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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. First Direct Evidence of Cosmic Inflation
2. Pickering Lectures 2014
3. The Solar System in April
4. NACAA and TTSO8, Melbourne, April 18-21
5. RASNZ Conference - Call for Papers
6. Stardate SI Report
7. More Kepler Planets confirmed
8. Marsden Fund celebrates 20 years
9. HST Sees LMC spin
10. Bright Lunar Impact Videoed
11. Blink Microscope Available
12. How to Join the RASNZ
13. Gifford-Eiby Lecture Fund
14. Kingdon-Tomlinson Fund

1. First Direct Evidence of Cosmic Inflation

Almost 14 billion years ago, the universe we inhabit burst into existence in an extraordinary event that initiated the Big Bang. In the first fleeting fraction of a second, the universe expanded exponentially, stretching far beyond the view of our best telescopes. All this, of course, was just theory.

On March 17 researchers from the BICEP2 collaboration announced the first direct evidence for this cosmic inflation. Their data also represent the first images of gravitational waves, or ripples in space-time. These waves have been described as the "first tremors of the Big Bang." The observations confirm a deep connection between quantum mechanics and general relativity.

These groundbreaking results came from observations by the BICEP2 telescope of the cosmic microwave background -- a faint glow left over from the Big Bang. Tiny fluctuations in this afterglow provide clues to conditions in the early universe. For example, small differences in temperature across the sky show where parts of the universe were denser, eventually condensing into galaxies and galactic clusters.

Since the cosmic microwave background is a form of light, it exhibits all the properties of light, including polarization. On Earth, sunlight is scattered by the atmosphere and becomes polarized, which is why polarized sunglasses help reduce glare. In space, the cosmic microwave background was scattered by atoms and electrons and became polarized too.

The researchers team hunted for a special type of polarization called B-modes which represents a twisting or curl pattern in the polarized orientations of the ancient light.

Gravitational waves squeeze space as they travel, and this squeezing produces a distinct pattern in the cosmic microwave background. Gravitational waves have a 'handedness', much like light waves, and can have left- and right-handed polarizations.

The team examined spatial scales on the sky spanning about one to five degrees (two to ten times the width of the full Moon). To do this, they set up the BICEP2 telescope at the South Pole to take advantage of its cold, dry, stable air.

They were surprised to detect a B-mode polarization signal considerably stronger than many cosmologists expected. The team analyzed their data for more than three years in an effort to rule out any errors. They also considered whether dust in our galaxy could produce the observed pattern, but the data suggests this is highly unlikely.

BICEP2 is the second stage of a coordinated program, the BICEP and Keck Array experiments. The four Principle Investigators are from Harvard, the University of Minnesota, Caltech/JPL and Stanford/SLAC. All have worked together on the present result along with teams of students and scientists. Other major collaborating institutions for BICEP2 include the University of California at San Diego, the University of British Columbia, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the University of Toronto, Cardiff University, and Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique.

Technical details and journal papers can be found on the BICEP2 release website: http://bicepkeck.org

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

For more background on the Cosmic Microwave Background, Larry Marschall recommends http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2014/03/16/gravitational-waves-in-the-cosmic-microwave-background/

2. Pickering Lectures 2014

Pickering Lecture 2014: Exploring the Unknown - to Mars and Beyond

The Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ) invites you, your membership and friends to attend a presentation by NASA space explorer Dr Charles Elachi.

Dr Elachi is a space explorer who led the recent mission to Mars with a rover called Curiosity. As this year's Pickering Lecture speaker, he will tour New Zealand giving free public lectures on space exploration and his role as Director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The self-confessed space junkie will present in the following locations: Wellington, 6.30pm 24 March - Shed 6, Queens Wharf, Wellington. Christchurch, 6.30pm 25 March - Aurora Centre, Burnside High School, 151 Greers Road, Burnside, Christchurch. Hamilton, 6.30pm 26 March - Hamilton Gardens Pavilion, Hungerford Crescent (off Cobham Drive), SH1, Hamilton. Auckland, 6.30pm 27 March - Dorothy Winstone Centre, Auckland Girls Grammar School, 16 Howe Street, Newton, Auckland.

Free entry. No registration required. The lecture starts at 6.30pm sharp and lasts one hour.

