hold annual star parties in the central North Island for the benefit of the astronomical community of the North Island of New Zealand. The goal of the organisers is to provide a fun social astronomical gathering laced with talks and activities and star gazing. The second Central Star Party is Thursday 19th to Mon 23rd January 2017 and be held at the Tuki Tuki Camp site in the Hawkes Bay. This is the site of many previous star parties. There is a brand new hall, with two additional meeting rooms for alternate meetings, a new kitchen and three new dormitories. Accommodation is tenting, staying in the dormitories or using one of the six powered caravan sites. For more details go to - http://www.censtar.party/

Stardate NI (North Island): Friday 27th - Sunday 29th January. Richard Hall writes, `Stardate 2017 is to be held at Stonehenge Aotearoa on January 27th to 29th 2017. However, participants May arrive earlier or stay later than these dates. In addition to a 3-day program of astronomical lectures, workshops and observing, we have movies, a geology field trip, live music and of course barbecues. This is an attractive site with good swimming holes in the Ruamahanga River just down the road. The wine growing areas of Martinborough, Gladstone and Masterton are within 30 minutes. There is a thriving tourist industry with many activities and venues available within the same distance´. For further information phone (06) 377 1600 or visit www.astronomynz.org

Stardate SI (South Island): Friday 17th - Monday 20th February. Stardate SI will be held at a "Christian" hostel and camp at Staveley between Friday February Friday 17th to Monday 20th February 2017. Organiser Euan Mason writes, `There's nothing particularly religious about Stardate, although Phil Barker reports a religious experience when he views the cosmos through his twin brother Kevin's 5" Zeiss refractor. Come and join us for this magnificent celebration of astronomy, science, and the cosmos at large´. For more details see - http://www.treesandstars.com/stardate/

-- From 'Keeping in Touch' #19. 23 October 2016

6. 2017 Conference - Call for Papers

It is a pleasure to announce that the next conference of the Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand (RASNZ) will be held in Dunedin over the weekend of 12th -14th May 2017. Our guest speaker will be Professor Joss Bland-Hawthorn from the University of Sydney, and the Fellows´ Lecture for 2017 will be delivered by Jennie McCormick. Titles and abstracts for these talks will be released when they are available.

The RASNZ standing conference committee (SCC) invites and encourages anyone interested in New Zealand Astronomy to submit oral or poster papers, with titles and abstracts due by 1st April 2017 or at such time as the SCC deems the conference programme to be full. The link to the paper submission form can be found on the RASNZ Conference website www.rasnz.org.nz/Conference. Please note that you must be registered for the conference to give an oral presentation and for your convenience a link has been provided if you wish to do this when you register.

Following the conference, the 11th Trans-Tasman Symposium on Occultations (TTSO11) will be held at the conference venue on Monday/Tuesday 15th - 16th May. Details of the registration for TTSO11 will be available with the registration form for the conference, and paper submissions should be sent directly to the convenor Murray Forbes (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). Note that this workshop will only be held if there is sufficient interest, so please register as soon as you can. We look forward to receiving your submissions and seeing you at the conference. Please feel free to forward this message to anyone who May find it of interest.

For further information on the RASNZ conference, registration details and associated events please visit the conference website at www.rasnz.org.nz/Conference

-- Warwick Kissling, RASNZ Standing Conference Committee.

7. Variable Star News - TT Cen, Nova Sgr

TT Cen

The November 2016 Newsletter of AAVSO features the variable TT Cen. This star is a Mira type variable which is listed in the GCVS as having a period of 462 days with a magnitude range of 11.5 to fainter than 16.5. Its discovery was reported by Shapley and Swope in 1940 and it was noted as having a "dual maximum" around mag 13.

The observations in the AAVSO database date from the 1970s; despite the short history there have been significant changes in the light curve. The brightness at maximum up until about 2005 was much brighter than the GCVS value (mag 8.5 as opposed to 11.5). However, at this point the maximum brightness started to decrease quite rapidly to around the original GCVS value of mag 11.5 by 2012. Since 2012 the maximum has started to brighten somewhat.

An analysis of the period over the last 18,000 days shows a regular and relatively smooth variation from approximately 467 days decreasing to 447 days by 1992 and back up to 460 days by 2009. This is not uncommon in very long period (>400 days) Mira which can show evidence of "meandering" periods.

TT Cen has also undergone some remarkable spectral changes as recorded by Stephenson (1973), who summarized evidence that it May have recently changed from showing dominantly S-type to dominantly C-type characteristics. If this is the case, then it is probably the result of dredge-up following a recent helium shell flash.

For further information on this star refer to the original AAVSO article, and an article by S Walker et al in the RASNZ Variable Stars South Newsletter, April 2016 on the VSS web-site which documents BVRI observations through a cycle.

-- Alan Baldwin ----------

Nova in Sagittarius

A nova in Sagittarius reached magnitude 5.5 on November 8 and is now in decline. It was magnitude 7.5 on November 18. The nova was discovered at V magnitude 13.7 on October 25 by the ASASSN group who designated it ASASSN-16ma. The IAU Central Bureau has given it the temporary designation = PNV J18205200-2822100 based on the objects coordinates of (2000) R.A. 18 20 52.25 Dec. -28 22 12.1. With Sagittarius sinking in the western twilight the nova won't be accessible much longer.

-- From notes supplied by Alan Baldwin

8. GLEAM Radio Sky Survey Published

Victoria University of Wellington astrophysicists are part of an international team that has released one of the widest-ever radio wave surveys of the Universe and the first to reveal it in such technicolour detail.

Victoria Associate Professor of Physics Melanie Johnston-Hollitt and postdoctoral fellows Dr Cathie Zheng and Dr Luke Hindson were the New Zealand arm of a 19-strong multi-country team that designed and executed the survey and processed the data.

Published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society on October 27, the GaLactic and Extragalactic All-sky MWA, or GLEAM, survey has produced a catalogue of 300,000 galaxies observed at frequencies from 70 to 230 MHz by the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA), a $50 million radio telescope located at a remote site in the West Australian outback.

Lead author Dr Natasha Hurley-Walker, from Curtin University and the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), said this is the first radio survey to image the sky in such amazing technicolour. "The human eye sees by comparing brightness in three different primary colours - red, green and blue," Dr Hurley-Walker said. "GLEAM does rather better than that, viewing the sky in 20 primary colours. "That´s much better than we humans can manage, and it even beats the very best in the animal kingdom, the mantis shrimp, which can see 12 different primary colours," she said.

GLEAM is a large-scale, high-resolution survey of the radio sky observed at frequencies from 70 to 230 MHz, observing radio waves that have been travelling through space - some for billions of years. "Our team are using this survey to find out what happens when clusters of galaxies collide," Dr Hurley-Walker said.

"We´re also able to see the remnants of explosions from the most ancient stars in our galaxy, and find the first and last gasps of supermassive black holes."

MWA Director Associate Professor Randall Wayth, from Curtin University and ICRAR, said GLEAM is one of the biggest radio surveys of the sky ever assembled. "The area surveyed is enormous," he said. "Large sky surveys like this are extremely valuable to scientists and they´re used across many areas of astrophysics, often in ways the original researchers could never have imagined," Associate Professor Wayth said.

Completing the GLEAM survey with the MWA is a big step on the path to SKA-low, the low frequency part of the international Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope to be built in Australia in the coming years.

"It´s a significant achievement for the MWA telescope and the team of researchers that have worked on the GLEAM survey," Associate Professor Wayth said. "The survey gives us a glimpse of the Universe that SKA-low will be probing once it´s built. By mapping the sky in this way we can help fine-tune the design for the SKA and prepare for even deeper observations into the distant Universe."

View more at http://www.icrar.org/gleam/

-- From the Royal Society of New Zealand Alert newsletter 932, 27 October, and from the above website.

9. NZ's Oldest Telescope

Otago Museum has discovered that it is home to what appears to be the oldest telescope in New Zealand.

Both the Otago Museum and Space Place in Wellington have telescopes within their collections made by James Short (1710-1768), a highly significant 18th century telescope maker, who studied classics, divinity and mathematics at Edinburgh University. Space Place holds a telescope dated to 1758, but Otago Museum´s instrument is 22 years older, having been made in 1736.

The provenance of the telescope was uncovered as a result of research being undertaken by Dr William Tobin, a former Senior Lecturer in the Physics and Astronomy Department at the University of Canterbury.

