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


1. Albert Jones (1920-2013)
2. Condolences from the BAA
3. Beatrice Hill Tinsley Lectures
4. The Solar System in October
5. Starlight Festival 11-13 October
6. NACAA XXVI, Melbourne, 18-21 April 2014
7. RASNZ Conference, Whakatane, 6-8 June 2014
8. Host Sought for the 2016 Conference
9. Ruby Payne-Scott Biography
10. Charles Chilton of "Journey into Space"
11. President Kennedy's Speech 51 Years Ago
12. Historic Space Pictures Online
13. How to Join the RASNZ
14. Quote

1. Albert Jones (1920-2013)

Albert Jones OBE, D.Sc. (Hon), New Zealand's most famous variable star and comet observer, died on September 11 aged 93.

Albert showed an interest in astronomy early in life. Born in 1920 he was by the 1930s making his own telescopes with lenses in rolled paper tubes. Later he bought a 5-inch f/15 Calver reflector and observed anything going, though its tiny finder made it frustrating to use. He later bought a 5-inch refractor with a 30-mm finder that was much easier to handle. Still later he acquired an 8-inch telescope built by J.T. Ward of Whanganui.

Around 1941 Albert saw a bright aurora. He sent a report on it to Murray Geddes at the Cater Observatory. Geddes was impressed by the report's detail and asked Albert to continue sending reports. This friendly encouragement set him on the path to regular observing. In 1941 Geddes nominated Albert for membership of the New Zealand Astronomical Society (NZAS), the forerunner of the RASNZ.

In 1942 Nova Puppis flared to zero magnitude then faded rapidly. A.G.C. Crust published a chart for it in Southern Stars with comparison stars and instructions on how to make estimates. Albert made some estimates and sent them to Crust who published them. These observations, beginning on 18 January 1943, are the first by Albert recorded in variable star archives.

Albert then approached Frank Bateson, Director of the NZAS's Variable Star Section (VSS), to see if there were more variable stars he could observe. Frank sent him several charts. Like most of us starting variable star observing, it took Albert some time to relate what was on the charts to what was seen through the telescope; but not for long. Albert sent his first variable star estimates to the VSS in January 1943.

Albert asked Bateson if there were more stars needing observation. Bateson sent him huge pile of charts. This interaction continued for several decades: Albert making the observations; Frank Bateson collating them with other observer's results and publishing. The VSS produced dozens of special studies of variables authored by Bateson and Jones. Annual reports of the VSS regularly show Jones contributing many thousands of observations each year; up to 13,000 in a really good year.

Albert developed a particular interest in stars that behave in sudden erratic ways. Carbon-rich R Coronae Borealis variable stars suddenly fade as they puff off clouds of soot. Others, called dwarf novae, suddenly brighten. Professional astronomers are really keen to get observations of these stars when they are doing their unusual thing. Albert's diligence was invaluable in allowing spectra and other observations to be made at these critical moments.

Not only did Albert produce a huge volume of observations but the precision of his work was unmatched. When compared with electronic photometric results, Albert's estimates were within 10%. For most of us estimating a brightness to around 30% is the best we can do.

Albert never took a great interest in the volume of data he produced. Others have counted it up. Wikipedia notes that in 1963 he became the sixth astronomer in history to make 100,000 observations of variable stars. By 2004 he made more than 500,000 observations, a milestone, which nobody else had reached before. The American Association of Variable Star Observer's (AAVSO) International Database contains 464,000 of Albert's observations with more being added as they are located.

Albert joined the Comet Section of the NZAS in 1945 and took up comet searching. Ironically it was while observing variable stars that he found his first comet, now designated C/1946 P1. Albert joined the British Astronomical Association (BAA) in 1945 and became Assistant Director of their Comet Section from 1952 to 1990. For his work in estimating comet magnitudes the BAA awarded him the Merlin Silver Medal and Prize in 1968. He was also admitted to Fellowship of the Royal Astronomical Society (London) in 1947.

In 1948 Albert bought a 12-inch mirror from the U.K. firm of Hargreaves. This was delivered to NZ by Dr Leslie Comrie and his wife Betty when on a visit. In gratitude for their assistance Albert called his home-made telescope 'Lesbet'. The larger telescope enabled Albert to observe fainter variable stars and comets. He did, however, keep several smaller telescopes, even opera glasses, for brighter variable stars.

