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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. 2014 Conference in Whakatane
2. The Solar System in July
3. Phil Yock's Fellows Lecture
4. Bill Bradfield
5. Horowhenua StellarFest, July 25-27
6. Herbert Astronomy Weekend, August 22-25
7. Space Camp NZ, September 19-21
8. 2015 RASNZ Conference
9. NEO Imaged by Radar
10. 2014 Gruber Prize
11. Industrial Pollution as a Biomarker
12. Dwarf Galaxies are Tidal Remnants?
13. Magnetar Formation Mystery Solved?
14. Gifford-Eiby Lecture Fund
15. Kingdon-Tomlinson Fund
16. Quotes

1. 2014 Conference in Whakatane

Some 70 astronomers of various stripes gathered in Whakatane June 6-8 for the 2014 Conference of the RASNZ. Some stayed on for a meeting of the Variable Star South group on Monday. The Conference was hosted by the Whakatane Astronomical Society and celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the Society's founding.

Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, the discoverer of pulsars, was the featured speaker. Dame Jocelyn had earlier spoken in Christchurch and, after Whakatane, was generously touring the North Island to talk to several local societies.

Professor Phil Yock of Auckland University gave the Fellows Lecture. [See Item 3.] The after-dinner speaker on the Saturday evening was MP Moana Mackey who told of the difficulties that scientifically-trained persons have in relating to attitudes and mind-sets in Parliament.

David Herald, author of the Occult software, and Margaret Streamer visited from Canberra. Dr David Moriarty travelled from Queensland. New Zealanders attended from north of Kaitia to Dunedin.

The meeting was held at the Whakatane War Memorial Hall, an ideal venue with excellent sound and data projection. Coffee breaks and lunches were superbly catered. It was all a tribute to the local organising committee of Norman Izett, Nichola Vanderaa, Keith Blair, Jonathon Walker, Sheila David, Ian Bigham and Charlie Lampitt.

The RASNZ's Standing Conference Committee (SCC) had overseen the broad organisation of the meeting and had filled the talks programme. Special mention must be made of the contribution of Brian and Pauline Loader who have been on the SCC for many years and are now stepping down. For this meeting they were supported by Orlon Petterson, Denis Goodman, Tim Homes and Warwick Kissling.

Proceedings began on Friday evening with outgoing RASNZ President Gordon Hudson thanking the Local Organising Committee (LOC) and the SCC for their fine work. Gordon noted two major events of the past year in NZ astronomy: the death of Albert Jones of Nelson, the world's most productive visual variable star observer, and the award to Graham Blow of the Order of New Zealand Medal to Graham Blow for founding and running the RASNZ's Occultation Section for 37 years.

Norman Izett, President of the Whakatane Astronomical Society thanked the LOC for its work then introduced Whakatane Mayor Tony Bonne to do the official opening. Tony noted the attractions of the region. Volcanic White Island is an increasingly popular tourist designation off the coast, but not yet on a par with Hobbiton near Matamata which is visited by one in seven of overseas tourists. Kiwis of the feathered variety live in the bush between Whakatane Observatory and Ohope Beach. And the Green Party had recently voted Ohope Beach the best beach in NZ. Tony said that reducing light pollution is a challenge for every council in NZ. To this end, Whakatane is gradually replacing old streetlights with downward- directed LED lights.

Tony presented Norman Izett with a certificate recognising the long service of the Whakatane Astronomical Society to the Whakatane community in running the observatory, talking to the public and school groups, and generally raising the profile of the region. The citation read "The Whakatane District Council would like to acknowledge the Whakatane Astronomical Society on the occasion of its 50th Anniversary, 6 June 2014".

2. The Solar System in July

All dates and 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.

The Sun rises at 7.45 am and sets at 5.04 pm on July 1. On July 30 the times are 7.27 am and 5.27 pm respectively.

Phases of the moon (times as shown by guide)

First quarter: July  5 at 11.59 pm (        11:59 UT)
Full moon:     July 12 at 11.25 pm (        11:25 UT)
Last quarter   July 19 at  2.08 pm (        02:08 UT)
New moon:      July 27 at 10.42 am (Jul 26, 22:42 UT)

THE PLANETS IN JULY Mars and Saturn are visible in the evening sky while Mercury and Venus are morning sky objects. Jupiter is a very low evening object early in July but is at conjunction on the 25th.

The two asteroids, Ceres and Vesta have been a close pair this year. They are at their closest in July, only 10 arc-minutes apart early in the month.

