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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. Roy Kerr Awarded Einstein Medal
2. Gerry Gilmore FRS
3. Conference Update
4. The Solar System in June
5. More on SOFIA
6. You Can Unofficially Name Exoplanets
7. Voyager 1 Hasn't Exited the Heliosphere
8. Patrick Moore - An Astronomer's View
9. The Horsehead in Infra-Red
10. Faint Supernova Type Found
11. Kingdon-Tomlinson Fund
12. Gifford-Eiby Lecture Fund
13. How to Join the RASNZ
14. Quotes

1. Roy Kerr Awarded Einstein Medal

University of Canterbury Emeritus Professor Roy Kerr heads to Europe next week to become the first New Zealander to receive the Einstein Medal from the Albert Einstein Society in Switzerland. The Einstein Medal will be awarded to Professor Kerr at a ceremony at the University of Bern on May 28. Professor Kerr discovered a specific solution to Einstein's field equations which describes a structure now termed a Kerr black hole. He has made other significant contributions to general relativity theory, but the discovery of the Kerr black hole was so remarkable as to compare with the discovery in physics of a new elementary particle.

With over 100 million trillion black holes in the observable universe, his achievement has been of crucial importance for science. The Kerr Solution has come to be regarded as the most important exact solution to any equation in physics and has been pivotal in understanding the most violent and energetic phenomena in the Universe.

Professor Kerr's solution has already been recognised by the Royal Society, which awarded him its Hughes Medal in 1984, and by the Royal Society of New Zealand which awarded him its Hector Medal in 1982 and its Rutherford Medal in 1993.

The Einstein Medal is awarded annually by the Einstein Society which is based in Bern, Switzerland, where Einstein completed his revolutionary work in the first decade of the 20th century.

The Einstein Society works with the University of Bern to preserve Einstein's legacy in Bern and Switzerland through different activities and, in particular, by annually awarding a medal "to deserving individuals for outstanding scientific findings, works, or publications related to Albert Einstein".

The medal was first awarded to Stephen Hawking in 1979 and, since then, many distinguished scientists have received the medal including six Nobel laureates. For a not-quite-up-to-date list of Einstein Medal recipients see http://www.einstein-bern.ch/index.php?lang=en&show=medaille

-- From a University of Canterbury press release forwarded by Mike Reid.

2. Gerry Gilmore FRS

An RASNZ member of long standing, though resident in the UK for many years, has been made a fellow of the Royal Society, London. The citation on the Royal Society's website reads:

Professor Gerard F Gilmore FRS Professor of Experimental Philosophy, Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge

Gerry Gilmore leads efforts to understand the structure and origin of our Galaxy. He led a revival of star-count analysis that first showed that the Galaxy possesses a "thick" disc, and helped to show that the thick disc formed early in the Galaxy's life. Our current understanding of how the masses of stars are distributed at birth was produced by Gilmore's team. In the early 1990s with a student he obtained the still standard estimate of the mass surface density associated with the discs. This study set the pattern of future work. He pioneered the use of spectral surveys to unravel the Galaxy's history through its chemistry and established that stars in the halo of the Galaxy are chemically distinct from stars in the Galaxy's satellites, even though much of the halo must consist of stars stripped from satellites. In 1994 with a student he discovered the Galaxy's most important satellite after the Magellanic Clouds. As its leading UK proponent, Gilmore played a big role in selection of ESA's revolutionary Gaia mission. He is the driving force behind the ESO-Gaia survey, which has over 250 co-investigators and will obtain spectra designed to complement data from Gaia.

For more see: http://royalsociety.org/people/gerard-gilmore/

3. Conference Update

The opening of the 2013 Invercargill conference is at 7.30 pm on Friday 24 May. The venue is the Ascot Park Hotel. On-line registrations will close on May 20, so if you still intend registering, please do so immediately. After the 20th you will be able to register at the registration desk when you arrive at the venue, but you may not be able to register for the conference dinner on Saturday 25 May. Accommodation in Invercargill may also be difficult to obtain by then due to the Bluff Oyster Festival also on at the weekend.

Visit the RASNZ web site at <http://www.rasnz.org.nz> for more details about the conference and for online registration (up to May 20) for the conference and/or TTSO7.

Further details of the plans for the TTSO7 meeting are available on the Occultation Section web page <http://www.occultations.org.nz/>. If you want to present a talk at the symposium, contact Murray Forbes at <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.> for details.

Airport shuttle.