Albert discovered the brightening of several recurrent novae, stars that flare over a large brightness range at intervals of decades. In 1987 he was an independent discoverer of supernova 1987A in the Large Magellanic Cloud, the first naked-eye supernova since 1604.

History was repeated on 25 November 2000 Albert found his second comet. Like the first it was in the course of variable star observing. Albert was trying to get an observation of a variable in the dawn twilight. In moving to the star he saw a fuzzy blob where no such object was known. It turned out to be re-discovery of a fast-moving comet briefly seen by Japanese amateur Syogo Utsunomiya on November 18 by but lost before follow-up observations were possible. Comet Utsunomiya-Jones C/2000 W1, as it is now designated was heading toward the sun, rounding it a month after discovery. The co- discovery gave Albert two distinctions. At 80 he was the oldest person ever to find a comet. He also holds the record, 54 years, for the longest interval between successive comet discoveries by one observer. Sometime later his co-discoverer visited Albert and Carolyn in Nelson.

Albert continued his variable star observing for as long as possible. Solidly-constructed "Lesbet" was proving too heavy for him to move out of its shed so was taken for the Archives of the Nelson Museum in March 2012. Albert continued observing with a lighter 12-inch Dobsonian from Astronz. It had castors for easy moving and a special finder bracket helpfully added by Nelson friends. The last observation by Albert in the AAVSO records was of V766 Centauri on 31 August 2011 - a span of nearly 70 years in observing.

One cannot review Albert's astronomical achievements without paying a tribute to the love and support he received from Carolyn, his wife of 29 years. Albert often called Carolyn 'his greatest discovery'. It was in recognition of Carolyn's encouragement of his work that the Murray Geddes Prize was jointly awarded to them in 2005. It was 60 years on from Albert being awarded the first ever Murray Geddes Prize in 1945. Carolyn's contribution was also recognised in the naming asteroid (9171) Carolyndiane by E.W. Elst in 2003.

The following list of honours and awards is not exhaustive but gives some idea of Albert's national and international standing over his lifetime. 1945 Murray Geddes Prize, the first awarded.

  • 1947 Donohoe Comet Medal of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.
  • 1949 Donovan Medal and Prize by the Donovan Astronomical Trust (NSW).
  • 1956 Michaelis Gold Medal and prize from the University of Otago.
  • 1960 Jackson-Gwilt Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society, jointly with Frank Bateson.
  • 1963 Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society of NZ. (Among the first four to be made Fellows.)
  • 1965 Made Member of the International Astronomical Union.
  • 1973 Comet Medal of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.
  • 1987 Order of the British Empire (OBE) "For services to astronomy".
  • 1987 Nelson City Council's Certificate of Achievement.
  • 1988 Minor Planet (3152) Jones named in his honour.
  • 1998 Edward A. Halbach Amateur Achievement Award of Astronomical Society of the Pacific
  • 2001 Edgar Wilson Award for a comet discovery by an amateur.
  • 2004 Honorary degree of the Doctor of Science from the Victoria University of Wellington.
  • 2005 Murray Geddes prize, jointly with Carolyn.
  • 2011 AAVSO Honorary Life Membership award. Albert was only the 40th recipient of this honour. See the full list at AAVSO director Arne Henden notes that Albert has also been the recipient of the AAVSO Merit Award and the Director's Award, along with every Visual Observer's Award that the AAVSO offers.

Albert is featured on the AAVSO's webpage at

Much of the above summary was extracted and updated from an article by Rod Austin in 'Southern Stars' 1994 December.

Albert's funeral was attended by a wide range of Nelson friends and many from the astronomical community.

Gordon Hudson, RASNZ President, spoke on the Society's behalf. He also noted that Albert was an Honorary Research Associate of the Carter Observatory. Several astronomical friends spoke of Albert's work and the help they had received from him over many years. Brian Loader read a message from John Toone of the BAA.

Friends from the local tramping club recalled Albert's happy helpful and humble nature. It was on a tramping trip that he met Carolyn. The local University for the Third Age (U3A) valued Albert's talks on astronomical topics. Albert, despite his years, was an enthusiastic computer user who helped others and was helped in return.

The editor owes a particular debt to Albert. Back in 1959 Albert mentored me when I was starting variable star observing. He lived in Timaru then; I was in Lower Hutt. Frank Bateson, VSS director, lived in Raratonga at the time. Many letters were exchanged, Albert being a prompt and assiduous correspondent. Later he encouraged me to try comet observing. That observational work led to employment on the site-testing programme for what became Mt John Observatory. Later, with much good luck, it led to a lifetime's employment in astronomy.