Otago Museum´s telescope has a 41/93 serial number, meaning it was the 93rd telescope made by Short, and the 41st of that particular size. Its main metal mirror has a diameter of about 60mm. This particular telescope was made in Edinburgh before Short moved to London in 1738 and was previously owned by local astronomer John Campbell Begg, who was instrumental in setting up Dunedin´s Beverly Begg Observatory. It was donated to the Museum by his son, John Wyndham Begg.

Captain James Cook took two of Short´s instruments on the Endeavour to observe the Transit of Venus in 1769.

Otago Museum Director Ian Griffin is thrilled that Dr Tobin has unearthed the history of its James Short telescope, again highlighting the depth and breadth of the Museum´s collection.

"We are delighted to be able to say we are home to the oldest telescope in the country, an announcement that is very timely as we approach the first birthday of the Perpetual Guardian Planetarium," says Griffin.

"To the best of our knowledge, and based on the findings by Dr Tobin, this is the oldest telescope in the country - but of course, we´d love to hear from anyone who thinks they might have an older one." The Dodd-Walls Centre for Photonic and Quantum Technologies has offered to fund the instrument´s conservation, which will allow the Museum to have the telescope on display to its visitors in the near future.

"The Dodd-Walls Centre was established based on New Zealand's outstanding heritage in quantum optics. It is only fitting that we help support the preservation and display of New Zealand's oldest telescope as direct lineage of this optics tradition," says Director of the Dodd- Walls Centre for Photonic and Quantum Technologies, Professor David Hutchinson.

Another strong link between the Begg family and the Otago Museum is the `Interplanetary Cycle Trail´ - a project that will see a scale model of the solar system at various points along the Otago Central Rail Trail. The project is a collaboration between the Otago Central Rail Trail Trust and the Otago Museum, and was inspired by Ian Begg, the grandson of John Campbell Begg.

-- Otago Museum press release.

10. Planet Nine Tilting the Solar System?

"Planet Nine", which May lurk beyond Neptune, May be the reason that the solar system's planets orbit at a six-degree angle with respect to the Sun. The undiscovered planet was predicted by the work of Caltech's Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown in January 2016 appears to be responsible for the unusual tilt of the Sun, according to a new study.

The tilt of the solar system's orbital plane to the sun's equator has long puzzled astronomers. All current evidence is that planetary systems start with a spinning cloud that slowly collapses, first into a disk and then into objects orbiting a central star. The central star's equator should be in the plane of the planetary system.

Brown and Batygin's discovery of evidence that the Sun is orbited by an as-yet-unseen planet - about 10 times the size of Earth in an orbit about 20 times farther from the Sun on average than Neptune's - changes the physics. Planet Nine, based on their calculations, appears to orbit at about 30 degrees off from the other planets' orbital plane. It influences the orbits of a large population of objects in the Kuiper Belt. This is how Brown and Batygin came to suspect a planet existed there in the first place.

Planet Nine's angular momentum is having an outsized impact on the solar system based on its location and size. A planet's angular momentum equals the mass of an object multiplied by its distance from the Sun, and corresponds with the force that the planet exerts on the overall system's spin. Because the other planets in the solar system all exist along a flat plane, their angular momentum works to keep the whole disk spinning smoothly.

Planet Nine's unusual orbit, however, adds a multi-billion-year wobble to that system. Mathematically, given the hypothesized size and distance of Planet Nine, a six-degree tilt fits perfectly, Brown says.

"Because Planet Nine is so massive and has an orbit tilted compared to the other planets, the solar system has no choice but to slowly twist out of alignment," says Elizabeth Bailey, a graduate student at Caltech and lead author of a study announcing the discovery.

The next question, then, is how did Planet Nine achieve its unusual orbit? Though that remains to be determined, Batygin suggests that the planet May have been ejected from the neighbourhood of the gas giants by Jupiter, or perhaps May have been influenced by the gravitational pull of other stars in the solar system's extreme past.

For now, Brown and Batygin continue to work with colleagues throughout the world to search the night sky for signs of Planet Nine along the path they predicted in January. That search, Brown says, May take three years or more.

For the original text and images see http://www.caltech.edu/news

The paper is "Solar Obliquity Induced by Planet Nine," Elizabeth Bailey, Konstantin Batygin & Michael E. Brown, 2016, Astrophysical Journal. http://apj.aas.org, preprint: https://arxiv.org/abs/1607.03963

-- From a Caltech press release forwarded by Karen Pollard.

11. How to Join the RASNZ

RASNZ membership is open to all individuals with an interest in astronomy in New Zealand. Information about the society and its objects can be found at http://rasnz.org.nz/rasnz/membership-benefits A membership form can be either obtained from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by completing the online application form found at http://rasnz.org.nz/rasnz/membership-application Basic membership for the 2016 year starts at $40 for an ordinary member, which includes an electronic subscription to our journal 'Southern Stars'.

12. Gifford-Eiby Lecture Fund

The RASNZ administers the Gifford-Eiby Memorial Lectureship Fund to assist Affiliated Societies with travel costs of getting a lecturer or instructor to their meetings. Details are in RASNZ By-Laws Section H.

For an application form contact the Executive Secretary This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Nichola van der Aa, 32A Louvain Street, Whakatane 3120.

13. Quotes

"Science is written down in papers, but the juicy stories not." -- Solar-Terrestrial Centre of Excellence (STCE) fourth week October Newsletter, passed on by Bob Evans.

"You never tire of the natural world. Putting your feet up is all very well, but it's very boring, isn't it?" -- David Attenborough, 90, quoted in the Independent.

"I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves: and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education." -- Thomas Jefferson.

"The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter." -- Winston Churchill.

Newsletter editor:

Alan Gilmore Phone: 03 680 6817
P.O. Box 57 Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Lake Tekapo 7945
New Zealand

RASNZ Electronic Newsletter October 2016

The RASNZ Email newsletter is distributed by email on or near the 20th of each month. If you would like to be on the circulation list This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for a copy. The latest issue is below.

Email Newsletter Number 190

Affiliated Societies are welcome to reproduce any item in this email newsletter or on the RASNZ website http://www.rasnz.org.nz/ in their own newsletters provided an acknowledgement of the source is also included.

Contents

1. About Those Two Trillion New Galaxies.
2. Foxton Beach Astrophotography Weekend 25-27 November
3. Rosetta Mission Ends
4. The Solar System in November
5. Norman Dickie's Hundredth
6. PhD Scholarships in Astrophysics
7. Variable Star Notes
8. Mercury Still Tectonically Active
9. Trace Gas Orbiter Reaches Mars
10. Prototype Observation Planning Calendar
11. Astronomy Guide Sought
12. How to Join the RASNZ
13. Gifford-Eiby Lecture Fund
14. Kingdon-Tomlinson Fund
15. Quotes

1. About Those Two Trillion New Galaxies

A week or so back a news item announced that a new counting of galaxies estimated that there were two trillion of them. (That's 2 x 12^12 galaxies.) This led to an erroneous multiplication to the number of stars existing. Alan McRobert of Sky & Telescope corrected the hype in the article below.

NASA, the European Space Agency, and others issued press releases on October 13 announcing a new analysis of multi-instrument censuses of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field. A team led by Christopher Conselice (University of Nottingham, UK) sorted galaxies by their brightnesses and estimated redshifts to create a 3D model of which ones are at different distances and hence cosmic ages. Their study provides a better look at galaxy evolution over time, and estimates how many galaxies are too faint and far to see.

According to one press release, the team found that 10 times as many galaxies were packed into a given [co-moving] volume of space in the early universe [as are] found today. Most of these galaxies were relatively small and faint, with masses similar to those of the satellite galaxies surrounding the Milky Way. As they merged to form larger galaxies, the population density of galaxies in space dwindled. This means that galaxies are not evenly distributed throughout the universe's history.

Hardly a surprise. We already knew galaxies grow in part by merging, so there will be more, little galaxies in the past and fewer, bigger galaxies in the present day.

The press release explains that the team used new mathematical models which allowed them to infer the existence of galaxies that the current generation of telescopes cannot observe. This led to the surprising conclusion that in order for the numbers of galaxies we now see and their masses to add up, there must be a further 90 percent of galaxies in the observable universe that are too faint and too far away to be seen with present-day telescopes. These myriad small faint galaxies from the early universe merged over time into the larger galaxies we can now observe.

Again, this picture isn't news - it's just an observational confirmation of the old picture. Astronomers have known for years that, following the Big Bang, the first galaxies to form were very small and numerous compared to those today. Galaxy history since then has been all about mergers and acquisitions. The original tiny ones have been falling together to form big ones many thousands of times more massive. Some primitive dwarf galaxies are still drifting around as leftovers. Some of these are occasionally adding themselves to big galaxies, though at a much slower rate than in the past.