Hear behind the scenes stories about how NASA landed on Mars. The internationally-recognised space expert is excited to share his work developing robotics and other high-tech devices to explore the unknown worlds of our solar system. Following JPL's successful mission to Mars in 2012, when Curiosity made a near impossible landing on our sister planet, he has many behind-the-scenes stories to share.

-- Dr Andrew Cleland, Chief Executive, The Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ)

For details see http://www.ipenz.org.nz/IPENZ/Events_and_Awards/Pickering_Public_Lecture_Series/2014_-_To_Mars_and_Beyond.cfm

3. The Solar System in April

All dates and times are NZDT (UT + 13 hours) until April 6. After this date, times are NZST. (UT +12 hours) unless otherwise specified. Rise and set times are for Wellington. They will vary by a few minutes elsewhere in NZ.

NZDT comes to an end on Sunday April 6 at 3 am when clocks should be set back an hour to NZST. New Zealand time will then be 12 hours ahead of UTC.

Sunrise at Wellington ranges from 7.33 am NZDT on April 1 to 7.04 am NZST on April 30, while Sunset ranges from 7.15 pm NZDT on the 1st to 5.31 pm on the 31st.

Phases of the moon (times as shown by guide)

First quarter: April  7 at  8.31 pm (08:31 UT              )
Full moon:     April 15 at  7.42 pm (07:42 UT total eclipse)
Last quarter   April 22 at  7.52 pm (07:52 UT              )
New moon:      April 29 at  6.14 pm (06:14 UT              )

A TOTAL ECLIPSE of the moon occurs at the full moon on April 15. The total phase of the eclipse starts at 7.06 pm and ends at 8.25 pm. All the total phase is visible from NZ. At the start the moon will be fairly low for NZ.

The moon starts to enter the umbra of the Earth´s shadow at 5.58 pm. This is just a few minutes after moonrise for most places in NZ, but 1 minute before moonrise at Invercargill. The moon leaves the umbra at 9.33 pm and the penumbra at 10.38pm. Times are taken from Dave Herald´s OCCULT program.)

This total eclipse is the first of 4 successive total lunar eclipses, two each in 2014 and 2015. The first 3 will be visible from New Zealand.

A PARTIAL ECLIPSE of the Sun occurs on April 29. No part of the eclipse is visible from NZ. From Australia the eclipse occurs in the afternoon, with the Sun setting during the eclipse in eastern Australia. For Brisbane and Newcastle the Sun sets just before maximum eclipse.

From the south of Australia about two-thirds of the Sun is hidden, the maximum is 68% at Hobart. The amount of the Sun hidden drops to just below 10% in the north at Darwin.

The planets in april

Mars is at opposition on April 8 so will be at its brightest during April and visible in the evening sky. Jupiter is in the evening sky, and will set mid evening by the end of April. Saturn is visible late evening at first, most of the evening by the end of the month. It is also visible in the morning sky.

Venus is an obvious morning object rising nearly 4 hours before the Sun. Mercury is visible in the morning sky early in the month, but is lost to view by about mid April.

Mercury is readily visible in the early dawn sky for the first part of April. On the first it rises about 2 hours before the Sun and has a magnitude -0.2. It will be about 10° up almost due east 50 minutes before sunrise. Over the following nights the planet will gradually rise later so be lower in the morning sky. But it will also brighten making it a little easier to see.

By mid April Mercury will rise only one hour before the Sun, so will be very low and lost to view about this date.

Mercury is at superior conjunction with the Sun on the 26th, marking its return to the evening sky. At conjunction the planet will be 198.6 million km from the Earth (1.3AU) and 48 million km beyond the Sun (0.32 AU). From the Earth it will appear to pass the Sun only 6 arc-minutes from the southern limb of the Sun (about 1-5th of the Sun´s diameter).

Venus remains prominent in the morning sky until shortly before sunrise. Venus rises about 3 hours 50 minutes before the Sun at the beginning of April, and 3 hours 40 minutes earlier at the end of the month.

During April Venus crosses the constellation Aquarius, which it moves into from Capricornus on the 4th and leaves on the 29th when it moves into Pisces. The 14% lit crescent moon is 4.5° to the left of Venus on the 26th. Earlier in the month, on the morning of April 12, Venus will be 47 arc-minutes from Neptune, a distance about 1.5 times the diameter of the full moon.