Mercury is a morning object during July. It rises some 80 minutes before the Sun on July 1 with a magnitude 2.4. 45 minutes before sunrise it will be 5° up at an azimuth of 60°. So it will not be not an easy object in the dawn sky.

Things improve a little over the next few days. On the 13th it reaches its greatest elongation, 21° west of the Sun. Its magnitude then will be 0.4, so 2 magnitudes brighter and 7° up at an azimuth 55° 45 minutes before sunrise.

By the 20th Mercury will be at magnitude -0.4, but only 4° above the horizon 45 minutes before sunrise. The planet gets closer to the Sun during the rest of the month.

Venus is also in the morning sky and rises 40 to 50 minutes before Mercury all month. Venus starts the month 4° from Aldebaran, the distance increasing to 10° by the 31st.

On the 25th a very thin crescent moon only 4% lit will be 4° to the upper right of Venus, about midway between the planet and the 2nd magnitude star gamma Geminorum.

Mars is losing brightness as the faster-moving Earth moves ahead of, and further from, the red planet. During July, Mars dims slightly from magnitude 0.0 to 0.4. It transits at 6.51 pm on the 1st and 5.46 pm on the 31st, so is highest in the early evening. Mars remains in Virgo, a few degrees from Spica. The two are closest on the 14th with Mars 1.3° to the lower right of Spica early in the evening. By late evening the sky's rotation will bring Mars almost level with Spica still to its right.

The 58% lit moon joins Mars and Spica on the on the 6th. Early evening the moon will be 2.4° from Mars, during the evening the moon will move a little closer to Spica, so that by 8 pm the moon and star will be 2.4° apart. Earlier in the day, the moon will occult Mars, the event being visible from northern parts of South America.

The two asteroids Ceres and Vesta continue to be near Mars all month. During the second half of July they will be about 7° from the planet.

Jupiter sets some 80 minutes after the Sun at the beginning of July, so will be a very low object only 7° up and round towards the northwest half an hour after sunset. The planet closes in on the Sun through the month so becoming lost to view within a few days. It is at conjunction with the Sun on the 25th.

At conjunction Jupiter will be 940 million km from the Earth, 788 million km beyond the Sun. At its closest it will pass 8 arc minutes north of the Sun as "seen" from the Earth.

Saturn transits at 8.44 pm, two hours after Mars, on the 1st and 6.45 on the 31st, only 1 hour after Mars. That is the two planets get closer during the month, with a separation of about 14° by its end. Saturn is in Libra and will reach a stationary point on the 21st. Hence it will show little change in its position during July, just under 2.5° from alpha Librae.

The 77% lit moon will be 2.5° from Saturn on July 8, with Saturn between the moon and Alpha Lib. As is the case for Mars, the moon will occult Saturn earlier in the day. In this case the occultation is visible from southern parts of South America. The paths of the occultations will not overlap, there will be a strip of the continent between the two which see neither event.

Outer planets

Uranus rises an hour after midnight on July 1st and an hour before on the 31st. The planet is in Pisces at magnitude 5.8.

Neptune rises at 9.42 p on the 1st and 6.41 pm on the 31st . It is in Aquarius with a magnitude 7.8 by the month's end.

Pluto is at opposition on July 8. The dwarf planet is in Sagittarius at magnitude 14.3, position RA 18hr 51.1 min, Dec -2° 19'. This places it 1.7° from the mag 3.5 star xi2 Sgr and 40" south of the 7.6 mag star V4088 Sgr.

Brighter asteroids:

(1) Ceres and (4) Vesta are at their closest on July 5 and 6, when they will be 10 arc-minutes apart, about one-third the diameter of the full moon. Vesta'a magnitude ranges from 7.1 to 7.5 during July, Ceres's 8.4 to 8.8.

The two asteroids are also close to Mars some 7 or 8 degrees from the planet. All three are in Virgo. On the 14th when Mars is closest to Spica, the two asteroids will be 7° from the planet on the opposite to Spica.

-- Brian Loader

3. Phil Yock's Fellows Lecture

Professor Phil Yock's Fellows Lecture was titled "From Particles to Planets". Phil skipped over his early involvement with particles, nuclear physics, and started the story at supernova 1987A. It was widely expected that cosmic rays from the supernova would soon be seen. Phil facilitated the setting up of cosmic-ray detectors on Black Birch Range by Nagoya University's Solar-Terrestrial Environment Laboratory. That project ran for seven years with no cosmic rays being seen. (No pulsar has yet been detected either.)