All these observations increasingly match the picture that's predicted by the current overarching model of cosmology, known in the trade as Lambda-CDM. This model assumes a remarkably simple Big Bang, spawned according to inflation theory, and then lets physics run from there. It has been an extremely successful match to the observed universe throughout cosmic history - all the way from evidence we can glean about the instants after the Big Bang, through cosmic evolution ever since, up to the present universe around us.

So what's new from this study? We get a better grasp on those early, unseen dwarf galaxies - the model's building blocks for today's galaxies. That's an achievement; dwarf galaxies are pretty darn elusive. The Lambda-CDM model predicts many more of them than easily meet the eye, and astronomers have been finding the missing ones only slowly. Few doubt that they're out there in one form or another. Now we have a more solid handle on them.

But How Much Galaxy is Two Trillion Galaxies? Up to now, astronomers usually said we know of about 200 billion galaxies in the observable universe (meaning out to our event horizon, a look-back time of 13.8 billion years). Now the number can be said to be about 2 trillion, with the caveat that this estimate doesn't go back a full 13.8 billion years, it's 600 million years short. (Not many galaxies could have formed before then.) The only reason the number is 10 times bigger now is that you can legitimately include more of those littlest early building blocks; they're no longer so theoretical. The total amount of stuff - stars and gas - hasn't changed.

So no, we do not "also have to update the number of stars in the observable universe, which now numbers around 700 sextillion," as some uninformed science writers are saying. That's what they get for taking press-release hype literally.

The Lambda-CDM model predicts that the earliest clumps that formed in the smooth material after the Big Bang should have averaged about a million solar masses each (dark matter and normal matter combined). That's about the mass of a typical globular cluster today, and a millionth the total mass of the Milky Way. That's the mass down to which Conselice's team ran their extrapolations to come up with their count.

Here's their research paper. https://arxiv.org/pdf/1607.03909v2.pdf

See Alan McRobert's article with pictures at http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/universe-2-trillion-galaxies/

2. Foxton Beach Astrophotography Weekend 25-27 November

The Horowhenua Astronomical Society is hosting the fourth New Zealand Astrophotography Weekend at the Foxton Beach Bible Camp. This is an annual event dedicated to astrophotography in a wonderful dark-sky location. It is open to everyone interested in astrophotography - from beginners to advanced. Come along and share your knowledge, tips and experiences. All sorts of astrophotography can be undertaken - solar- system/nightscapes/deep-sky.

The weekend will consist of: practical astrophotography, image processing, presentations, bring-and-buy. Everyone is encouraged to bring along their own telescopes, binoculars, mounts, cameras, etc, however basic they might be. There are plenty of safe areas for people to set up their equipment and leave it in situ for the whole weekend.

Due to high demand numbers will be restricted so please book early to avoid disappointment.

For registration, accommodation options, etc, see http://www.horoastronomy.org.nz/upcoming-events/astrophotography-weekend

-- From the above website.

3. Rosetta Mission Ends

The European Space Agency's (ESA's) Rosetta spacecraft was crashed onto Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on 30 September 2016 (Europe time). Confirmation of the end of the mission arrived at ESA's European Space Operations Center in Darmstadt, Germany, with the loss of signal upon impact.

The final descent gave Rosetta the opportunity to study the comet's gas, dust and plasma environment very close to its surface, as well as take very high-resolution images. The final image was taken from an altitude of 20 meters above the comet's surface by the spacecraft's OSIRIS wide-angle camera. The image scale is about 5 mm per pixel. The image measures about 2.4 metres across. See it at the link below.

The decision to end the mission on the surface is a result of Rosetta and the comet heading out beyond the orbit of Jupiter again. Farther from the sun than Rosetta had ever journeyed before, there would be little power to operate the craft. Mission operators were also faced with an imminent month-long period when the sun is close to the line- of-sight between Earth and Rosetta, meaning communications with the craft would have become increasingly more difficult.

The European Space Agency's Rosetta mission was launched in 2004 and arrived at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on 6 August 2014. It is the first mission in history to rendezvous with a comet and escort it as it orbits the sun. On 4 November 2014, a smaller lander name Philae, which had been deployed from the Rosetta mothership, touched down on the comet and bounced several times before finally alighting on the surface. Philae obtained the first images taken from a comet's surface and sent back valuable scientific data for several days.

Comets are time capsules containing primitive material left over from the epoch when the sun and its planets formed. Rosetta is the first spacecraft to witness at close proximity how a comet changes as it is subjected to the increasing intensity of the sun's radiation. Observations will help scientists learn more about the origin and evolution of our solar system and the role comets may have played in the formation of planets.

See the full press release with pictures at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2016-251

-- Forwarded by Karen Pollard.

4. The Solar System in November

Dates and times shown are NZDT (UT + 13 hours).

Rise and set times are for Wellington. They will vary by a few minutes elsewhere in NZ.

Sunrise, sunset and twilight times in November

                          November  1  NZDT             November 30 NZDT
                  morning  evening              morning  evening
       SUN: rise: 6.05am,  set: 8.04pm     rise: 5.40am,  set: 8.39pm
Twilights 
Civil:    starts: 5.38am, ends: 8.32pm   starts: 5.10am, ends: 9.10pm
Nautical: starts: 5.02am, ends: 9.08pm   starts: 4.29am, ends: 9.51pm
Astro:    starts: 4.22am, ends: 9.48pm   starts: 3.41am, ends:10.39pm

October phases of the moon (times as shown by guide)

          First quarter: November  8 at  8.51 am (Nov  7, 19:51 UT)
  Full moon:     November 15 at  2.52 am (Nov 14, 13:52 UT)
  Last quarter   November 21 at  9.33 pm ( 8:33 UT)
  New moon:      November 30 at  1.18 am (Nov 29, 12:18 UT)

The planets in November 2016

Mercury will be visible, low, early evening near the end of November while brilliant Venus will be easily visible until late evening all month. Mars will be even better placed. Saturn starts the month close to Venus but slips lower in the sky during November to disappear into the evening twilight by the end of the month. Meanwhile Jupiter moves up into the morning sky.

MERCURY is an evening object during November. Having been at superior conjunction with the Sun on the 28th, the planet will set less than 15 minutes after the Sun at the beginning of the month, making it unobservable. By the month´s end the time difference will have increased to an hour and three-quarters. Thus towards the end of November the planet, at magnitude -0.5, should be visible once the sky is sufficiently dark. Look for it very low to the southwest in the direction of the set Sun.

VENUS, by contrast to Mercury, will be visible all evening, not setting until almost midnight by the end of the month. During November Venus moves across Ophiuchus, passing close to theta Oph, magnitude 3.2, on the 5th. The planet moves into Sagittarius on the 9th. On the 17th it will be within 20 arc-minutes of lambda Sgr, mag 2.8 and on the 23rd less than a degree from Nunki, sigma Sgr. At magnitude 2.1, Nunki is the brightest star in the handle of the "teapot".

At the beginning of November, Venus will be a few degrees above Saturn. The crescent moon joins the pair on the 3rd. The moon will be at about the same altitude as Saturn, with Venus some 5 degrees above them.

MARS will be higher than Venus in the evening sky setting just before 2 am on the 1st and just after 1 am on the 30th. The planet starts November in Sagittarius, close to the position Venus will occupy at the end of the month. During November, Mars will move into Capricornus on the 8th and be well across the constellation by the 30th.

Mars dims slightly during November, from magnitude 0.4 to 0.6 as the Earth moves further from the plant. On the 6th, the moon, as a thick crescent, will be 6 degrees below Mars.

SATURN will remain in Ophiuchus all month. At the beginning of November it will set nearly 3 hours after the Sun, so remaining easily visible with an altitude of 18 degrees at the end of nautical twilight. By the end of November, Saturn will set 37 minutes after the Sun, only 6 minutes after the end of civil twilight, so making it very difficult to see.

JUPITER is the only one of the naked eye planets in the November morning sky. It rises an hour before the Sun on the 1st, 2 hours and 20 minutes before it on the 30th. The planet is in Virgo all month, by the end of November it will be 8 degrees from Spica, at mag 1.1 the brightest star in the constellation.

On the morning of the 25th the crescent moon will be 5.5 deg to the left of Jupiter. The following morning the moon, showing a rather thinner crescent, will be 6.5 degrees from Spica.

Outer Planets

URANUS, at magnitude 5.7, remains in Pisces and is observable all evening. By the 30th Uranus will set 2 hours before sunrise. On the evening of the 12th the near full moon will be 2 degrees above the planet.