2. Condolences from the BAA

John Toone of the British Astronomical Association sent the following message to Brian Loader:

I have just heard the very sad news with respect to Albert Jones. His loss is felt heavily all around the world and it is truly a dark time for variable star astronomy.

I would like to express my sincere condolences to Carolyn and Albert's extended family in particular and also to yourself and the RASNZ.

I will treasure forever the memories of the 2004 Tauranga meeting where I had the opportunity to meet both Frank and Albert, two legends of variable star lore. The gasps from the audience are still fresh in my mind when Albert said that his greatest discovery was Carolyn!!

It is only by physically meeting that you get a true character understanding and in the case of Albert I cannot honestly think of ever meeting a nicer person. Both Irene and I are feeling sad and empty at the moment, no doubt it's the same for many people in NZ at the moment.

Albert will never be forgotten either as a unique & outstanding VS observer or equally as an exemplary & humble member of human society.

With our deepest sympathy John & Irene

John sent a second message; in part:

The timing of the funeral coincides with what is forecast to be clear night in the UK. Therefore we are planning to mobilise as many BAA members as possible to undertake visual observations of Nova Del around the time of the funeral in honour of Albert. You are quite at liberty to mention this if it seems appropriate at the funeral.

In addition to observing Nova Del I intend to stop my observing for a minutes silence at 23hr UT. Our thoughts are very much with you at this sad time.

3. Beatrice Hill Tinsley Lectures

The lecture "A Zoo of Galaxies' will be given by Dr Karen Masters at the following places:

New Plymouth, Friday October 4th, at 7:30pm New Plymouth Girls High School Main Hall

Wellington, Saturday October 5th at 6:30pm (by ticket only) Carter Observatory

Nelson, Monday October 7th at 7:30pm Lecture Theatre A211, Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT),

Dunedin, Wednesday October 9th at 7:00pm Hutton Lecture Theatre, Otago Museum

More information at For background see lecture-at-uc.htm

-- Bob Evans, Secretary/Treasurer, RASNZ Lecture Trust Inc. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

4. The Solar System in October

All dates and times are NZDT (UT + 13 hours) unless otherwise specified.

Phases of the moon (times as shown by guide)

New moon:      October  5 at  1.35 pm (00:35 UT        )
First quarter: October 12 at 12.02 pm (Oct 11, 23:02 UT)
Full moon:     October 19 at 12.38 pm (Oct 18, 23:38 UT)
Last quarter   October 27 at 12.41 pm (Oct 27, 23:41 UT)

The planets in october

Mercury remains an easy early evening object during the first part of October. It moves up past Saturn early in the month. By the end of October both planets will be lost in the evening twilight. Venus is well above them and sets after midnight in the second part of October.

In the morning Jupiter emerges further from the Sun to rise about 2 am NZDT but will still be fairly low as seen from mid southern hemisphere latitudes. Mars remains low in the dawn sky as it only slowly distances itself from the Sun.

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

Mercury sets more than 2 hours after the Sun during the first half of October, so will be easily visible to the west as the sky darkens following sunset. At magnitude 0 it will be a little brighter than Saturn. On the 9th it is at its greatest elongation, 25° east of the Sun. It will remain an easy early evening object until it is stationary on the 21st after which Mercury will move quite rapidly back towards the Sun and become lost to view before the end of the month.

Saturn is also visible as an early evening object during most of October. It starts the month a few degrees to the upper right of Mercury, being nearly 20° above the horizon to the west about 45 minutes after sunset.

As Mercury moves away from the Sun, the distance between the two planets gets less. When the two are closest, Mercury will be less than 5° from Saturn. The best conjunction of the month occurs on the evening of October 7 with the two planets almost level and, as a bonus, the crescent moon, only 6% lit, 2° above Saturn.

By the end of October, both Mercury and Saturn set only half an hour after the Sun, on the last day of the month they are again in conjunction with Mercury a few degrees to the left of Saturn. But of course they are quite unobservable due to their proximity to the Sun.

Venus meanwhile will be visible virtually all evening. During the second half of October it will set shortly after midnight (NZDT). The moon is closest to Venus on October 8, when our 12.5% lit satellite will be 6° to the lower right of the planet. The following night the 21% lit moon is nearly 11° to the upper right of Venus.