Mars is at opposition on April 8 with a magnitude -1.5, so a bright object, rising close to the time of Sunset. By late evening it will be a prominent object just a few degrees from Spica. At opposition the planet will be 93 million km, 0.62 AU, from the Earth. Due to the elliptical nature of the Martian orbit, Mars is closest to the Earth a few days later on the 14th when it will be 92.4 million km from us. On the 14th the angular diameter of Mars will be 15.15 arc-seconds, on the 8th it is 15.07".

Also on the 14th, the almost full Moon will, as seen from the Earth, be some 4° from Mars. Despite the brightness of the Moon, Mars should still be visible.

Throughout April Mars is in Virgo a few degrees from Spica. It will also be about 12° from the two largest asteroids, Ceres and Vesta.

Jupiter will be easily seen, if rather low, early in April evenings. At first it sets just after midnight, NZDT. By the end of April it will set about 9.30 pm. Jupiter is currently well north of the celestial equator, so low in southern skies. Hence, particularly late in April, the planet will be low quite early in the evening.

Jupiter is in Gemini all month just over 2° from the 3.0 magnitude star epsilon Gem. The moon passes Jupiter quite early in the month. On the 6th the 40% lit moon will be 8° to the left of Jupiter. The following night, the moon at first quarter will be slightly closer to Jupiter, 7° away and almost directly above the planet.

Saturn rises about 9.00 pm on April 1, and 6.00 pm on the 30th. Hence it will be best seen late in the evening, especially early in the month. Unlike Jupiter, Saturn is well south of the celestial equator so rises to a good altitude as seen from southern latitudes.

The planet is at present in Libra, forming a triangle with the two brightest stars of the constellation, the double star alpha Lib and beta Lib. Beta is in fact very slightly brighter than alpha.

On the 17th, two days after full moon and the eclipse, the moon will be close to Saturn. When the two rise ca 7.15 pm, they will be about 30 arc-minutes apart, one moon diameter. A couple of hours later when at a reasonable altitude, the separation of the two will have increased to 1.5°, 3 lunar diameters.

Earlier, before the moon rises in NZ, it will occult Saturn. This occultation is visible from a broad band across the south Pacific before crossing the southern part of South America.

Outer planets

Uranus is at conjunction with the Sun on April 2, so will be too close to the Sun to observe. After conjunction it moves into the morning sky, rising shortly before the Sun. By the end of April, Uranus will rise just over 2 hours before the Sun and be 11° up an hour before sunrise. It will also be 11° below and to the right of Venus.

Neptune is also in the morning sky but considerably higher than Uranus. On the 1st it will be about 11° below Venus. On the morning of the 12th Venus will be 47 arc-minutes, 1.5 lunar diameters, to the left of Neptune. At magnitude 7.9, the latter should be visible through a binocular. There will be a 6.6 magnitude 10 arc minutes from Neptune at about the 7 o´clock position compared to the planet.

Brighter asteroids:

(1) Ceres and (4) Vesta continue to be a close pair of asteroids throughout April. The two are about 2.5° apart in Virgo so easily in the same binocular field. The two asteroids are about 12° from Mars and slightly further from Spica. In the evening they will below the planet and star. Following the opposition of Mars on the 9th, the asteroids are at opposition and so brightest just after mid April. Vesta is then at magnitude 5.8 and Ceres 7.0. At the beginning and end of April they are each 0.2 magnitudes fainter.

(2) Pallas starts April at magnitude 7.7 and ends the month at 8.4. Pallas is in the evening sky, with a transit at 10.20 pm on the 1st and 7.42 pm on the 30th. The asteroid starts April in Hydra, but moves into Leo on the 9th where its path through the stars swings Pallas towards Regulus. The two are a little under 4° apart on the 30th.

-- Brian Loader

4. NACAA and TTSO8, Melbourne, April 18-21

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.

If you would like to be emailed details then go to http://www.nacaa.org.au/2014/interested and sign up for info as it comes available.


The Eighth Trans-Tasman Symposium on Occultations (TTSO8) will be held over Easter 2014, in conjunction with the 26th National Australian Convention of Amateur Astronomers (NACAA) which will be held in Melbourne, Australia, hosted by the Astronomical Society of Victoria. More information on the NACAA meeting is available on its website: http://www.nacaa.org.au/

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

Call for Papers:

Dear Friends, Colleagues,

It is a pleasure to announce that the Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand conference 2014 will be held in Whakatane, 6-8 June at the Whakatane War Memorial Hall.