NEPTUNE is in Aquarius at magnitude 7.9 throughout November. It sets about 4 am on the 1st, and 2 am by the end of November. On the night of November 9/10 the planet will be occulted by the moon an event visible from most of Scandinavia and a large part of Russia. From NZ the moon will be 2 degrees below Neptune as seen in the early morning sky of the 10th.

PLUTO at magnitude 14.4 to 14.5 continues in Sagittarius as an early evening object, setting about 1 am on the 1st and 11.15 pm on the 30th. On November 5 the crescent moon will be 3.5 degrees from Pluto, with the planet itself half the moon´s diameter from the 3.7 magnitude star omega Sgr.

Minor Planets

(1) CERES is in Cetus during November with its magnitude fading from 7.6 to 8.1. Ceres is about 11 degrees from Uranus and, on the 12th, 10 degrees from the moon.

(18) MELPOMENE is also in Cetus between 7 and 8 degrees from Ceres. The asteroid, diameter 148 km, fades from magnitude 8.1 to 8.8 during November. Melpomene is on the opposite side of Ceres to Uranus.

Both Ceres and Melpomene are visible all evening not setting until well after midnight.

(4) VESTA is in Cancer throughout November rising about 2am on the 1st and shortly after midnight on the 30th. Its magnitude brightens from 7.9 to 7.4 during the month. Vesta´s path in Cancer will take it towards M44, the Beehive cluster. On the 30th it will be 2 degrees from M44 but it is then stationary. Subsequently it will move away again from the cluster during December.

-- Brian Loader

5. Norman Dickie's Hundredth

Bob Evans reported to nzastronomers: "Last Saturday I and a number of amateur astronomers from around the country; particularly Dunedin and Christchurch, gathered in Gore before driving the short distance to Norman Dickie's old farm to celebrate his 100th birthday. Together with his family and other friends there were over 100 present; many of them nonagenarians.

Here is a link to a short interview with Norman: http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/84719956/100-year-old-man-remembers-an-event-97-years-ago

Incidentally, the Southland Times called him a Centurian, rather than a Centenarian! Big heading on the front page too."

Extracts from the Stuff article. {Norman] looks back fondly on a life well lived; he was married to the late Gladys Dickie [nee Mackay] for 48 years, had two sons who live with him at his Gore home and has enjoyed many decades involvement in astronomy. Astronomy has played a big part in his life.

A member of the Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand for more than 70 years, the single biggest highlight of his life was going to Northland to witness an eclipse of the sun in 1965. "There was a magnificent halo around the sun, it was a beautiful thing."

6. PhD Scholarships in Astrophysics

University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba or Springfield, Queensland, Australia. Applications for 2017 are open until Monday 31st October 2016

The University of Southern Queensland (USQ) welcomes PhD scholarship applications from Australian and international students to work with us in the Astrophysics Group, a dynamic and friendly team within USQ´s Computational Engineering and Science Research Centre.

PhD scholarships are available for domestic (Australian citizen or permanent resident, or New Zealand citizens) and international students. Domestic students are typically allocated a Research Training Scheme (RTS) place that covers the payment of tuition fees. In addition domestic scholarship students will receive a living allowance of AUD$30,000 per annum. International scholarship students will have their tuition fees paid for by USQ for a period of 3 years, and receive a living allowance ranging from AUD$20,000 to AUD$30,000 per annum. Research student professional development is strongly supported through USQ´s ReDTrain program, and an active role in the professional support and development offered by the Astronomical Society of Australia is encouraged and assisted.

For more information please visit our website http://astrophysics.usq.edu.au and contact us: Jonti Horner (Toowoomba campus) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Brad Carter (Springfield campus) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

-- Abridged from the advertisement circulated by the Astronomical Society of Australia.

7. Variable Star Notes

Newsletter The October Variable Stars South Newsletter will be out shortly. Some of the articles of general interest are Stellar Detective Part II by Tom Richards, Super Outburst of VW Hydrii by Stan Walker and Long Period Variables, including CE Puppis, also by Stan. The newsletter will be posted on the website http://www.variablestarssouth.org/ soon, and available at least by the end of the month.

Asteroid Monitoring Through Phil Evans, the VSS Newsletter Editor, there has been a request from a professional astronomer at the Pulkova Institute in St Petersburg for assistance with monitoring asteroids now visible in the southern hemisphere. Although limited by wet weather and high winds, Carl Knight in Manawatu has been undertaking some observations of these objects. One is 2121 Sevastopol (abs mag 12.3) a main belt binary asteroid. The accompanying moon was discovered in 2010 and orbits the primary at a distance of 26 km. Carl is also following 4963 Kanroku (abs mag 12.4).

-- Alan Baldwin

8. Mercury Still Tectonically Active

Images acquired by NASA's MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft show geologic features that indicate Mercury is likely still contracting today, joining Earth as a tectonically active planet in our solar system.

Previously undetected small fault scarps were observed in images collected during the MESSENGER mission's final 18 months in orbit around Mercury, according to a new paper in Nature Geoscience [http://www.nature.com/ngeo/index.html]. During these last months of the mission, the spacecraft's altitude was lowered allowing the surface to be imaged at higher resolutions than ever before possible.

The small-scale thrust fault scarps are orders of magnitude smaller than larger scarps previously known to exist on the surface of Mercury. They are only a few km in length and tens of metres of relief. Steady meteoroid bombardment quickly degrades and destroys structures this small, indicating that they must have formed relatively recently. They are comparable in size to very young fault scarps identified on the lunar surface attributed to shrinking of the Moon.

Fault scarps appear as cliff-like landforms. Larger, older scarps were identified in both MESSENGER and Mariner 10 images and are evidence of the global contraction of Mercury as its interior cooled causing the crust to shrink. The young age of the small scarps means that Mercury joins Earth as a tectonically active planet with new faults likely forming today as Mercury's interior continues to cool.

Active faulting, paired with evidence for ancient faulting and also the recent discovery by that Mercury's global magnetic field was present billions of years ago, offer consistent support for long-lived slow cooling of Mercury's still hot outer core.

Slip along thrust faults associated with small lunar scarps is possibly connected with shallow moonquakes detected by seismometers deployed during the Apollo missions. Some of these moonquakes reached magnitudes of near 5 on the Richter scale. Seismometers deployed on Mercury in future missions would likely detect Mercury-quakes associated with ongoing slip events on small faults and reactivated older large faults.

See the full Planetary Science Institute (PSI) press releases at http://www.psi.edu/news/mercurytectonics2 http://www.psi.edu/news/mercuryscarps

-- From a PSI press release forwarded by Karen Pollard.

9. Trace Gas Orbiter Reaches Mars

The Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) of the European Space Agency's (ESA´s) ExoMars 2016 entered an elliptical orbit around Mars this morning NZ time. Contact has not yet been confirmed with the mission´s test lander from the surface.

The Entry, Descent & Landing Demonstrator Module (EDM), Schiaparelli, entered the Martian atmosphere some 107 minutes after TGO started its own orbit insertion manoeuvre.

The 577-kg Schiaparelli lander was programmed to autonomously perform an automated landing sequence, with parachute deployment and front heat shield release between 11 and 7 km, followed by a retrorocket braking starting at 1100 metres from the ground, and a final fall from a height of 2 metres protected by a crushable structure.

Prior to atmospheric entry at 14:42 UT (3:42 a.m. NZDT), contact via the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT), the world´s largest interferometric array, located near Pune, India, was established just after it began transmitting a beacon signal 75 minutes before reaching the upper layers of the Martian atmosphere. However, the signal was lost some time prior to landing.

If Schiaparelli reached the surface safely, its batteries should be able to support operations for three to ten days, offering multiple opportunities to re-establish a communication link.

The TGO is equipped with a suite of science instruments to study the Martian environment from orbit. Although mostly a technology demonstrator, Schiaparelli is also carrying a small science payload to perform some observations from ground.

High overhead, NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will collect Schiaparelli telemetry data 1½ hours after landing, while the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter remains out of range on its initial 4 sol-long

ExoMars 2016 is the first part of a two-fold international endeavour conducted by ESA in cooperation with Roskosmos in Russia that will also encompass the ExoMars 2020 mission. Due in 2020, the second ExoMars mission will include a Russian lander and a European rover, which will drill down to 2 m underground to look for pristine organic material.

-- Extracted from http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/ExoMars/ExoMars_TGO_reaches_Mars_orbit_while_EDM_situation_under_assessment and from http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-blogs/astronomy-space-david-dickinson/schiaparelli-lander-mars/

10. Prototype Observation Planning Calendar

An ordinary calendar usually shows only the dates for four points in the phases of the moon. Could an alternative calendar design be useful for an astronomer contemplating what to observe during the month?