Venus itself passes Antares a little later in the month, the two are 1.6° apart on the evening of the 17th.

Jupiter and MARS in the morning sky.

Jupiter moves further into the morning sky during October but remains rather low. On the 31st it rises close to 2 am, more than 4 hours before the Sun. The planet will remain fairly low in southern skies. By the end of the month and 30 minutes before sunrise, Jupiter will be less than 30° above the horizon for most places in NZ. It will then be only a few degrees to the east of north.

The planet will be in Gemini and lie some 6.5 arc-minutes below the 3.5 magnitude star del-Gem on the morning of the 5th. In Gemini, Jupiter is a few degrees above Pollux. On the 26th, the 62% lit moon is 5° above Jupiter.

Mars is moving away from the Sun a lot less rapidly than Jupiter. Mars rises just over an hour earlier at the end of October compared to the beginning, of the month. But the Sun also rises more than three-quarters of an hour earlier. That is, Mars only gains some 25 minutes on the Sun during the month. As a result it will remain fairly low, some 14° above the horizon as seen from Wellington, 45 minutes before sunrise.

Mars is in Leo during October, moving from west to east past Regulus during the month. At their closest on the 15th, Mars is within 1° of the star. Regulus is slightly brighter at 1.4 compared to Mars at 1.6. And of course the two are very different in colour.

The moon passes Mars twice in October. On the morning of the 1st the moon, less than 19% lit, will be some than 7° above Mars. On the 30th the 25% lit moon is 5.5° above the planet. The increased amount of the moon lit reflects the slowly increasing elongation of Mars from the Sun.

Outer planets

Uranus is at opposition on October 3 with a magnitude 5.7 The planet is in Pisces close to the constellation´s border with Cetus.

Neptune remains in Aquarius during October, magnitude 7.9. By the end of October it transits, and so is highest, about 9 pm.

Brighter asteroids:

(1) Ceres and (4) both remain as low objects in the dawn sky, magnitudes about 8.7 and 8.3 respectively. The two asteroids are about 7° apart with Vesta to the upper left of Ceres as seen in the morning sky. They are to the lower right of Mars.

The two asteroids start the month in Leo but moves into Virgo during October, Ceres on the 17th and Vesta on the 28th.

(2) Pallas is in Hydra and brightens slightly during October from 9.0 to 8.8. It rises just after 2 am early in October, and just before 1 am by the month´s end. It will then be 8° above alpha Hya, mag 2.0, as seen an hour or so before sunrise.

(7) Iris is in Aquarius and fades a little during October from magnitude 8.8 to 9.3. It is an evening object and transits about 9.45 pm on the 1st and 8 pm on the 31st.

(20) Massalia is at opposition on the last day of October, when it brightens to magnitude 8.8. The asteroid is in Aries; on the 31st it will be about 10° to the upper right of the second manitude star Hamal, alpha Ari.

(324) Bamberga starts October at magnitude 8.6 but fades during the month to 9.4. It is an evening object with a transit about 11.30 pm on the 1st and 2 hours earlier on the 31st. The asteroid starts the month in Pisces close to the southern most corner of the constellation in Pegasus. Bamberga loops into Pegasus on the 9th.

-- Brian Loader

5. Starlight Festival 11-13 October

The Aoraki Mackenzie Starlight Festival will take place 11-13 October 2013 in Tekapo, and will celebrate the creation of the southern hemisphere´s first International Dark Sky Reserve, in the Mackenzie Basin and at Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park in the centre of New Zealand´s South Island.

The Festival will be a celebration of dark skies and astronomy, and include a mix of cultural, educational and scientific activities to engage the community at the level of families and young people. It will promote awareness of the stars and the dark sky above and a range of hands-on activities for everyone will be put on. The main themes will be education and learning about stars, space and the environment.

The principal guest at the festival will be veteran NASA astronaut Marsha Ivins, who has flown into space five times on the Space Shuttle, including one trip to the International Space Station.

In addition there will be a public astronomy talk by astronomer Dr Karen Masters, suitable for school students and those wanting to learn more about stars and galaxies.

Winners of the Starlight Essay and Poetry Competition have been announced at . The competition commemorates the name of children´s writer, the late Margaret Mahy, who was also a keen amateur astronomer. Also the Christchurch Youth Orchestra will perform a `Symphony Under the Stars´ at the Festival.

There will be ample opportunity for starwatching at the Festival which will be conducted with the support of Earth and Sky Ltd at Mt John and Cowan´s Hill observatories.