If you are arriving by air and require vouchers to get the reduced Shuttle fare of $5 between the Invercargill Airport and the Ascot Park Hotel you should apply to Phil Burt, <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>.

Pre-conference tour

Those wishing to join the Friday afternoon tour, 1pm to 4pm, should make their intention known to Bob Evans, <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>. This is not a commitment but he needs to know approximate numbers in order to hire an appropriate bus. The cost is $20, payable when boarding the bus. More details of the tour are on the RASNZ website.

Conference Dinner

The theme for the banquet is "50 Years of Dr Who" to mark 2013 November 23rd as the 50th anniversary of the first transmission of Dr Who on BBC TV. For more information on the above, the LOC can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

-- Brian Loader, Chair, RASNZ SCC. 10 May 2013

4. The Solar System in June

PHASES OF THE MOON (times as shown by GUIDE)

  Last quarter:  June  1 at  6.58 am NZST (May 31, 18:58 UT)
  New moon:      June  9 at  3.57 pm NZST (Jun  8, 15:57 UT)
  First quarter: June 17 at  5.24 am NZST (Jun 16, 17:24 UT)
  Full moon:     June 23 at 11.32 pm NZST (11:32 UT        )
  Last quarter   June 30 at  4.54 pm NZST (04:54 UT        )

Southern winter solstice: june 21, 5.05 pm nzst

The planets

Saturn is easily visible all evening throughout June. Venus will be briefly visible after sunset very low to the northwest. Mercury is near Venus throughout June. On the 1st Jupiter is close to Venus but even lower. It disappears after a night or two to be in conjunction with the Sun on June 19 and is virtually unobservable.

In the morning sky Mars will rise a little before the Sun but be very low.

Planetary conjunction

The last of a series of conjunctions occurs on June 21 when Mercury will be 2° to the upper left of Venus. The two will be low in the twilit evening sky almost round to the northwest from west. Mercury will be at magnitude 1.4, so Venus will act as a marker to locate the fainter planet.

Planets in the evening sky, venus and mercury, saturn.

Venus will be low in the evening sky at sunset but should be easily visible some 30 minutes later. It sets about an hour after the Sun on the 1st when it will be only 4° up half an hour after sundown. By the 30th it will set nearly 2 hours after the Sun. With an altitude of 12° half an hour after sunset it will be an easy find.

On the 1st, Venus will be the middle planet of a line of three. Jupiter will be 3.5° to its lower left but very low. Mercury will be on the opposite side of Venus, 4° away to its upper right. Given a low horizon, this grouping may be a last chance to spot Jupiter, in binoculars, before it is at conjunction with the Sun on the 19th.

The moon, as a very thin crescent only 2% lit, will be 5° to the left of, and very slightly higher than, Venus on the 10th. Mercury will 9° to the moon´s right. The following evening, the moon now nearly 6% lit and a little more obvious, will be 6° above Mercury and 9° from Venus.

Mercury starts June as a reasonably bright object in the evening sky setting some 80 minutes after the Sun. For the first part of the month it gets a little higher in the evening sky, keeping a similar distance ahead of Venus, but Mercury fades a little. The planet reaches its greatest elongation from the Sun on the 12th when it will be 24° to the east of our star.

In the days that follow Venus, still moving away from the Sun, soon catches up with Mercury. The two are in conjunction on the 21st, when Mercury will be 2° to the upper left of Venus, but a good 5 magnitudes fainter. Binoculars will probably be needed to spot Mercury in the evening twilight. Locate Venus first!

By the end of June, Mercury will be 11° to the lower left of Venus. At magnitude 2.9 it is likely to be difficult to find.

Saturn is an easy evening object all month. On the 1st it transits, when it is due north and at its highest, around 10pm, by the 30th at 8pm. The planet is well south of the celestial equator meaning it is quite high in NZ skies, nearly 60° up at its highest. The star Spica, will be about 12° to the left or lower left of Saturn throughout June, with the planet nearly a magnitude brighter.

The 78% lit moon will be 5° to the left of Saturn on the evening of June 19.

Mars IN THE MORNING SKY MARS is the only planet in the morning sky but not likely to be visible. It rises 50 minutes before the Sun on the 1st and just over 70 minutes before it on the 30th. At the latter date by the time Mars is 5° up, the Sun will be less than 7° below the horizon in a similar direction. As a result and with a magnitude 1.5, Mars is not likely to be visible to the eye.

Outer planets

Uranus rises about 2.30 am at the beginning of June and nearly two hours earlier by the end of the month. It will be in Pisces near a corner of Cetus at magnitude 5.9.

