RASNZ Electronic Newsletter April 2015

The RASNZ Email newsletter is distributed by email on or near the 20th of each month. If you would like to be on the circulation list email the editor for a copy. The latest issue is below.

Email Newsletter Number 172

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.


1. Gerry Gilmore Lecture Tour
2. 2015 Conference Update
3. The Solar System in May
4. Observations of Comet 67P Sought
5. IAU Cosmic Light Programme
6. UTC Time Step on July 1
7. More Results from Plank
8. Last Notes from the 2014 Conference
9. How to Join the RASNZ
10. Gifford-Eiby Lecture Fund
11. Kingdon-Tomlinson Fund
12. Quote

1. Gerry Gilmore Lecture Tour

The RASNZ Lecture Trust Inc. is pleased to advise that this year´s Beatrice Hill Tinsley Lecturer is Professor Gerry Gilmore (http://www.ast.cam.ac.uk/people/Gerry.F.Gilmore).

Gerry is Professor of Experimental Philosophy at the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge University, UK. Additionally, he is Scientific Coordinator of Opticon: the European Union Co-ordination Network for Optical Infrared Astronomy, and UK Principal Investigator of the Gaia data processing consortium. He gained his PhD at the University of Canterbury, NZ.

Lecture details are:

May 4th Auckland 8:30pm Owen Glen Lecture Theatre, University of Auckland, Grafton Rd, Auckland Central. Free admission. Gaia: Mapping the Milky Way from Space

May 5th Nelson 7:30pm Room A211, Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology. $2 admission. Nelson Science Society members free. Astronomy, Cosmology and the Big Question in Nature

May 11th Dunedin (a Physics Department, University of Otago public lecture) 6:00pm to 7:30pm Castle 2 Lecture Theatre, University of Otago. Free admission. Gaia: Mapping the Milky Way from Space

May 13th Wanganui Whanganui Regional Museum´s Davis Lecture Theatre Astronomy, Cosmology and the Big Question in Nature

May 14th Gisborne 7:00pm Lawson Field Theatre $5 admission. Astronomy, Cosmology and the Big Question in Nature

May 15th Wellington 6:00pm Royal Society Rooms, Thorndon, Wellington Free admission. Gaia: Mapping the Milky Way from Space

Abstracts of the talks:

Astronomy, Cosmology and the Big Question in Nature People have been thinking about where we and the Universe came from, in all cultures. Modern science has made impressive progress, linking big questions from the largest to the smallest scales. This talk will give a top level overview of how we address big questions, and where we are with the current big questions: dark matter, dark energy and more.

Gaia: Mapping the Milky Way from Space Gaia is the European Space Agency mission which is currently creating the first ever 3-D census of the Milky Way. Gaia´s giga-pixel camera is mapping the brightness, colour, distance and motions of over one billion stars to a precision comparable to resolving a button on the Moon. Gerry Gilmore who is UK´s Principal Investigator for Gaia and leads the team processing Gaia´s imaging data, will explain what Gaia is, how it is delivering a 12-Dimensional map of the Milky Way, and give some personal views on life inside a billion Euro project. http://gaia.ac.uk/.

-- Bob Evans on behalf of the RASNZ Lecture Trust Inc.


2. 2015 Conference Update

A brief summary from our busy Organizing Committee: The conference is now less than three weeks away and we have a great line up of speakers. We can still accept further registrations but we can't accept anyone else for the Dinner. We can still accept more Poster Papers.

For further information on the RASNZ conference and registration please visit the conference website at http://www.rasnz.org.nz/groups-news-events/rasnz-conference . The conference will be preceded by a two day symposium to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Mount John University Observatory - see http://www.phys.canterbury.ac.nz/mtjohn50/ for registration information and other details of this meeting. Immediately after the conference the Ninth Trans-Tasman Symposium on Occultations (TTSO9) will also be held at the Godley Hotel, Lake Tekapo on 11th-12th May. For details see http://occultations.org.nz/meetings/TTSO9/TTSO9.htm. Note that registrations for TTSO9 can ONLY be made through the RASNZ Conference registration page.


3. The Solar System in May

Dates and times are NZST (UT + 12 hours) from May 5 unless otherwise specified. Rise and set times are for Wellington. They will vary by a few minutes elsewhere in NZ.

Sunrise, sunset and twilight times in may

                               May  1  NZST                    May 30  NZST
                    morning  evening                 morning  evening
            rise:   7.04am, set:  5.30pm  rise:   7.33am, set:  5.03pm
  Civil:    starts: 6.38am, ends: 5.57pm  starts: 7.05am, ends: 5.33pm
  Nautical: starts: 6.06am, ends: 6.30pm  starts: 6.31am, ends: 6.06pm 
  Astro:    starts: 5.34am, ends: 7.02pm  starts: 5.57am, ends: 6.39pm

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

          Full moon:     May  4 at  3.42 pm (03:42 UT)
  Last quarter:  May 11 at 10.36 pm (10:36 UT)
  New moon:      May 18 at  4.13 pm (04:13 UT)
  First quarter: May 26 at  5.19 am (May 25, 17:19 UT)

THE PLANETS in May Mercury and Mars are both too close to the Sun to observe for a second month. Venus continues to get higher in the evening sky while Jupiter gets lower setting around 10 pm by the end of May, so is best observed early evening. Saturn is at opposition on May 23, so is best viewed late evening and early morning.