The Tekapo Community Hall will be the main venue for the festival, but some events will be at other local venues, including the Godley Hotel, the Tekapo Springs Ice Rink and Spa, Cowans Hill Observatory and Mt John University Observatory.

The programme for the First Aoraki Mackenzie Starlight Festival can be found on the Festival website at .

We are expecting wide community support for the Starlight Festival from throughout the Canterbury region, including from Christchurch and Timaru, with additional participants coming from throughout New Zealand. Visit the festival website to purchase tickets for all events. Some events are free, others have a nominal charge.

For more information contact: Sharlene Mullen at the University of Canterbury (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

6. NACAA XXVI, Melbourne, 18-21 April 2014

The National Australian Convention of Amateur Astronomers (NACAA) is in Melbourne in Easter 2014, 18-21 April.

NACAA aims to bring together amateur (and not-so-amateur) astronomers from Australia, New Zealand, and beyond to share in learning, disseminating and planning cutting-edge astronomical work in the region. We always plan to have a full weekend, Friday to Monday, of various streams of presentations covering a great width of astronomical work including observing, instrumentation, education, research, history and local activities.

The core of the convention is of course its presentations, and we are asking you to consider making a contribution, by yourself or in a group. There are no restrictions on topics or themes, so long as the contribution is significant and interesting. Here are a few suggestions:

An address or poster: on an observational (or desk-bound) research programme you are involved in; on a significant development in instrumentation and tools: optical, computational, imaging, electronic, whatever; on your progress with a significant project or programme, national or worldwide; to share your imaging successes with an appreciative audience; an entertaining address aimed at promoting the enjoyment of astronomy; on a significant club or local activity; or on an interesting piece of astronomical history.

A workshop, symposium, colloquium, or round-table meeting: on an observing or research technique you use; helping amateurs move to a more advanced level of astronomical activity in research, imaging, observing, etc; with likeminded specialists to discuss or plan your field; on an educational or outreach activity;

You can submit a proposal for consideration by the Programme Committee by completing the form on the NACAA website The full submissions guidelines can be obtained from You may make multiple submissions. Submissions should be made before: 2013 October 1 for workshops, colloquia, or symposia; 2013 November 1 for oral presentations or round- tables; 2014 March 1 for posters. Late submissions may be accepted, depending on venue restrictions, scheduling, etc.

For further information contact the Programme Committee or the General Secretary via the NACAA web site .

-- Abridged from a message circulated by Alan Plummer, Programme Chair, NACAA 2014.

7. RASNZ Conference, Whakatane, 6-8 June 2014

The 2014 conference is being hosted by the Whakatane Astronomical Society to mark their 50th year. The dates are Friday 6 June to Sunday 8 June. It will be followed by a one day Variable Star South Symposium. The conference venue is the Whakatane War Memorial Hall with the Symposium being held at the near- by East Bay REAP facility in O´Rourke Place.

While there is no accommodation at the conference venue itself, there are motels within a few minute´s walk of it. Details of available accommodation will be included in the conference brochure which will be included in the mail-out of the December issue of Southern Stars.

The guest speaker at the 2014 conference will be Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell who made the first observations of a Pulsar in 1967. Certainly a guest speaker not to be missed.

The fellows´ speaker for 2014 is Phil Yock of Auckland University. His chosen topic is "from Particles to Planets".

Further details of the conference will appear on the RASNZ web-site and in the brochure. Registration forms and submission to present papers will be on the RASNZ WIKI soon. Meanwhile the SCC would encourage all those active in astronomy to consider presenting a paper at the 2014 conference. Now is the time to start preparing. Each section should endeavour to ensure at least one of their members gives a talk about some aspect of the section´s work.

-- Brian Loader, chairman of the Standing Conference Committee.

8. Host Sought for the 2016 Conference

The RASNZ Standing Conference Committee (SCC) would like to receive expressions of interest from affiliated societies to host the 2016 RASNZ conference. The most likely date for the conference would be during May 2016.

Any society interested in acting as a host can obtain an outline of the requirements of host societies by sending an email to the SCC at <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>. The closing date for applications to be received from intending hosts is the last day of November 2013. So interested societies should make an initial contact as soon as possible.

The final decision as to the society to be appointed to host the 2016 conference will be made by the RASNZ Council.

-- Brian Loader, chairman of the Standing Conference Committee.