Neptune rises 3 hours before Uranus, shortly before midnight at the beginning of June. The planet is currently in Aquarius with a magnitude 7.9 during June.

BRIGHTER ASTEROIDS: Both (1) Ceres, magnitude 8.8, and (4) Vesta, magnitude 8.4, start June in Gemini. Ceres moves into Cancer mid month. They will then set nearly two and a half hours after the Sun, Ceres 10 minutes after Vesta.

On the 1st Vesta will be some 17° to the upper right of Venus and 10° left of Pollux, beta Gem, mag 1.2. Ceres will be 2.5° to the left of the star. By June 7th, Ceres will be at its closest to Pollux, just over half a degree to its upper left.

Venus moves up to pass Vesta later in June. On the 22nd, Vesta will be less than half a degree to the right of Venus, the following night it will be a similar distance below Venus.

By the end of June Vesta will set just over 80 minutes after the Sun, while Vesta sets 100 minutes after.

-- Brian Loader

5. More on SOFIA

Following William Tobin's note about SOFIA coming to New Zealand, Item 6 in the April Newsletter, Karen Pollard forwarded a link to an article in The Press by Paul Gorman, last updated on April 3. ------------

A refrigerated telescope aboard a Boeing 747 sounds like pie in the sky but it's coming to Christchurch this winter to delve into the depths of the universe. Christchurch's southern latitude, its often clear night skies, its long airport runway and the relatively empty airspace have made it irresistible to the scientists involved in a new flying observatory.

Sofia - the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy - is due to land, and take off, and then land and take off quite a few more times, over a three-week period from July 12. Each flight has a price tag of more than US$1 million, which makes it as expensive per hour of observing time as the Hubble Space Telescope. NASA's outreach programme means there are likely to be public open days.

The "observatory-in-a-shortened-jumbo-jet" is a joint venture between NASA and the German space agency DLR (Deutsches Zentrum fur Luftund Raumfahrt). NASA stumped up the 1977 Boeing 747SP, formerly of United Airlines and earlier PanAm, while DLR built the 2.5-metre-diameter telescope tucked into the rear left of the plane and also the telescope's guidance systems. The telescope temperature is kept around minus 33 degrees Celsius when in observing mode and sits in a cavity flooded with nitrogen to cool it before takeoff to stop condensation.

Sofia has cost about US$800m to get off the ground. Scientists initially hoped it might begin operating in 2001, but the engineering challenges and making the plane fly smoothly proved tougher than expected. The stratosphere is the second layer of the atmosphere and provides excellent observing conditions because it lies above the weather and 99 per cent of the atmosphere's water vapour.

Sofia spokesman Nick Veronico told The Press yesterday about 40 scientists and technical staff would accompany the aircraft to Christchurch for the three-week winter observing period.

Retired Canterbury University astronomer Dr William Tobin, who visited the German Sofia headquarters in Stuttgart, said the flying telescope's focus would be on the Solar System and star-forming parts of the Milky Way galaxy. The weather was an important factor in choosing Christchurch, he said. The city's southern latitude and colder upper air meant the stratosphere was actually lower than it was closer to the equator. Consequently, the plane would not need to fly quite as high to get into that better observing layer above Christchurch and the South Island, he said.


The above article can be read at http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/8500671/Flying-observatory-in-Chch-for- winter

6. You Can Unofficially Name Exoplanets

In response to the last Newsletter's Item 7 "You Can't Name Exoplanets" an alert reader has forwarded a link to a highly detailed response on the IAU's press release on this. The guts of it is:

In a statement released earlier this week, Dr. Marcy, who is also a member of Commission 53, said, "For example, the [IAU] press release hammers home the IAU right to name exoplanets... but in reality, the IAU has failed to construct a naming system for exoplanets, after 18 years of exoplanet discoveries! The IAU hasn´t named a single planet - after 18 years! Michel Mayor and I privately decided one day to put the lower case letters "b" and "c", etc, after the star name. There has never been any IAU system of naming exoplanets."

As a follower of Uwingu from the outset, I was always profoundly aware (having actually read the information on the site) that they never made any claims to be the official source of names for exo-planets, but rather they simply wanted to act as a public forum for popular opinion.