This question gave rise to the prototype `Observation Planning Calendar´ that can be downloaded from http://taylfin.com/cal.png . The intention was to graphically demonstrate several useful pieces of information: sunset and sunrise times; the hours of astronomical darkness; the phase of the moon and its rise and set times; and what parts of the sky are visible.

The traditional calendar is organised into a tabular form with a row per week. As weeks have little practical meaning for astronomers, and to convey the required information graphically, a more linear design was called for. Each day is represented by a row, although the row is centred on the midnight of each evening so each row has a different date identified at each end. The rows have hours within the evening marked off horizontally, and the daylight hours are largely dispensed with for spacial reasons.

To represent sunset, sunrise and astronomical darkness each day, a band of graduated greys shows the twilight period as it changes through the month, before a deep black wedge shows the times when the sun is more than 18° below the horizon.

A white line is drawn across the chart when the moon is up. The thickness of the line is directly proportional to the phase of the moon (also indicated to the left of each row). The line curves down to meet the bottom of the row to indicate the rise and/or set time for the moon. It becomes easy to see how dominant the moon will be on any particular evening, which may drive decisions for the sort of astronomy that could be performed.

Constellations and asterisms have dotted lines drawn on the chart, angling across as the month progresses. This shows the point when the constellation crosses the meridian. Looking at the constellations that cross the meridian earlier and later gives the astronomer a good mental picture of what is in the sky and when during a particular evening. Some of the constellations that cross the meridian during daylight hours are still shown, as they may still be up but at lower altitudes during the evening, and depicting these helps provide a more complete picture to the astronomer.

On the right of the chart are two columns containing objects that may be of observational interest. The intention of these is to suggest a number of objects in different parts of the sky that can act as prompts for observations. They could be very familiar, which serves to add to the astronomer´s mental picture of what else will be visible nearby, or they may be less frequently considered and prompt consideration for making observations. Besides these justifications for inclusion, different cut-offs may be used for different columns. The Visual observation column is intended for demonstration and outreach purposes, and so objects that are visible for a couple of hours after astronomical darkness starts and interesting to a general audience are required. The Astrophotography column can include faint fuzzies that aren´t suitable for visual observation and need to be high in the sky for a reasonable period of time; the objects depicted in this case are above 30° for at least three hours. For each identified object, the vertical line indicates which days they are visible.

This sort of chart is specific to a location, as the sunrise and sunset times change with latitude, and the objects visible during the evening will change with longitude. This implies that the calendar design is not well suited to large-scale production and marketing internationally. Given the size of the market of serious astronomers in any one location, there isn´t likely to ever be a commercial reason to generate a calendar like this. It could supplement the information already on the In The Sky page of the RASNZ website. This calendar could be a report generated by planetarium software such as Stellarium, The Sky X, Sky Safari, etc. In generating the report, astronomers could pick from groups of observational objects to include in the report, so instead of showing Visual and Astrophotography columns, they could pick from options such as Doubles, Variables, Messier objects, Transients (comets, eclipses, meteor showers etc.), Nebulae, Globular Clusters, Galaxies and so on. They could modify the constraints that will include or exclude objects from the selection, such as magnitude, acceptable horizon altitude and time above the horizon threshold. The astronomer could build their own list of targets they want to collect, and then be informed when these are visible.

Comments and feedback on this calendar concept are invited, and the designer invites you to contact him by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

-- Jeremy Taylor.

11. Astronomy Guide Sought

Tekapo Stargazing is a new star gazing venture operating out of Tekapo Springs. We are offering a unique audio visual star gazing experience for our customers whilst utilizing the hot pools and telescopes at our existing facilities situated on the shores of Lake Tekapo.

We are looking for experienced and knowledgeable English speaking star guides who enjoy working with the public and have a passion for astronomy. You would have a degree in a closely related field or have a high level of astronomy knowledge.

Essential skills and attributes: Great customer service and people skills, the ability to lead; entertain and educate customers; have used an astronomical telescope; can take responsibility, make decisions and follow through with action; a sense of passion for astronomy and entertaining people; reliable, punctual and well presented.

This role entails managing and guiding groups of up to 20 persons at one time, educating and entertaining these groups and ensuring they have an unforgettable night sky experience.

Guides will utilise green laser pointers to point out night sky features and utilise high end telescopes to get our customers closer to what the night sky holds. Star Gazing Tours are run at night so guides must be happy to work evenings through night shift.

If you have a passion for astronomy, enjoy the feel of a small alpine tourist village and love the outdoors, then this role presents a great opportunity.

All Tekapo Star Gazing staff receive access to all Tekapo Springs facilities and a ski seasons pass too Round Hill Ski Area over the winter season if they are employed during the winter months.

Applicants must be fluent English speaking and have NZ residency or citizenship.

Please email a CV to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. With current contactable referees. Applications close 20th November 2016.

12. How to Join the RASNZ

RASNZ membership is open to all individuals with an interest in astronomy in New Zealand. Information about the society and its objects can be found at http://rasnz.org.nz/rasnz/membership-benefits A membership form can be either obtained from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by completing the online application form found at http://rasnz.org.nz/rasnz/membership-application Basic membership for the 2016 year starts at $40 for an ordinary member, which includes an electronic subscription to our journal 'Southern Stars'.

13. Gifford-Eiby Lecture Fund

The RASNZ administers the Gifford-Eiby Memorial Lectureship Fund to assist Affiliated Societies with travel costs of getting a lecturer or instructor to their meetings. Details are in RASNZ By-Laws Section H.

For an application form contact the Executive Secretary This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Nichola van der Aa, 32A Louvain Street, Whakatane 3120.

14. Kingdon-Tomlinson Fund

The RASNZ is responsible for recommending to the trustees of the Kingdon Tomlinson Fund that grants be made for astronomical projects. The grants may be to any person or persons, or organisations, requiring funding for any projects or ventures that promote the progress of astronomy in New Zealand. Applications are now invited for grants from the Kingdon-Tomlinson Fund. The application should reach the Secretary by 1 November 2016. Full details are set down in the RASNZ By-Laws, Section J. For an application form contact the RASNZ Executive Secretary, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Nichola van der Aa, 32A Louvain Street, Whakatane 3120.

15. Quotes

"If, then, a man knows accurately the movements of all the stars, the Sun, and the Moon, so that neither the place nor the time of any of their configurations escapes his notice, ...Why can he not, too, with respect to an individual man, perceived the general quality of his temperament from the ambient at the time of his birth?" -- Claudius Ptolemy quoted in a good article on the history of astrology in National Geographic 'History' Sept.-Oct.

"I don't believe in astrology. I am a Sagittarius and we're very sceptical." - Warren Tantum.

"After one look at this planet any visitor from outer space would say 'I want to see the manager'" -- William S. Burroughs.

Newsletter editor:

Alan Gilmore Phone: 03 680 6817
P.O. Box 57 Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Lake Tekapo 7945
New Zealand

RASNZ Electronic Newsletter September 2016

The RASNZ Email newsletter is distributed by email on or near the 20th of each month. If you would like to be on the circulation list This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for a copy. The latest issue is below.

Email Newsletter Number 189

Affiliated Societies are welcome to reproduce any item in this email newsletter or on the RASNZ website http://www.rasnz.org.nz/ in their own newsletters provided an acknowledgement of the source is also included.

Contents

1. Asteroid "New Zealand"
2. 2016 Burbidge Dinner - 8th October
3. The Solar System in October
4. Norman Dickie's Century Celebration - October 1-2
5. PhD Scholarships in Astrophysics
6. Foxton Beach Astrophotography Weekend 25-27 November
7. Variable Star News
8. Rosetta's Final Descent
9. Philae Found!
10. Memories of Bruce Slee
11. Proxima Centauri's Planet
12. Gaia Plots a Billion Stars
13. How to Join the RASNZ
14. Gifford-Eiby Lecture Fund
15. Kingdon-Tomlinson Fund
16. Quotes

1. Asteroid "New Zealand"

There's now a version of New Zealand in space. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has formally approved the name "New Zealand" for an asteroid orbiting in the Main Belt of asteroids between Mars and Jupiter.

The space rock, estimated to be around one kilometre across, was named by its discoverer, Auckland astronomer Jennie McCormick. Her initial discovery was made on 16 September 2009, when the asteroid happened to be at its closest point to Earth and therefore at its brightest. Even so, it was exceedingly faint and could easily have been missed. McCormick noticed the very faint moving object in images she was making of a comet, and it was a lucky coincidence that both objects just happened to lie within the narrow field of her telescope.