For further information on the conference and registration please visit the website at www.rasnz.org.nz <http://www.rasnz.org.nz>

The RASNZ standing conference committee sincerely invites and encourages anyone interested in New Zealand Astronomy to submit papers, with titles and Abstracts due *1st May*. The link to the paper submission form can be found on the RASNZ website www.rasnz.org.nz <http://www.rasnz.org.nz>, or you can go to the RASNZ wiki www.rasnz.org.nz/wiki <http://www.rasnz.org.nz/wiki>. Even if you are just thinking of presenting a paper please submit the form, and we can follow up with you at a later date.

On the Monday 9th June, following Conference there will be an Variable Star South Workshop at the Whakatane REAP Centre.

Our guest speaker is Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, DBE, FRS, FRAS who will speak about "Transient astronomy - bursts, bangs and things that go bump in the night".

The Fellows Lecture for 2014 will be delivered by Professor Phil Yock speaking on "From Particles to Planets".

We look forward to receiving your submission and seeing you at conference.

Please feel free to forward this message to anyone who may find this of interest.

-- Dr Orlon Petterson, RASNZ Standing Conference Committee

6. Stardate SI Report

Euan Mason writes:

We had a great Stardate celebration at Staveley last weekend, with -50 attendees, and George Ionas as our special guest. We enjoyed plenty of daytime and night time observing, some great talks, and good company. I haven't seen such a large number of solar scopes in one place before. Thanks to George for his special contributions to the event and to the Gifford-Eiby fund for his airfares. Thanks also to all the attendees.

Next on the agenda is the Herbert Star Party in August, followed by Raincliffs in September.

7. More Kepler Planets Confirmed

In February NASA's Kepler mission announced the discovery of 715 new exoplanets, planets outside our solar system. These newly-verified worlds orbit 305 stars, revealing multiple-planet systems much like our own solar system.

Nearly 95 percent of these planets are smaller than Neptune, which is four times the diameter of Earth and 17 times Earth's mass. This discovery marks a significant increase in the number of known small-sized planets more akin to Earth than previously identified exoplanets.

Since the discovery of the first planets outside our solar system roughly two decades ago, verification has been a laborious planet-by-planet process. Now, scientists have a statistical technique that can be applied to many planets at once when they are found in systems that harbour more than one planet around the same star.

To verify this bounty of planets, a research team co-led by Jack Lissauer, planetary scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., analyzed stars with more than one potential planet, all of which were detected in the first two years of Kepler's observations -- May 2009 to March 2011.

The research team used a technique called verification by multiplicity, which relies in part on the logic of probability. Kepler observed 150,000 stars, and has found a few thousand of those to have planet candidates. If the candidates were randomly distributed among Kepler's stars, only a handful would have more than one planet candidate. However, Kepler observed hundreds of stars that have multiple planet candidates. Through a careful study of this sample, these 715 new planets were verified.

This method can be likened to the behaviour we know of lions and lionesses. In our imaginary savannah, the lions are the Kepler stars and the lionesses are the planet candidates. The lionesses would sometimes be observed grouped together whereas lions tend to roam on their own. If you see two lions it could be a lion and a lioness or it could be two lions. But if more than two large felines are gathered, then it is very likely to be a lion and his pride. Thus, through multiplicity the lioness can be reliably identified in much the same way multiple planet candidates can be found around the same star.

"Four years ago, Kepler began a string of announcements of first hundreds, then thousands, of planet candidates -- but they were only candidate worlds," said Lissauer. "We've now developed a process to verify multiple planet candidates in bulk to deliver planets wholesale, and have used it to unveil a veritable bonanza of new worlds."

These multiple-planet systems are fertile grounds for studying individual planets and the configuration of planetary neighbourhoods. This provides clues to planet formation. The planets in multi-systems are small and orbit in the same plane, similar to planets in our solar system.

Four of these new planets are less than 2.5 times the size of Earth and orbit in their sun's habitable zone, defined as the range of distance from a star where the surface temperature of an orbiting planet may be suitable for life-giving liquid water.

One of these new habitable zone planets, called Kepler-296f, orbits a star half the size and 5 percent as bright as our Sun. Kepler-296f is twice the size of Earth, but scientists do not know whether the planet is a gaseous world, with a thick hydrogen-helium envelope, or it is a water world surrounded by a deep ocean.