Uwingu's goal is first and foremost to act as a source of funds to be used in planetary science, and the naming of exo-planets is simply a convenient mechanism. By equating Uwingu with charlatans who attempt to sell land on the moon, or claim to sell "official" names to stars, this press release is being disingenuous, and the results are potentially quite damaging - that is, at least compared to the completely innocent prospect of have one or two planets with popular names like "Sagan" or "Armstrong", or my favourite "Let the discovery team decide". ------- For the long -- very long -- version see http://thespacewriter.com/wp/2013/04/19/who-names-planets-the-iau-doesnt/

7. Voyager 1 Hasn't Exited the Heliosphere

In response to the April Newsletter's Item 8 "Voyager 1 Has Exited the Heliosphere" David Britten passed along this NASA Voyager Status Update on Voyager 1, dated March 20.

"The Voyager team is aware of reports today that NASA's Voyager 1 has left the solar system," said Edward Stone, Voyager project scientist based at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif. "It is the consensus of the Voyager science team that Voyager 1 has not yet left the solar system or reached interstellar space. In December 2012, the Voyager science team reported that Voyager 1 is within a new region called 'the magnetic highway' where energetic particles changed dramatically. A change in the direction of the magnetic field is the last critical indicator of reaching interstellar space and that change of direction has not yet been observed."

To learn more about the current status of the Voyager mission: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2012-381

Jia-Rui C. Cook 818-354-0850 Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/voyager/voyager20130320.html

8. Patrick Moore - An Astronomer's View

In the December issue of the Newsletter we reprinted obituaries to our Honorary Member Patrick Moore from British newspapers 'The Times' and 'The Economist'. Below is an obituary by astronomer Iain Nicolson, copied from 'The Observatory', vol. 133, No. 1233, 2013 April.


Sir Patrick Alfred Caldwell-Moore (1923-2012)

Patrick Moore was a true giant of the astronomical world. With his infectious enthusiasm, boundless energy, and unparalleled communication skills, he inspired generations of astronomers -- both amateur and professional -- and raised the public awareness of the science of astronomy to heights that had never before been attained.

Born on 1923 March 4, in Pinner, Middlesex, he was brought up in East Grinstead, Sussex. Between the ages of 6 and 16, he was frequently ill because of a heart condition and so was educated mainly at home. When he was six years old, his mother presented him with a copy of 'The Story of the Solar System' by George F. Chambers, published in 1898; that was the book that sparked his lifelong interest in astronomy. He applied himself assiduously to the task of getting to know his way around the sky, and by 1934 had scraped together sufficient funds to buy the 3-inch refractor which enabled him to begin to study in detail the moon and planets. He joined the British Astronomical Association in 1934 at the age of 11, and presented his first paper, 'Small craters in the Mare Crisium', in 1936.

He served in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, flying as a navigator on bombing missions: one way or another, he had what he described as "an interesting war". After leaving the RAF he declined to take up a place at Cambridge because he could not bring himself to apply for a government grant. Instead he worked for a time as a prep-school teacher. Following the publication of his first book, 'Guide to the Moon' (which subsequently ran to eight editions)in 1953, he resigned from his teaching post and devoted himself to a career as a freelance writer. 'Guide to the Moon' was soon followed by further books, notably 'Guide to the Planets' and 'The Amateur Astronomer', and indispensible 'bible' for budding (and established) amateur observers. With his writing career firmly on track, he continued to be an assiduous, painstaking, and accurate observer. He paid special attention to the areas around the lunar limb, which were revealed by librations. His charts of those areas were consulted by Soviet space scientists during the 'Luna' programme. Always active within the British Astronomical Association, he served as Director of the Mercury and Venus Section, Director of the Lunar Section (twice), and as President (from 1982 to 1984).

His big breakthrough came in 1957 when he was invited by BBC producer Paul Johnstone to present a series of programmes, to be broadcast once every four weeks, entitled 'The Sky at Night'. The first programme, which came out on 1957 April 24, featured the appearance in the evening sky of a bright comet - - Arend-Roland. One of the early highlights of his television career came on 1959 October 24, when the Russians provided copies of the first grainy images of the far side of the Moon, obtained by the Luna 3 spacecraft, just in time to be shown for the first time on that evenings 'The Sky at Night'. Among other pioneering ventures were his successful television coverage of a total solar eclipse from the top of a Yugoslavian mountain in 1961 February, and a first attempt later that year -- though badly frustrated by clouds -- to broadcast direct images of Jupiter and Saturn viewed through a 24-inch telescope.

In 1965, he accepted an invitation to become the first director of the fledgling Armagh Planetarium in Northern Ireland, but resigned from the post in 1968 and returned to his home county of Sussex, moving into the delightful thatched house in Selsey, which was to be his home for the rest of his life. Very soon afterwards, he became a key member of the BBC team that covered the Apollo missions, from the first circumlunar flight of Apollo 8 in 1968 December to the final landing mission of Apollo 17 in December 1972.