Nagoya's interest moved to searching for Dark Matter. When a star or other compact mass exactly crosses our line of sight to a more distant star then it focuses the star's light toward us, causing the star to brighten then fade. The bigger the lensing mass, the longer the event lasts. Lensing by a star causes a rise and fade lasting many tens of days. The line-up has to be very precise, so it is essential to observe fields dense in stars. The usual targets are the Magellanic Clouds and the Galactic Bulge. The Bulge or central region is seen through a gap in the interstellar dust clouds near M8.

After enquiring with Bill Allen, Phil contacted John Hearnshaw about using a Mt John telescope. With help from Norman Rumsey and Garry Nankivell one of Mt John's 60-cm telescopes was converted to f/6 and equipped with a CCD camera made at Nagoya. After some preliminaries, observations got underway in 1996.

The success of this work led to a grant of about $7m from Monbusho (the Ministry of Education, Science, Sports and Culture, of the government of Japan) to design, build and run the 1.8-metre MOA telescope. The nascent Earth and Sky Company (Graeme Murray and Hide Ozawa) contributed $500k for the control building and dome foundation. Telescope was officially opened in December 2004.

Since 2004 the MACHO programme has morphed into a search for planets around distant stars. A planet circling the lensing star can distort the gravitational lens so the normally symmetric rise and fall in brightness has extra bumps on it. The programme has found many planets, some in multiple systems. Microlensing can find planets that are not detectable by other planet-finding technologies. Most of these are thousands of light-years away toward the Galactic Bulge.

-- From the Editor's notes. Not to be taken as a true and correct record. Notes from other Conference talks will be included in forthcoming Newsletters.

4. Bill Bradfield

The following note was circulated by Professor John O'Byrne of the Astronomical Society of Australia.

I am sad to report the recent death of Australian comet hunter Bill Bradfield (1928-2014). Bill Bradfield was the 20th Century's foremost visual comet hunter, discovering 18-comets between 1972 and 2004. He won the ASA's page Medal in 1981 and has asteroid 3430 Bradfield named in his honour. He was also a former employee of DSTO in Adelaide who worked as a research scientist on rocket-propulsion systems.

Bill died peacefully after a long illness on the 9th of June.


There is a long article about Bill on Sky & Telescope's website at http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/bill-bradfield-comet-hunter-extraordinaire-1927-2014/ Thanks to Warwick Kissling for pointing this out.

5. Horowhenua StellarFest, July 25-27

The Horowhenua Astronomical Society is holding the third annual StellarFest on 25-27 July 2014 at Foxton Beach Bible Camp, Foxton Beach, Horowhenua, Lower North Island.

The overall theme of the weekend will be the Winter Milky Way and the Clouds of Magellan. The venue is situated in a very dark site so these wondrous areas of the night sky will be easily visible and riding high in the sky.

The weekend will include:

  • Hydrogen-alpha solar viewing and photography
  • Interesting talks by both professional and amateur astronomers
  • Night-time observing, through a variety of telescopes. Feel free to bring your own telescopes - the more the merrier!
  • A telescope trail

There will also be a programme of interesting talks on a variety of topics throughout the day and, in the event of bad weather, during the evening. The following speakers are confirmed: Professor Tony Signal - `Gravitational Waves and Cosmology: Latest Results show Inflation works!'; Jeremy Moss: "Telescopes - Beyond the visible"; Steven Keen- "Space Invaders - High Altitude Ballooning"; Professor Bill Williams - TBA; Edwin Rodley - "Space news update"; Catherine Abou-Nemeh - Comets in late 17th-Century Europe"; Frank Andrews - TBA; Carl Knight - "Factors affecting Novae Ejecta"; Vicki Irons - "Catch a falling Star"; Owen Moore - TBA; Stephen Chadwick - "Wonders in the Ship of Argo"; Grant Christie - "A Galaxy of Planets: The search for another Earth"; Ian Cooper - "Joining the Dots"; Peter Felhofer - "The Cosmological Scale"; John Talbot - "Watching Stars go out (Occultation Observing)"; Otto Gruebl - "Astronomy vs Astrology".

If you have your own telescope/binoculars/camera please bring it along. If you would like some advice about getting the most out of your equipment there will be experts on hand to assist. Don't be shy!

There is a pool table and table tennis as well as a playground with trampolines and a flying fox, rugby and soccer, grass tennis and volleyball to keep the young (and not so young!) amused.