This latest discovery brings the confirmed count of planets outside our solar system to nearly 1,700.

The findings papers will be published March 10 in The Astrophysical Journal and are available for download from http://www.nasa.gov/ames/kepler/digital-press-kit-kepler-planet-bonanza There you'll also find presentations from the news briefing of 26 February, animations, videos, and more.

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

8. Marsden Fund celebrates 20 years

Scientists, researchers and politicians gathered at Parliament on February 11 to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the Marsden Fund, New Zealand´s largest fund for leading-edge, fundamental research projects.

"Looking back over the last two decades, it becomes clear how Marsden-funded research has benefited all New Zealanders," says Professor Juliet Gerrard, chairperson of the Marsden Fund Council. "Many projects have a long lead-in time, but increasing our basic understanding of the world has now brought improved environmental outcomes, new technologies and better medicines and healthcare."

"What´s important about the Marsden Fund is that it gives our best and brightest researchers the freedom to explore their most exciting ideas. This is how important breakthroughs are made," says Professor Gerrard.

"Who would have thought that finding a sheep that kept on having triplets would result in better IVF treatment for women? Or that investigating brain development would lead to a new product for healing wounds?"

"The research being funded by the Marsden Fund today - ranging from understanding New Zealand drinking culture to investigating how pests will respond to global climate change - is work that will benefit New Zealand for decades to come."

The Marsden Fund was started by government in 1994 and supports projects in the sciences, technology, engineering, maths, social sciences and the humanities. The fund is administered on behalf of the government by the Royal Society of New Zealand.

Read more on the Marsden Fund turning 20 years old. http://www.royalsociety.org.nz/programmes/funds/marsden/marsden20/

-- From a press release in Royal Society of New Zealand Alert - Issue 801, 20 February 2014


NZ astronomy has been supported by the Marsden fund. The MOA project at Mt John involving Auckland University, Massey University's North Shore campus, Victoria University of Wellington and Canterbury University has received several three-year grants. Two other three-year research projects at Canterbury University are concluding down at Mt John now.

9. HST Sees LMC Spin

Using the sharp-eyed NASA Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have for the first time precisely measured the rotation rate of a galaxy based on the clock-like movement of its stars.

According to their analysis, the central part of the neighbouring galaxy, called the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), completes a rotation every 250 million years. It takes our sun the same amount of time to complete a rotation around the centre of our Milky Way galaxy.

The Hubble team -- Roeland van der Marel of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Md., and Nitya Kallivayalil of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va. -- used Hubble to measure the average motion of hundreds of individual stars in the LMC, located 170,000 light-years away. Using background quasars for reference Hubble recorded the stars' slight movements during a seven-year period.

"Studying this nearby galaxy by tracking the stars' movements gives us a better understanding of the internal structure of disk galaxies," said Kallivayalil, "Knowing a galaxy's rotation rate offers insight into how a galaxy formed, and it can be used to calculate its mass."

Disk-shaped galaxies such as the Milky Way and the LMC generally rotate like a carousel. Hubble's precision tracking offers a new way to determine a galaxy's rotation by the "sideways" proper motion of its stars, as seen in the plane of the sky. Astronomers have long measured the sideways motions of nearby celestial objects, but this is the first time the precision has become sufficient to see another distant galaxy rotate.

"The LMC is a very important galaxy because it is very near to our Milky Way," said van der Marel, "Studying the Milky Way is difficult because you're studying from the inside, so everything you see is spread all over the sky. It's all at different distances, and you're sitting in the middle of it. Studying structure and rotation is much easier if you view a nearby galaxy from the outside."

For the past century, astronomers have calculated galaxy rotation rates by observing a slight shift in the spectrum of its starlight. This shift is known as the Doppler Effect. On one side of a galaxy's spinning stellar disk, the stars swinging in the direction of Earth will show a spectral blueshift -- the compression of light waves due to motion toward the observer. Stars swinging away from Earth on the opposite side of a galaxy will show a spectral redshift -- the stretching of light to redder wavelengths due to motion away from the observer.

The newly measured Hubble motions and the Doppler motions measured previously provide complementary information about the LMC's rotation rate. By combining the results, the Hubble team obtained a fully three-dimensional view of stellar motions in another galaxy.