"I always like to check every image I take just in case it shows up something unexpected," said McCormick, an internationally recognised amateur astronomer who runs the Howick-based Farm Cove observatory. "So it was rather thrilling to finally find an asteroid that had so far escaped detection by much larger telescopes."

She immediately sent the position of the new object to both Stardome and Mt John Observatories so that over the following nights and months further supporting observations could be obtained. Since McCormick's discovery, the asteroid has been observed by a number of observatories around the world and its orbit is now very well determined. Continued below.

It orbits the Sun once every 3.49 years and comes closest to Earth only once every seven years. It was during one of these closer passes to Earth that McCormick happened to spot it, and at any other time, it would have been too faint to see with her telescope.

On average, "New Zealand" is 345 million km from the sun and never gets closer than about 128 million km to Earth.

Stardome astronomer Dr Grant Christie noted that "It was quite an achievement to discover an asteroid this faint with a smaller telescope than ours from the middle of Auckland." Over the last decade or two, all the large - and bright - asteroids have been found by intensive professional surveys, and only the small faint ones remain undiscovered. To date over 700,000 asteroids have been catalogued but only 2 per cent have yet received a name.

McCormick has been conducting astronomical research from her observatory for the last 16 years, during which she has studied a wide range of celestial objects and collected thousands of hours of scientific data.

Further to the discovery of "New Zealand", also numbered asteroid "386622", McCormick has contributed to over 50 papers published in major scientific journals and has contributed to the discovery of 19 exoplanets, or planets orbiting other stars.

It's not the first time an object in space has received a name with a Kiwi link: New Zealand astronomers have named objects, and some objects have been named after famous Kiwis, including a crater on Mercury for artist Frances Hodgkins and a crater on the Moon for Sir Ernest Rutherford.

-- Adapted from an article in the NZ Herald. See the original at http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11711238

The basic orbital elements for asteroid (386622) New Zealand are a = 2.301 AU, e = 0.194, i = 7.07 degrees, P = 3.49 years.

2. 2016 Burbidge Dinner - 8th October

The Auckland Astronomical Society's Burbidge Dinner is on Saturday 8th October at Alexandra Park. Our guest speaker is Doug Simons from the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope. The early bird discount is available to RASNZ & other Society members. Last day to order tickets will be 30 September.

The full text and details are at https://www.astronomy.org.nz/new/public/events.aspx

-- Andrew Buckingham

3. The Solar System in October

Dates and times shown are NZDT (UT + 13 hours).

Rise and set times are for Wellington. They will vary by a few minutes elsewhere in NZ.

Sunrise, sunset and twilight times in October

                          October  1  NZDT              October 30  NZDT
                  morning  evening              morning  evening
SUN:        rise: 6.52am,  set: 7.28pm     rise: 6.06am,  set: 8.03pm
Twilights
Civil:    starts: 6.27am, ends: 7.55pm   starts: 5.39am, ends: 8.31pm
Nautical: starts: 5.55am, ends: 8.27pm   starts: 5.03am, ends: 9.07pm
Astro:    starts: 5.21am, ends: 9.01pm   starts: 4.24am, ends: 9.46pm

October phases of the moon (times as shown by guide)

          New moon:      October  1 at  1.11 pm (00:11 UT)
  First quarter: October  9 at  5.33 pm (04:33 UT)
  Full moon:     October 16 at  5.23 pm (04:23 UT)
  Last quarter   October 23 at  8.14 am (Oct 22, 19:14 UT)
  New moon:      October 31 at  6.38 am (Oct 30, 17:38 UT)

The planets in October 2016

Mercury is too close to the Sun for observation throughout October as is Jupiter for most of the month. Venus climbs a little further into the evening sky and passes Saturn. Mars remains well placed in the evening sky.

MERCURY starts October as a morning object but rises only 24 minutes before the Sun. During the rest of October it gets closer to the Sun until at superior conjunction on the 28th. The planet will then be 214 million km from the Earth (1.43 AU) and some 65 million km beyond the Sun. By the end of October Mercury, nominally an evening object, will set about 10 minutes after then Sun

VENUS becomes even more prominent in the evening sky in October. It sets two hours and forty after the Sun on the 1st increasing to three and a quarter hours later on the 31st, that is after 11 pm. The planet starts the month in Libra, moves into Scorpius on the 18th and on into Ophiuchus on the 25th. A night later Venus will be 3° from Antares. On the 30th it will be 3° from Saturn. Its path in Ophiuchus takes it about midway between Antares and Saturn with the three virtually in line on the evening of the 28th.

Much earlier in the month, a thin crescent moon is 7° from Venus on the evening of October 4.

MARS remains an evening object in Sagittarius during October setting about 2 am by the end of the month. It slowly dims a little during the month as the Earth pulls away from the planet

On the 7th Mars will be only 12 arc minutes from the star lambda Sgr, magnitude 2.8, that is less than half the diameter of the full moon. Later, in mid October Mars will be just over a degree from Nunki, at magnitude 2.1 the brightest star in the "handle" of the "teapot". The moon, a little short of first quarter, is 8° from Mars on the 8th.

JUPITER was at conjunction with the Sun on September 26. Consequently it has moved into the dawn sky but is too close to the Sun for observation for most of October. By the 31st it rises about an hour earlier than the Sun, and may be visible very low to the east half an hour before sunrise.

SATURN remains in Ophiuchus during October, a few degrees to the right of Antares as seen in the mid evening sky. By the end of October Saturn sets about 11 pm. The crescent moon will be at its closest to Saturn for the month, 4° to the right of, and slightly lower than, the planet. Towards the end of the month Saturn is passed by Venus.

Outer Planets

URANUS, at magnitude 5.7, is in Pisces. It is at opposition on October 15, so in the sky all night. It is then just under 19 AU, 2835 million km, from the Earth and one more astronomical unit from the Sun.

NEPTUNE is in Aquarius at magnitude 7.8 to 7.9. By the end of October it will set about 4 am. An occultation of Neptune by the moon on October 13 is visible from the extreme east of Siberia, Alaska and northwest Canada.

PLUTO at magnitude 14.4 is also in the evening sky during October setting after midnight. The planet remains in Sagittarius, by the end of the month it will be about 15 arc-minutes from the magnitude 3.7 star omega Sgr. Mars' path will take it past Pluto during October. The two are closest on the 19th with Mars 3.3° from Pluto.

Minor Planets

(1) CERES is in Cetus during October and is at opposition on October 25. Its magnitude will then be 7.4.

(18) MELPOMENE is also in Cetus about 7° from Ceres. Melpomene is at opposition with a magnitude 8.0, a few days after Ceres.

(4) VESTA starts October as a morning object in Gemini 8° from the 1.2 magnitude star Pollux. It crosses into Cancer on the 10th. By the end of the month its magnitude will be 7.9. It will then rise about 2 am.

(11) PARTHENOPE reaches a magnitude 9.2 when at opposition at the beginning of October. It is then in Cetus but moves on into Pisces on the 11th. Parthenope fades quite rapidly following opposition to 10.0 by the end of the month.

-- Brian Loader

4. Norman Dickie's Century Celebration - October 1-2

Norman Dickie of Gore, an RASNZ member for 71 years, turns 100 on Sunday 2nd October. Celebrations are planned over the weekend of October 1st and 2nd. Details were in the July Newsletter, No.187, Item 7.

Please RSVP for the Saturday afternoon tea and evening BBQ by Monday 26th September for catering purposes. No RSVP is necessary for the Sunday event at the St Andrews Church as this is an open event where hundreds of people are expected.

Contact Ross Dickie, phone (03) 208 9623, mobile 027 208 9623, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for RSVP and further details.

5. PhD Scholarships in Astrophysics

University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba or Springfield, Queensland, Australia. Applications for 2017 are open until Monday 31st October 2016

The University of Southern Queensland (USQ) welcomes PhD scholarship applications from Australian and international students to work with us in the Astrophysics Group, a dynamic and friendly team within USQ´s Computational Engineering and Science Research Centre.

PhD scholarships are available for domestic (Australian citizen or permanent resident, or New Zealand citizens) and international students. Domestic students are typically allocated a Research Training Scheme (RTS) place that covers the payment of tuition fees. In addition domestic scholarship students will receive a living allowance of AUD$30,000 per annum. International scholarship students will have their tuition fees paid for by USQ for a period of 3 years, and receive a living allowance ranging from AUD$20,000 to AUD$30,000 per annum. Research student professional development is strongly supported through USQ´s ReDTrain program, and an active role in the professional support and development offered by the Astronomical Society of Australia is encouraged and assisted.