More info can be found at http://www.horoastronomy.org.nz/upcoming-events/stellarfest

Bookings can be made online at http://groupspaces.com/HoroAstronomy/item/633390

6. Herbert Astronomy Weekend, August 22-25

The Herbert Astronomy Weekend, at Camp Iona, south of Oamaru, is on August 22nd-25th. For map and registration see http://www.treesandstars.com/herbert/.

Other details later. -- from a note by Euan Mason

7. Space Camp NZ, September 19-21

Space Camp NZ 2014 at Raincliff Youth Camp, South Canterbury, 19th to 21st September 2014

Speakers, workshops, solar & night sky observing. Activities for beginners to the more experienced astronomer.

All meals are BYO, except for Saturday evening which is a pot luck meal, details of what to bring based on numbers will be made available closer to the time. See April's month's Newsletter, Item 9, for the speaker list. For details see http://spacecampnz.scastro.org.nz/

-- From the above webpage.

8. 2015 RASNZ Conference

The 2015 RASNZ Conference will be held in Lake Tekapo village From Friday May 8 to Sunday 10th. It will be followed by the 9th Trans-Tasman Occultation Meeting on the Monday and Tuesday, May 11-12.

Preceding the RASNZ Conference will be a two-day meeting celebrating Mt John Observatory's 50th Anniversary. The meeting will be held in Lake Tekapo village on the Thursday and Friday, May 7-8. The theme is `Celebrating 50 years of Mt John'. Past Pennsylvania and Canterbury University students will contribute papers but anyone is welcome. About 80 participants are expected. Details are available at www.mjuo50.org.nz.

9. NEO Imaged by Radar

NASA scientists using Earth-based radar have produced sharp views of a recently discovered asteroid 2014 HQ124 as it passed the Earth on June 8. The new views of the object are some of the most detailed radar images of a near-Earth asteroid ever obtained. An animation of the rotating asteroid and a collage of the images are available at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/video/index.php?id=1310

The radar observations were led by scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. The JPL researchers worked closely with others at Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico to plan and execute the observations.

The radar images show 2014 HQ124 to be an elongated, irregular object that is at least 370 metres wide on its long axis. Lance Benner, one of the JPL scientists involved said "This may be a double object, or 'contact binary,' consisting of two objects that form a single asteroid with a lobed shape."

At its closest approach to Earth on June 8, the asteroid came within 1.25 million km, or slightly more than three times the distance to the moon. Radar observations began shortly after the closest approach, when the asteroid was between about 1.39 million km and 1.45 million km from Earth.

The images show features as small as about four metres wide. This is the highest resolution currently possible using scientific radar antennas. Such sharp views for this asteroid were made possible by linking together two giant radio telescopes to enhance their capabilities.

To obtain the radar views, researchers paired the 70-metre Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, California, with two other radio telescopes, one at a time. Using this technique, the Goldstone antenna beams a radar signal at an asteroid and the other antenna receives the reflections. The technique dramatically improves the amount of detail that can be seen in radar images.

To image 2014 HQ124, the researchers first paired the large Goldstone antenna with the 305-metre Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico. They later paired the large Goldstone dish with a smaller companion, a 34-metre antenna, located about 32 km away. Scientists were fortunate to be able to make these radar observations at all, as this particular asteroid was only recently discovered. NASA's NEOWISE mission, a space telescope adapted for searching the sky for the infrared light emitted by asteroids and comets, first spotted the space rock on 23 April. The story of the asteroid's discovery and its orbit was earlier shared online at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2014-178

For asteroids, as well as comets, radar is a powerful tool for studying the objects' size, shape, rotation, surface features and orbits. Radar measurements of asteroid distances and velocities enable researchers to compute orbits much further into the future than if radar observations were not available.

NASA detects, tracks and characterizes asteroids and comets passing close to Earth using both ground- and space-based telescopes. The Near-Earth Object Program, commonly called "Spaceguard," discovers these objects, characterizes a subset of them and identifies their orbits to determine if any could be potentially hazardous to our planet. To date, U.S. assets have discovered more than 98 percent of the known near-Earth objects. In addition, NASA values the work of numerous highly skilled amateur astronomers, whose accurate observational data helps improve asteroid orbits after they are found.

More information about asteroids and near-Earth objects is available at: http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/ http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/asteroidwatch Twitter updates are at: http://www.twitter.com/asteroidwatch

-- From NASA press release http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2014-186


2014 HQ124 approached the Earth in the southeast dawn sky. Useful

astrometry was obtained from Mt John in late April and early June.