Patrick Moore remained at the helm of 'The Sky at Night' right up to the time of his death, having missed (due to a severe bout of food poisoning) only one of the more than 700 programmes that had been broadcast up to that time. Over the course of those 55 years he proved himself to be a truly exceptional guide to the world of astronomy. He explained the basics and new discoveries alike with clarity, enthusiasm, and gusto, drew the best out of many guests who graced his programme, enchanted millions of viewers and enticed many of them to get out and see for themselves the delights that the night sky holds. 'The Sky at Night' is without doubt the longest-running regular television programme with the same presenter -- a record that is unlikely to be broken any time soon, if ever, and a testament to Patrick Moore's unique flair and broadcasting style.

He was co-founder, and a former President, of the Society for Popular Astronomy (which originally was called The Junior Astronomical Society), which celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2013. He edited, or co-edited, the annual 'Yearbook of Astronomy' for over fifty years from 1962, was the driving force behind the founding, in 1987, of the monthly magazine 'Astronomy Now', and was its first editor. He also played a major role in founding the BBC's 'Sky at Night' magazine in 2005. Another of his achievements was his compilation of the Caldwell Catalogue -- a list of 109 deep-sky objects accessible to modest telescopes, but which do not feature in the Messier catalogue.

His contributions to astronomy, broadcasting, and the public understanding of science have been recognized by numerous awards and honorary degrees. He was appointed OBE in 1968, CBE in 1989, and was knighted in 2001. He was awarded a BAFTA in 2002 (presented, to his great delight, by his good friend, Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin) for services to television. Of all his awards, perhaps the one he prized most dearly was his election in 2001 as an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society -- as an amateur astronomer he felt that to be recognized in this way by the pre-eminent scientific body in the land was an honour beyond compare.

He was a true polymath, with interests and abilities that ranged far beyond the world of astronomy. A talented self-taught musician who composed haunting piano pieces, rousing marches, waltzes, and three comic operas, he was an accomplished pianist and an excellent xylophone player whose on-stage credits included a solo performance at a Royal Command Performance and a duet with renowned percussionist Evelyn Glennie. A dedicated cricket enthusiast, he was a highly effective, if unconventional, leg-spin bowler who played regularly for his local team in Selsey, and, on occasion, for The Lord's Taverners. Among other things, he was a county-standard chess player and a remarkably effective table-tennis player. Eccentric, opinionated, and certainly not politically correct (with firmly held views that he was not in the least afraid to express forcibly -- sometimes getting himself into hot water as a result), kind, generous to a fault, and intensely loyal, he had a tremendous sense of fun and a propensity for playing pranks, promulgating spoofs, berating authority, and for sending himself up.

Throughout his long career he endeavoured to reply personally to every letter that landed on his desk, and gave freely and willingly of his time, energy, enthusiasm, and resources to societies, organisations, and individuals who sought his advice or help. 'Farthings', his home for the last 44 years, was a welcoming place, where his hospitality was legendary. As his physical problems mounted in later life and his lack of mobility and dexterity became acute, he became intensely frustrated that he could no longer play the piano or xylophone, participate in cricket, nor eventually, use his telescopes of the idiosyncratic 1908 Woodstock typewriter on which the great majority of his books had been written. But his brain remained as active and focused as ever, and his work-rate nothing short of phenomenal. Until late 2012 November, when he was hospitalized for a couple of weeks, he was still working on book projects and revisions, having just completed a set of updates for the forthcoming paperback edition of his monumental 'Data Book of Astronomy'.

He passed away peacefully at home on 2012 December 9, with close friends and carers around him, and with his beloved cat Ptolemy, by his side. How best to sum up his life and influence? I can do no better than to quote words penned by his close friend -- astrophysicist and legendary guitarist, Brian May: "Patrick is irreplaceable. There will never be another Patrick Moore. But we were lucky enough to get one."

9. The Horsehead in Infra-Red

Astronomers have used NASA's Hubble Space Telescope to photograph the iconic Horsehead Nebula in a new, infrared light to mark the 23rd anniversary of the famous observatory's launch aboard the space shuttle Discovery on 24 April 1990.