9. Ruby Payne-Scott Biography

A new popular level book 'Making Waves - The Story of Ruby Payne-Scott: Australian Pioneer Radio Astronomer', has been published by Astronomical Society of Australia (ASA) member Miller Goss. Payne-Scott is regarded as the first female radio astronomer (and one of the first people in the world to consider radio astronomy) and made classic contributions to solar radio physics. She also played a major role in the design of the Australian government's Council for Scientific and Industrial Research radars, which were in turn of vital importance in the Southwest Pacific Theatre in World War II. From a sociological perspective, her career offers many examples of the perils of being a female academic in the first half of the 20th century.

This book is an abbreviated, partly re-written version of 'Under the Radar - The First Woman in Radio Astronomy: Ruby Payne-Scott', also by Miller. In contrast to the original, the new book has a reasonable price of about US $37!

There is a Springer web site about the book ( and a digital copy can be found at and bought on-line (or some libraries may provide access).

-- John O'Byrne, Secretary of the ASA, in a note circulated to members.

10. Charles Chilton of "Journey into Space"

The words "Written and Produced for the BBC by Charles Chilton" may recall a memory for people who were around in the 1950s. These words ended a half hour BBC programme on the YAs around 9 pm; this was half an hour of drama, eerie sounding music and suspense that would literally cause the hairs on the back of the neck "to stand on end". The programme was "Journey into Space". Listening to the "Journey into Space" series on a crystal set and later "Hikers one", in the dark, I was able to dream of space flight, be taken to the moon, the distant planet Mars and land on asteroids. I felt I was part of the crew of Jet, Mitch, Doc and Lemmy. Like many others, this radio drama influenced my interest in and enjoyment of space and astronomy continuing to this day.

For years I have wondered "Who was Charles Chilton?" Recently I happened to look up his name on Wikipedia and found that Charles had published an autobiography called "Auntie´s Charlie". I´m only part way through this absorbing read but I felt it timely to mention the book in this newsletter so others may wish to obtain a copy. (Or borrow from a library) The autobiography was published in 2011 and I am not sure for how long it will be available. I obtained my copy of "Auntie´s Charlie", Charles Chilton´s absorbing autobiography, from "Fishpond".

The "Journey into Space" Series can still be heard occasionally re-broadcast on BBC digital sites and is available from the BBC on CD as well as in book form.

Charles packed an extraordinary amount into his 95 years and brought much enjoyment to many listeners. Sadly, Charles Chilton, MBE, passed away on 2 January 2013.

-- Alan Thomas

11. President Kennedy's Speech 51 Years Ago

And, while on a nostalgia trail, Ian Jordan sent this note on September 12.

Below is a link to a NASA site containing text and movie versions of President Kennedy's speech at Rice stadium 51 years ago today. The most commonly shown segment is a little over half way through. If you have never seen nor read the entire speech, and if that one segment has ever sparked a thrill in you, the rest is worth a watch or a read. If it is familiar and one of your favourites, today is an appropriate day to reflect on it.

Pursuing positive, difficult goals can be enriching nearly beyond measure.

12. Historic Space Pictures Online

Part of a historic archive of space images, including Soviet photos of the surface of Venus, hand-assembled mosaics of Jupiter's moons, and an incredibly detailed map of the Moon, has been published online by University College London (UCL). The rare photos and maps, many of which have never been available online until now, have been published as part of the Festival of the Planets which ran 8-13 September in London. The images are all available in high resolution at

UCL has a large archive of historical space photos from NASA and other agencies. Before the internet became a major tool for sharing scientific data, NASA shipped hard copies of its photos, and UCL was one of only seven institutions outside of the United States to receive them. The university's planetary science archives have been further enriched over the years thanks to the research interests of its astronomers.

This treasure trove of pictures gives a fascinating glimpse into the history of the space age, and many of the pictures are of remarkably good quality.

Highlights include: * The first mosaicked images to come back from the Voyager probes when they visited the moons of Jupiter in the 1970s. * Pictures of the surface of Venus, taken by Soviet landers in the 1980s. * An incredibly detailed map of the Moon, made by a British astronomer more than a century ago -- now available as a huge 400 megapixel scan.

-- from a University College London press release forwarded by Karen Pollard.

13. How to Join the RASNZ

A membership application form and details can be found on the RASNZ website 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. Quote

"It is the dull man who is always sure, and the sure man who is always dull." -- H. L. Menken.

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