10. 2014 Gruber Prize

The 2014 Gruber Foundation Cosmology Prize has been awarded to Jaan Einasto, Ken Freeman, R. Brent Tully, and Sidney van den Bergh for their individual roles in the development of Near Field Cosmology - laying the foundation in our understanding of the structure and composition of the nearby Universe. The Cosmology Prize honours a leading cosmologist, astronomer, astrophysicist or scientific philosopher for theoretical, analytical, conceptual or observational discoveries leading to fundamental advances in our understanding of the Universe.

For more details see http://www.iau.org/news/pressreleases/detail/iau1403/

11. Industrial Pollution as a Biomarker

In a recent paper three researchers from Harvard University and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics point out that air pollution is a sign of intelligent life, though difficult to detect in exoplanets.

The abstract reads: Detecting biomarkers, such as molecular oxygen, in the atmospheres of transiting exoplanets has been a major focus in the search for alien life. We point out that in addition to these generic indicators, anthropogenic pollution could be used as a novel biomarker for intelligent life. To this end, we identify pollutants in the Earth's atmosphere that have significant absorption features in the spectral range covered by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). We estimate that for an Earth-mass planet in the habitable zone of a white dwarf, methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) can be detected at earth-like concentrations with an integration time of ~1.5 hrs and 12 hrs respectively. Detecting pollutants that are produced nearly exclusively by anthropogenic activities will be significantly more challenging. Of these pollutants, we focus on tetrafluoromethane (CF4) and trichlorofluoromethane (CCl3F), which will be the easiest to detect. We estimate that ~1.5 days and ~3 days of total integration time will be sufficient to detect or constrain the concentration of CCl3F and CF4 to 100 times current terrestrial level.

See the paper at http://arxiv.org/pdf/1406.3025v1.pdf

-- Thanks to Phil Yock for drawing attention to this paper.

12. Dwarf Galaxies are Tidal Remnants?

Dwarf galaxies that orbit the Milky Way and the Andromeda galaxies defy the accepted model of galaxy formation, and recent attempts to wedge them into the model are flawed, reports an international team of astrophysicists.

The study pokes holes in the current understanding of galaxy formation and questions the accepted model of the origin and evolution of the universe. According to the standard paradigm, 23 percent of the mass of the universe is shaped by invisible particles known as dark matter. The model predicts that dwarf galaxies should form inside of small clumps of dark matter. These clumps should be distributed randomly about their parent galaxy. What is observed is very different. The dwarf galaxies belonging to the Milky Way and Andromeda are seen to be orbiting in huge, thin disk-like structures.

This distribution favours an alternate, and much older, model: that the satellites were pulled out from another galaxy when it interacted with the Local Group galaxies in the distant past. This `tidal' model can naturally explain why the observed satellites are orbiting in thin disks.

A pre-print of the paper is available online at http://arxiv.org/abs/1406.1799.

http://www.rit.edu/news/story.php?id=50841

-- From the Rochester Institute of Technology 'University News'. Thanks to John Arnold for passing along the link.

13. Magnetar Formation Mystery Solved?

Magnetars are the bizarre super-dense remnants of supernova explosions. They are the strongest magnets known in the Universe - millions of times more powerful than the strongest magnets on Earth. A team of European astronomers using the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT) now believe they've found the partner star of a magnetar for the first time. This discovery helps to explain how magnetars form - a conundrum dating back 35 years - and why this particular star didn't collapse into a black hole as astronomers would expect.

When a massive star collapses under its own gravity during a supernova explosion it forms either a neutron star or black hole. Magnetars are an unusual and very exotic form of neutron star. Like all of these strange objects they are tiny and extraordinarily dense - a teaspoon of neutron star material would have a mass of about a billion tonnes - but they also have extremely powerful magnetic fields. Magnetar surfaces release vast quantities of gamma rays when they undergo a sudden adjustment known as a starquake as a result of the huge stresses in their crusts.

The Westerlund 1 star cluster, located 16 000 light-years away in the southern constellation of Ara (the Altar), hosts one of the two dozen magnetars known in the Milky Way. It is called CXOU J164710.2-455216 and it has greatly puzzled astronomers.

Earlier work showed that the magnetar in the cluster Westerlund 1 must have been born in the explosive death of a star about 40 times as massive as the Sun. But this presents a problem. Stars such mass are expected to collapse to form black holes after their deaths, not neutron stars. It was not understood how it could have become a magnetar.