For more information please visit our website http://astrophysics.usq.edu.au and contact us: Jonti Horner (Toowoomba campus) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Brad Carter (Springfield campus) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

-- Abridged from the advertisement circulated by the Astronomical Society of Australia.

6. Foxton Beach Astrophotography Weekend 25-27 November

The Horowhenua Astronomical Society is hosting the fourth New Zealand Astrophotography Weekend at the Foxton Beach Bible Camp. This is an annual event dedicated to astrophotography in a wonderful dark-sky location. It is open to everyone interested in astrophotography - from beginners to advanced. Come along and share your knowledge, tips and experiences. All sorts of astrophotography can be undertaken - solar- system/nightscapes/deep-sky.

The weekend will consist of: practical astrophotography, image processing, presentations, bring-and-buy. Everyone is encouraged to bring along their own telescopes, binoculars, mounts, cameras, etc, however basic they might be. There are plenty of safe areas for people to set up their equipment and leave it in situ for the whole weekend.

Due to high demand numbers will be restricted so please book early to avoid disappointment.

For registration, accommodation options, etc, see http://www.horoastronomy.org.nz/upcoming-events/astrophotography-weekend

-- From the above website.

7. Variable Star News

Data Analysis

The American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) September 2016 Monthly Newsletter had a link to documents on their website dealing with data analysis https://www.aavso.org/analyze-data. This provides a list of 9 variable star analysis topics; the list would be worth perusing by anyone interested in variable star variability analysis.

Three items I found particularly interesting were investigations into changes in periods (secular changes) of Mira variables based on visual observations. These are blog posts by Grant Foster (former AAVSO staff member) and pioneer of many of the AAVSO data methods & software used for data analysis. Some of the work reported is a comparison of the utility of numerous visual observations compared with more limited instrumental observations. The 5 star analysis tutorial may be found on the page https://www.aavso.org/5-star-analysis-tutorial For the Grant Foster blogs look for the heading Blog Posts by Grant Foster: o Through a Picket Fence - About the problem of aliasing in variable star analysis o Seeing the Light - About the precision of large data sets of visual observations o Skin a cat - Investigating with BH Crucis three different methods of analysis:- WWZ = weighted wavelet Z-formation, a method used by Templeton & Willson, 2005; Windowed Fourier analysis; CLEAnest analysis method.

The AAVSO tutorial options can also be found directly under AAVSO Top Line menu bar Tab: Getting Started, sub-tab Observing Tutorials.

Variable Star Education - AAVSO CHOICE on-line courses in the remainder of 2016 are:

October 3 - 28 CCD Photometry Part 2 This course will cover topics including optimal image photometry settings and techniques, transformation, and basic error estimation.Part I of this course is not a prerequisite, but is very strongly encouraged for new CCD photometrists

November 14 - December 9 DSLR Photometry This course will utilize the new DSLR photometry manual as its guide. The target audience is first-time beginner to intermediate level DSLR observers.

For more information on CHOICE see https://www.aavso.org/choice-astronomy There is a charge for these courses (US$50).

Nova Update

An update (CBET 4320) has been issued 10 Sept 2016 by the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegraphs on Nova Sco 2016 No 2, discovered 6 Sept 2016. Spectroscopic observations have revealed that this is a highly reddened, classical Fe II type nova. For the details of the notice refer to the AAVSO website section heading Recent Activity, Alert Notice 550.

-- Alan Baldwin, Variable Stars South

8. Rosetta's Final Descent

Squeezing out unique scientific observations until the very end, the European Space Agency's (ESA) Rosetta spacecraft's mission will culminate with a descent on 30 September towards a region of active pits on the comet's head.

The region, known as Ma'at, lies on the smaller of the two lobes of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. It is home to several active pits more than 100 m in diameter and 50-60 m in depth -- where a number of the comet's dust jets originate. The walls of the pits also exhibit intriguing metre-sized lumpy structures called 'goose bumps', which scientists believe could be the signatures of early Cometesimals that assembled to create the comet in the early phases of solar system formation.

Rosetta will get its closest look yet at these fascinating structures on 30 September: the spacecraft will target a point adjacent to a 130 m-wide, well-defined pit that the mission team has informally named Deir el-Medina, after a structure with a similar appearance in an ancient Egyptian town of the same name. Like the archaeological artefacts found inside the Egyptian pit that tell historians about life in that town, the comet's pit contains clues to the geological history of the region. Rosetta will target a point very close to Deir el- Medina, within an ellipse about 700 x 500 m.

Since 9 August, Rosetta has been flying elliptical orbits that bring it progressively closer to the comet. On its closest flyby, it may come within 1 km of the surface, closer than ever before. "Although we've been flying Rosetta around the comet for two years now, keeping it operating safely for the final weeks of the mission in the unpredictable environment of this comet and so far from the Sun and Earth, will be our biggest challenge yet," says Sylvain Lodiot, ESA's spacecraft operations manager.

"We are already feeling the difference in gravitational pull of the comet as we fly closer and closer: it is increasing the spacecraft's orbital period, which has to be corrected by small manoeuvres. But this is why we have these flyovers, stepping down in small increments to be robust against these issues when we make the final approach."

The final flyover will be completed on 24 September. Then a short series of manoeuvres needed to line Rosetta up with the target impact site will be executed over the following days as it transfers from flying elliptical orbits around the comet onto a trajectory that will eventually take it to the comet's surface on 30 September.

The collision manoeuvre will take place in the evening of 29 September, initiating the descent from an altitude of about 20 km. Rosetta will essentially free-fall slowly towards the comet in order to maximise the number of scientific measurements that can be collected and returned to Earth before its impact.

A number of Rosetta's scientific instruments will collect data during the descent, providing unique images and other data on the gas, dust and plasma very close to the comet. The exact complement of instruments and their operational timeline remains to be fixed, because it depends on constraints of the final planned trajectory and the data rate available on the day.

The impact is predicted to occur within 20 minutes of 10:40 UTC, with uncertainties linked to the exact trajectory of Rosetta on the day, and the influence of gravity close to the comet. Taking into account the additional 40 minute signal travel time between Rosetta and Earth on 30 September, this means that the confirmation of impact is expected at ESA's mission control in Darmstadt, Germany, within 20 minutes of 11:20 UTC. The times will be updated as the trajectory is refined.

-- From an ESA press release forwarded by Karen Pollard.

9. Philae Found!

Less than a month before the end of the mission, Rosetta's high-resolution camera has revealed the Philae lander wedged into a dark crack on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

The images were taken on 2 September by the OSIRIS narrow-angle camera as the orbiter came within 2.7 km of the surface and clearly show the main body of the lander, along with two of its three legs. The images also provide proof of Philae's orientation, making it clear why establishing communications was so difficult following its landing on 12 November 2014.

Philae was last seen when it first touched down at Agilkia, bounced and then flew for another two hours before ending up at a location later named Abydos, on the comet's smaller lobe. After three days, Philae's primary battery was exhausted and the lander went into hibernation, only to wake up again and communicate briefly with Rosetta in June and July 2015 as the comet came closer to the Sun and more power was available.

However, until early September, the precise location was not known. Radio ranging data tied its location down to an area spanning a few tens of meters, but a number of potential candidate objects identified in relatively low-resolution images taken from larger distances could not be analysed in detail until recently. While most candidates could be discarded from analysis of the imagery and other techniques, evidence continued to build towards one particular target, which is now confirmed in images taken unprecedentedly close to the surface of the comet. At 2.7 km, the resolution of the OSIRIS narrow-angle camera is about 5 cm/pixel, sufficient to reveal characteristic features of Philae's 1m-sized body and its legs, as seen in these definitive pictures.

"This wonderful news means that we now have the missing 'ground-truth' information needed to put Philae's three days of science into proper context, now that we know where that ground actually is!" says Matt Taylor, ESA's Rosetta project scientist.

Text & Images: http://sci.esa.int/rosetta/58220-philae-found/

-- From an ESA press release forwarded by Karen Pollard.

10. Memories of Bruce Slee

Australian radio astronomer Bruce Slee died last month. His cooperation with NZ astronomers is recalled below. ---------- Ed Budding provided the following memories of Bruce Slee, originally written for the 'Brucefest' in August 2016 at Sydney University:

I was happy to see Bruce in good form and spirits when I called at his residence in Turramurra last Easter. He was as alive as ever with suggestions about future possible plans and proposals for observations. And, as ever, a Wagnerian overture was playing somewhere in the background.