Hubble is the only telescope that can make this kind of observation because of its sharp resolution, its image stability, and its 24 years in space. This measurement is the culmination of ongoing work with Hubble to refine the calculation of the LMC's rotation rate. Van der Marel began analyzing the galaxy's rotation in 2002 by creating detailed predictions, now confirmed by Hubble, of what the rotation should look like.

The team next plans to use Hubble to measure the stellar motions in the LMC's diminutive cousin, the Small Magellanic Cloud, using the same technique. The galaxies are interacting, and that study should also yield improved insight into how the galaxies are moving around each other and around the Milky Way.

For more see: http://hubblesite.org/news/2014/11

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

10. Bright Lunar Impact Videoed

A meteorite with the mass of a small car crashed into the Moon last September, according to Spanish astronomers. The impact, the biggest seen to date, produced a bright flash and would have been easy to spot from the Earth. The scientists publish their description of the event in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The Moon lacks the atmosphere that prevents small rocks from space from reaching the surface of the Earth. The result is very visible -- vast numbers of craters large and small cover the whole of our nearest neighbor and record 4.5 billion years of collisions that span the history of the solar system.

Although there is almost no chance of a very large object striking the Moon or planets, collisions with smaller objects are very common even today. The odds of seeing one of these by chance are pretty poor, so scientists have set up networks of telescopes that can detect them automatically.

On 11 September 2013, Prof. Jose M. Madiedo was operating two telescopes in the south of Spain that were searching for these impact events. At 2007 GMT he witnessed an unusually long and bright flash in Mare Nubium, an ancient lava-filled basin with a darker appearance than its surroundings.

The flash was the result of a rock crashing into the lunar surface and was briefly almost as bright as the Pole Star, (2nd magnitude). Anyone lucky enough to be looking at the Moon at that moment would have been able to see it. In the video recording made by Prof. Madiedo, an afterglow remained visible for a further eight seconds.

The Spanish telescopes are part of the Moon Impacts Detection and Analysis System (MIDAS) system that monitors the lunar surface. This project is being undertaken by Prof. Jose Maria Madiedo, from the University of Huelva (UHU), and by Dr. Jose L. Ortiz, from the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia (IAA-CSIC) and continues a pioneering programme that detected sporadic lunar impact flashes for the first time.

Since these impacts take place at huge speeds, the rocks become molten and are vaporized at the impact site instantaneously, and this produces a thermal glow that can be detected from our planet as short-duration flashes through telescopes. Generally, these flashes last just a fraction of a second. But the flash detected on 11 September was much more intense and longer than anything observed before.

Prof. Madiedo and Dr. Ortiz think that the flash was produced by an impactor of around 400 kg with a width of between 0.6 and 1.4 meters. The rock hit Mare Nubium at about 61,000 kilometres per hour and created a new crater with a diameter of around 40 meters. The impact energy was equivalent to an explosion of roughly 15 tons of TNT, at least three times higher than the largest previously seen event observed by NASA in March last year.

Observing impacts on the Moon gives astronomers an insight into the risk of similar (but larger) objects hitting the Earth. One of the conclusions of the Spanish team is that these one meter sized objects may strike our planet about ten times as often as scientist previously thought. Fortunately, the Earth's atmosphere shields us from rocks as small as the one that hit Mare Nubium, but they can lead to spectacular 'fireball' meteors.

See http://mnras.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2014/02/19/mnras.stu083 Image at https://www.ras.org.uk/images/stories/press/Lunar%20impact%20flash%20Madiedo.jpg

-- From a Royal Astronomical Society (U.K) press release forwarded by Karen Pollard.

11. Blink Microscope Available

Noel Munford writes:

Sue and I are working on downsizing our home and so there are several things to go. One of those things is an aluminium Blink Microscope that I was given years ago and I almost forgot I even had it. Of course in this digital age there is little to do with it but I thought before it heads west I'd just inquire as to if anyone is interested in aquiring it. The microscope takes up to 5x4 negs.

It is in good order although a little dusty and is free to anyone who wants to arrange to pick it up from Palmerston North.

12. How to Join the RASNZ

A membership application form and details can be found on the RASNZ Website http://rasnz.pdj/RASNZInfo/Membership/ 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..

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

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. 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


Newsletter editor:

Alan Gilmore   Phone: 03 680 6000
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