Looking like an apparition rising from whitecaps of interstellar foam, the iconic Horsehead Nebula has graced astronomy books ever since its discovery more than a century ago. The nebula is a favourite target for amateur and professional astronomers. It is shadowy in optical light. It appears transparent and ethereal when seen at infrared wavelengths. The rich tapestry of the Horsehead Nebula pops out against the backdrop of Milky Way stars and distant galaxies that easily are visible in infrared light.

Hubble has been producing ground-breaking science for two decades. During that time, it has benefited from a slew of upgrades from space shuttle missions, including the 2009 addition of a new imaging workhorse, the high-resolution Wide Field Camera 3 that took the new portrait of the Horsehead.

The nebula is part of the Orion Molecular Cloud, located about 1,500 light-years away in the constellation Orion. The cloud also contains other well-known objects such as the Great Orion Nebula (M42), the Flame Nebula, and Barnard's Loop. It is one of the nearest and most easily photographed regions in which massive stars are being formed.

In the Hubble image, the backlit wisps along the Horsehead's upper ridge are being illuminated by Sigma Orionis, a young five-star system just out of view. Along the nebula's top ridge, two fledgling stars peek out from their now-exposed nurseries.

Scientists know a harsh ultraviolet glare from one of these bright stars is slowly evaporating the nebula. Gas clouds surrounding the Horsehead already have dissipated, but the tip of the jutting pillar contains a slightly higher density of hydrogen and helium, laced with dust. This casts a shadow that protects material behind it from being stripped away by intense stellar radiation evaporating the hydrogen cloud, and a pillar structure forms.

For image and text see http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2013/12

-- From a Space Telescope Science Institute and NASA press release forwarded by Karen Pollard.

10. Faint Supernova Type Found

Until now, supernovae came in two main types. A core-collapse supernova, Type II, is the explosion of a star about 10 to 100 times as massive as our Sun. A Type Ia supernova is the complete disruption of a tiny white dwarf.

A third class of supernova has now been discovered. Dubbed Type Iax it is fainter and less energetic than Type Ia. Although both varieties come from exploding white dwarfs, Type Iax supernovas may not completely destroy the white dwarf.

Ryan Foley, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and his colleagues identified 25 examples of the new type of supernova. None of them appeared in elliptical galaxies, which are filled with old stars. This suggests that Type Iax supernovas come from young star systems.

Based on a variety of observational data, the team concluded that a Type Iax supernova comes from a binary star system containing a white dwarf and a companion star that has lost its outer hydrogen, leaving it helium dominated. The white dwarf collects helium from the normal star.

Researchers aren't sure what triggers a Type Iax. It's possible that the outer helium layer ignites first, sending a shock wave into the white dwarf. Alternatively, the white dwarf might ignite first due to the influence of the overlying helium shell.

Either way, it appears that in many cases the white dwarf survives the explosion, unlike in a Type Ia supernova where the white dwarf is completely destroyed. "The star will be battered and bruised, but it might live to see another day," says Foley.

Foley calculates that Type Iax supernovas are about a third as common as Type Ia supernovas. The reason so few have been detected is that the faintest are only one-hundredth as bright as a Type Ia. The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope could discover thousands of Type Iax supernovas over its lifetime.

This research has been accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal and is available online [http://arxiv.org/abs/1212.2209].

-- From a Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics press release forwarded by Karen Pollard.

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. 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. R O'Keeffe, 662 Onewhero-Tuakau Bridge Rd, RD 2, TUAKAU 2697

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., R O'Keeffe, 662 Onewhero-Tuakau Bridge Rd, RD 2, TUAKAU 2697

13. How to Join the RASNZ

A membership application form and details can be found on the RASNZ website http://www.rasnz.org.nz/InfoForm/membform.htm. Please note that the weblink to membership forms is case sensitive. Alternatively please send an email to the membership secretary This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for further information.

The annual subscription rate is $75, not including the Yearbook. For overseas rates please check with the membership secretary, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

14. Quotes

"God runs electromagnetics by wave theory on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and the Devil runs them by quantum theory on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday." -- Sir William Bragg.

"Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning." -- Rick Cook.

"There are 10 types of people: those who understand binary numbers and those who don't." -- anonymous.

"When I took office, only high energy physicists had ever heard of what is called the Worldwide Web... Now even my cat has its own page." -- Bill Clinton.

"It is possible to store the mind with a million facts and still be entirely uneducated." -- Alec Bourne.

"A life spent making mistakes is not only more honourable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing." -- George Bernard Shaw.

"People do not decide to become extraordinary. They decide to accomplish extraordinary things." -- Edmund Hillary.


Newsletter editor:

Alan Gilmore   Phone: 03 680 6000
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