It's hard to think that it is now over 25 years since I first met Bruce. I had been invited to call in to his office at RadLab whilst passing through Sydney on my return from an observing spell at Mt Stromlo. Bruce and Ron Stewart had been putting together a review of radio emission from close binary systems. Ron had remembered a review from me at the third Asian Pacific Regional Meeting of the IAU in Kyoto, and he and Bruce seemed to think I might be able to contribute something useful to the article they were putting together. I offered some remarks, that were well received, and our first joint paper went off to the Astrophysical Journal in 1989. This remarkable experience had a considerable effect on the whole direction of my life and studies. Over the following years I was to enjoy the great pleasure and privilege of working at close hand with Bruce at such wonderful establishments as Parkes and the Australia Telescope National Facility at Narrabri.

My eyes were then opened to wider horizons in more than a literal sense. I refer to the concept of multiwavelength astronomy. I do not know how long Bruce has been engaged with this concept, but he was clearly co-operating with astronomers across the spectrum before I graduated from Clay (C.W.) Allen's old astronomy department at UCL (London) in the mid-sixties. After 1990, Bruce and I were to join forces with a dozen or so specialists from X-rays to radio, as well as theoretical experts, in a number of thrilling campaigns on a range of exciting targets. A couple of dozen joint papers were published as a result.

I like to imagine that this small chapter had some part in the ongoing success of the development of radioastronomy in New Zealand, perhaps the Wellington context, in particular. Had the ill-fated Central Institute of Technology gone on to achieve the university status it was aspiring to in the mid-nineties, the progress might have been more marked. Even so, new impetus continues to spring into the scene, and more recent and greater hurdles crossed. But, in any case, I think we can look to the foundational status of that special group of people like Bruce, and their Australian nucleus, to see the definite historical origins and continuous growth of radioscience in this general region.

investigation. ----------

Bill Allen also recalled photoelectric monitoring of Bruce's flare stars:

I together with Paul Edwards, did make observations of flare stars for Bruce Slee using both the Beverly Begg Observatory and the telescopes at Mt John. Somewhere in my notes there is a trace of a flare on Proxima Centauri.

11. Proxima Centauri's Planet

An international team of astronomers has found clear evidence of a planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, the closest star to our solar system. The new world, designated Proxima b, orbits its cool red parent star every 11 days and has a temperature suitable for liquid water to exist on its surface, if it were present. This rocky world is a little more massive than the Earth and is the closest exoplanet to us; it may even be the closest possible abode for life beyond our own Sun. A paper describing this milestone finding was published by Nature on 2016 August 25.

Proxima Centauri is a red dwarf star just over four light-years from our solar system. It is too faint to be seen with the naked eye and is close to the much brighter pair of stars that comprise Alpha Centauri.

During the first half of 2016, the HARPS spectrograph on the European Southern Observatory's 3.6-meter telescope at La Silla regularly observed Proxima Centauri, as did other professional and amateur telescopes around the world. The team of astronomers, called the Pale Red Dot campaign, was looking for a tiny back-and-forth wobble in the star caused by the gravitational pull of an orbiting planet. In addition to data gathered by the Pale Red Dot campaign, the paper incorporates contributions from scientists who have been observing Proxima Centauri for years.

The Pale Red Dot data, when combined with earlier observations, revealed that at regular intervals Proxima Centauri is approaching Earth at about 5 km per hour -- normal human walking pace -- and at opposite times in those cycles it is receding at the same speed. This regular pattern repeats with a period of 11.2 days. Careful analysis of how tiny the resulting Doppler shifts were showed that they indicated the presence of a planet with a mass at least 1.3 times that of the Earth, orbiting about 7 million km from Proxima Centauri -- only 5 percent of the distance between the Earth and the Sun.

One complication to the analysis is that red dwarfs like Proxima Centauri are active stars, and their natural brightness variations could mimic the presence of a planet. In order to exclude this possibility, the team also monitored the changing brightness of the star very carefully.

Although the planet companion, Proxima b, orbits much closer to its star than Mercury does to the Sun in our solar system, the star itself is far fainter and cooler than the Sun. As a result, Proxima b has an estimated temperature that -- if water were present -- would allow it in a liquid state on its surface, thus placing it within the so-called "habitable zone" around the star. Despite the temperate orbit of Proxima b, the conditions on the surface may be strongly affected by the ultraviolet and x-ray flares from the star -- far more intense than the Earth experiences from the Sun.

Text & Images: https://carnegiescience.edu/news/press-releases

-- From a Carnegie Institution for Science press release forwarded by Karen Pollard.

12. Gaia Plots a Billion Stars

Astronomers working on the Gaia space telescope have released a first tranche of data recording the position and brightness of more than a billion stars. For some two million of these objects, their distance and proper motion (sideways movement) has also been accurately plotted. Gaia's mapping effort is already unprecedented in scale, but it still has several years to run. Of the 1.1 billion light sources in the data release, something like 400 million of these objects have never been recorded in any previous catalogue. Some will not actually be stars but the very bright centres of very distant galaxies - known as quasars.

The Gaia mission carries two telescopes, which it scans across the Milky Way from a location about 1.5 million km from Earth. The telescopes' mirrors throw their captured light on to a huge, one- billion-pixel camera detector connected to a trio of instruments. It is this ultra-stable and supersensitive optical equipment that Gaia uses to pick out its sample of stars with extraordinary precision. The specification was to get the brightest objects' coordinates down to an error of just seven micro-arcseconds. That's about 13 mm at the Moon's distance.

A good number of data-users will be planet-hunters. By studying the way Gaia's stars appear to wobble on the sky, it should be possible to detect big planets orbiting them.

One eagerly anticipated measurement is the radial velocity of stars, their movement towards or away from us as we and they orbit the galaxy. If this measurement is combined with the stars' proper motion, it will lay bare the dynamics of the Milky Way. It should be possible, for example, to make a kind of time-lapse movie - to run forwards to see how the galaxy might evolve into the future, or to run backwards to see how our cosmic neighbourhood came to be the shape it is today.

At the outset of the mission, it was hoped to get radial velocity data on about 150 million stars. This was thrown into doubt when unexpected stray light was found to be getting into the telescope. This made the observation of the faintest stars and their colours far more challenging. However, radial velocity measurements of at least 100 million stars are still expected.

Based on an article by Jonathan Amos at http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-37355154 See also http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/gaia-mission-maps-billion-stars/

13. How to Join the RASNZ

RASNZ membership is open to all individuals with an interest in astronomy in New Zealand. Information about the society and its objects can be found at http://rasnz.org.nz/rasnz/membership-benefits A membership form can be either obtained from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by completing the online application form found at http://rasnz.org.nz/rasnz/membership-application Basic membership for the 2016 year starts at $40 for an ordinary member, which includes an electronic subscription to our journal 'Southern Stars'.

14. Gifford-Eiby Lecture Fund

The RASNZ administers the Gifford-Eiby Memorial Lectureship Fund to assist Affiliated Societies with travel costs of getting a lecturer or instructor to their meetings. Details are in RASNZ By-Laws Section H.

For an application form contact the Executive Secretary This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Nichola van der Aa, 32A Louvain Street, Whakatane 3120.

15. Kingdon-Tomlinson Fund

The RASNZ is responsible for recommending to the trustees of the Kingdon Tomlinson Fund that grants be made for astronomical projects. The grants may be to any person or persons, or organisations, requiring funding for any projects or ventures that promote the progress of astronomy in New Zealand. Applications are now invited for grants from the Kingdon-Tomlinson Fund. The application should reach the Secretary by 1 November 2016. Full details are set down in the RASNZ By-Laws, Section J. For an application form contact the RASNZ Executive Secretary, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Nichola van der Aa, 32A Louvain Street, Whakatane 3120.

16. Quotes

"Nothing has an uglier look to us than reason, when it is not on our side." -- Halifax.

"Interestingly, according to modern astronomers, space is infinite. This is a very comforting thought - particularly for people who can never remember where they have left things. -- Woody Allen.

Newsletter editor:

Alan Gilmore Phone: 03 680 6817
P.O. Box 57 Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Lake Tekapo 7945
New Zealand

September 2016

Log in or become an RASNZ member to access this Southern Stars issue.

The Astronomy and World Heritage Initiative
John Hearnshaw
Volume 55, number 3. September 2016. p3

 

Slope Point Hill Top Radar Station
Justine Parker
Volume 55, number 3. September 2016. p7

 

Students With A Passion for Astronomy at the RASNZ Napier conference
John Hearnshaw
Volume 55, number 3. September 2016. p13

 

Choosing Between Alternative Microlensing Models
Ashna Sharan and Nicholas J. Rattenbury
Volume 55, number 3. September 2016. p14