Astronomers proposed a solution to this mystery. They suggested that the magnetar formed through the interactions of two very massive stars orbiting one another in a binary system so compact that it would fit within the orbit of the Earth around the Sun. But, up to now, no companion star was detected at the location of the magnetar in Westerlund 1, so astronomers used the VLT to search for it in other parts of the cluster. They hunted for runaway stars - objects escaping the cluster at high velocities - that might have been kicked out of orbit by the supernova explosion that formed the magnetar. One star, known as Westerlund 1-5, was found to be doing just that.

The star had the high velocity expected if it is recoiling from a supernova explosion. It also had a combination of low mass, high luminosity and carbon-rich composition. This appears impossible to replicate in a single star - a smoking gun that shows it must have originally formed with a binary companion.

This discovery allowed a reconstruction the stellar life story that permitted the magnetar to form, in place of the expected black hole. In the first stage of this process, the more massive star of the pair begins to run out of fuel, transferring its outer layers to its less massive companion - which is destined to become the magnetar. This transfer caused the less massive star to rotate more and more quickly. This rapid rotation appears to be the essential ingredient in the formation of the magnetar's ultra-strong magnetic field.

In the second stage, as a result of this mass transfer, the companion itself becomes so massive that it in turn sheds a large amount of its recently gained mass. Much of this mass is lost but some is passed back to the original star that we still see shining today as Westerlund 1-5.

It is this process of swapping material that has imparted the unique chemical signature to Westerlund 1-5. It also allowed the mass of its companion to shrink to low enough levels that a magnetar was born instead of a black hole - a game of stellar pass-the-parcel with cosmic consequences.

It seems that being a component of a double star may therefore be an essential ingredient in the recipe for forming a magnetar. The rapid rotation created by mass transfer between the two stars appears necessary to generate the ultra-strong magnetic field and then a second mass transfer phase allows the magnetar-to-be to slim down sufficiently so that it does not collapse into a black hole at the moment of its death.

The full paper's available at http://www.eso.org/public/archives/releases/sciencepapers/eso1415/eso1415a.pdf


The open cluster Westerlund 1 was discovered in 1961 from Australia by Swedish astronomer Bengt Westerlund. The cluster is behind a huge interstellar cloud of gas and dust, which blocks most of its visible light. The dimming factor is more than 100 000, and this is why it has taken so long to uncover the true nature of this particular cluster.

Westerlund 1 is a unique natural laboratory for the study of extreme stellar physics, helping astronomers to find out how the most massive stars in the Milky Way live and die. From their observations, the astronomers conclude that this extreme cluster most probably contains no less than 100 000 times the mass of the Sun, and all of its stars are located within a region less than 6 light-years across. Westerlund 1 thus appears to be the most massive compact young cluster yet identified in the Milky Way galaxy.

All the stars so far analysed in Westerlund 1 have masses at least 30-40 times that of the Sun. Because such stars have a rather short life - astronomically speaking - Westerlund 1 must be very young. Its age is somewhere between 3.5 and 5 million years.


-- From a joint Open University and European Southern Observatory press release forwarded by Karen Pollard.

14. Gifford-Eiby Lecture Fund

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

For an application form contact the Executive Secretary This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., R O'Keeffe, 662 Onewhero-Tuakau Bridge Rd, RD 2, TUAKAU 2697

15. Kingdon-Tomlinson Fund

The RASNZ is responsible for recommending to the trustees of the Kingdon Tomlinson Fund that grants be made for astronomical projects. The grants may be to any person or persons, or organisations, requiring funding for any projects or ventures that promote the progress of astronomy in New Zealand. 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

16. Quotes

"Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure science." -- Edwin Hubble.

"The true men of action in our time, those who transform the world, are not the politicians and statesmen, but the scientists." -- W.H. Auden.

"I cannot but stress often enough that what science is all about is not proving things to be true but proving them to be false." -- Lawrence M. Krauss.

"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." -- John F. Kennedy.

"People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use." -- Soren Kierkegaard.

"There are two ways slide easily through life; to believe everything or to doubt everything. Both ways save us from thinking." -- Alfred Korzybski.

"If you have any doubts that we live in a society controlled by men, try reading down the index of contributors to a volume of quotations, looking for women's Names." -- Elaine Gill.

"The facility for quotation covers the absence of original thought." -- Dorothy L Sayers.


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