MERCURY sets 45 minutes after the Sun on May 1. It is at its greatest elongation 21° east of the Sun on the 7th. Although it will then set 53 minutes after the Sun it will be too low for observation. It is at inferior conjunction between the Earth and Sun at the end of May. Mercury will then be about 2° south of the Sun with its unlit side towards the Earth. At conjunction Mercury will be 70 million km from the Sun and 82 million km from the Earth.

VENUS sets 2 hours after the Sun on the 1st and 3 hours after it on the 31st. On May 1 Venus will be 13° up half an hours after sunset. The planet will be in Taurus some 3° above El Nath, beta Tau, at magnitude 1.7 the second brightest star in Taurus. Venus moves to the east into Gemini on the 8th. By the 31st, half an hour after sunset Venus will be 20° above the horizon to the north of northwest. It will then be 4° above Pollux, at magnitude 1.2 the brightest star in Gemini.

On the evening of May 21 the crescent moon, 11% lit will be 9° to the left of Venus. The following night the moon will be a similar distance above Venus.

MARS sets only half an hour after the Sun on the 1st. By the 31st this has reduced to only 10 minutes later. Conjunction occurs in mid June.

JUPITER will be best placed for viewing as the sky darkens following sunset. On the 1st it is highest, 31° and due north at transit, 6.49 pm. By the end of May, Jupiter transits at sunset and will be 30° up at 6pm an hour after sunset. Altitudes are for the latitude of Wellington. The planet will be a little higher further north and lower further south in NZ

The time Jupiter sets gets steady earlier during the month from a few minutes before midnight on the 1st to a few minutes after 10 pm on the 31st. It will be in Cancer rather distant from any bright stars. It will be moving slowly to the east in the direction of Regulus, but remain 15° from the star by the end of May.

MUTUAL EVENTS OF JOVIAN SATELLITES There are about 10 mutual events of Jupiter's Galilean satellites observable from NZ during May. Some occur very soon after sunset or when Jupiter is very low. Better placed one include:

May 3, Callisto occults Ganymede, mid event ca 10.40pm, duration 6.8 min, altitude ca 10°. May 5, Io eclipses Europa, mid event ca 8.16pm, duration 5.3 min, magnitude change of Europa 1.5, so easy to detect. May 13, Ganymede occults Io, mid event ca 6.07pm, duration 5.5 min May 17, Io occults Ganymede, mid event ca 8.12pm, duration 4.9 min May 20, Ganymede occults Io, mid event ca 9.05pm, duration 6.4 min May 25, Europa occults Io, mid event ca 6.28pm, duration 3.5 min May 27, Ganymede occults Europa, mid event ca 8.03pm, duration 7.3 min, this occultation is total for about 90 seconds.

Useful observations and timings of these events can be made by those set up for the video observation of minor planet occultations.

Users of Dave Herald's Occult program can generate their own predictions of these and other events. Hristo Pavlov's Occult Watcher programme will also list them and has diagrams showing the satellites relative to Jupiter. Details can also be found on the IMCCE web site, http://www.imcce.fr/phemu/ where predictions and requirements for observing and reporting information are available.

SATURN is at opposition on May 23. It rises just over an hour after sunset on May 1 and about half an hour before sunset on May 31. The planet starts the month in Scorpius near beta1 Sco (mag 2.6). It moves slowly to the west through the stars during May, crossing into Libra on May 11.

At opposition on May 24, Saturn will be slightly less than 9 AU, 1341 million km from the Earth and 10 AU, 1493 million km from the Sun.

The almost full moon will be just under 4° to the left of Saturn on the evening of May 5. The two are closest about 4am on the morning of May 6.

At present Saturn's north pole is tilted 25° towards the Earth. This brings the northern surface of the rings well into view. They should be visible in binoculars, although a small telescope is likely to give a better view.

Outer planets

URANUS is a morning object in Pisces rising 2 hours before the Sun on the 1st and rather over 4 hours before the Sun on the 31st. The planet's magnitude is 5.9, so readily visible in binoculars

NEPTUNE rise a little over 5 hours before the Sun on May 1. By the 31st it rises just before midnight. The planet remains in Aquarius at magnitude 7.9

PLUTO is in Sagittarius rising near 9.30 pm on the 1st and 2 hours earlier on the 31st. Its magnitude is 14.3.

Brighter asteroids:

(1) Ceres is in Capricornus during May, its magnitude ranging from 8.9 to 8.5 through the month. It rises a little before 11 pm on the 1st and at 9 pm on the 31st.

(4) Vesta is a morning object in Aquarius for most of May, but moves into Pisces on the 29th. Its magnitude is close to 8.0 all month. Vesta rises at 2.20 am on May 1 and 1.20 am on the 31st.

-- Brian Loader


4. Observations of Comet 67P Sought

Observations of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko are sought from amateur and professional astronomers.

67P is currently crossing from Aquarius into Pisces and just beginning to emerge from the solar glare for observers in the southern hemisphere. With an estimated magnitude at around +16, the comet will still be a very difficult object to see visually, but well within the range of amateur astrophotography. Solar elongation increases to 37° in mid-May with the comet a magnitude brighter and ripe for a portrait before the start of dawn.

Amateur astronomers can sign up at http://rosetta.jpl.nasa.gov/amateur-observer-registration for the new campaign. Once registered, you'll start receiving updates from your fellow observers at the PACA (Pro-Amateur Collaborative Astronomy) Rosetta67P Facebook group. You'll also contribute your observations there https://www.facebook.com/groups/paca.rosetta67p/

Professional astronomers can go to the Rosetta Campaign site or e-mail Colin Snodgrass <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.> See also http://www.rosetta-campaign.net/

See Bob King's article at http://click.e.skyandtelescope.com/?qs=6d1836aecf57e9a1db00cf6b3555d5d a62861da139062522402887fbeac3dfa7bd9da43da9c546dd


5. IAU Cosmic Light Programme

The International Astronomical Union on April 16 launched the Cosmic Light programme. This is part of the global celebrations of the International Year of Light 2015. The IAU is focused on limiting energy waste through the reduction of light pollution. It also wants to highlight the importance of the preservation of dark night skies.

In 2013 the United Nations proclaimed 2015 as the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL 2015). This initiative was the result of a large consortium between UNESCO and a range of scientific bodies, including scientific societies and unions, educational institutions, technology platforms, non-profit organisations and private sector partners.

The IAU was invited by the IYL2015 Steering Committee to organise activities under the Cosmic Light theme. The IAU recognises the importance of light for astronomy. It supports the notion that technology leading to greater energy efficiency is key to the preservation of dark skies.

IAU has since joined forces with CIE (International Commission on Illumination) and IDA (International Dark-Sky Association). This forms a group of experts in lighting, light pollution awareness, education and outreach. All in this group strongly support the preservation of the night skies, their quality, and our fundamental right to the night sky. As light pollution increasingly becomes excessive, misdirected light has profound consequences on our perception of the night sky. It also interferes with astronomical research, disrupts ecosystems, leads to adverse health effects and wastes energy.

A public call gathered many high quality proposals from around the world. From these the IAU identified several key projects now called the Cosmic Light cornerstone projects. These are making a difference to people´s awareness of the problems caused by light pollution and the importance of understanding our Universe through cosmic light. The cornerstone projects are (with links listed at the end):

Cosmic Light Awareness A cornerstone of the programme, focused on involving schools around the globe in awareness campaigns within the framework of the International Year of Light. The diversity of the networks involved will allow the programme to reach 100 countries with three project components: oThe IYL2015 Dark Sky Meter App, already launched for iPhone. With this app the user can get instant information about the night-sky quality and contribute directly to science. oThe Cosmic Light EDU kit. From its website teachers will have access to a virtual kit that gathers many activities, tools and other resources on the topic of the science of light. This kit features continued support for teaching communities around the world. A special component will be incorporated for children with visual impairments. oThe Quality Lighting Teaching Kit, focusing on light pollution awareness, will increase student and public awareness of quality lighting issues through online tutorials, teaching kits, and hands-on activities. The programme and kit will be disseminated to formal and informal audiences worldwide. By choosing developing countries or countries most affected by poor quality lighting, this project seeks to produce a lasting legacy.

Light: Beyond the Bulb (LBTB) An open-source international exhibition programme for the International Year of Light designed to showcase the incredible variety of light-based scientific research being done today, spanning the entire electromagnetic spectrum, as well as many scientific disciplines and technological platforms. The free exhibition materials and striking images have been crowd-sourced and curated by experts for their scientific content, high-quality printability, stunning beauty and ability to engage the wider public audience. Any exhibitor can host the exhibition. So far there are 150 LBTB locations signed up for exhibits across 25 countries and 400 LBTB poster exhibit venues.

Galileoscope A high-quality, low-cost telescope kit developed by a team of leading astronomers and science educators. This easy-to-assemble kit allows one to see the celestial wonders that Galileo Galilei first glimpsed over 400 years ago. These include lunar craters and mountains, four moons orbiting Jupiter, the phases of Venus, Saturn´s rings, and countless stars invisible to the naked eye. Galileoscope is currently accepting pre-orders for the International Year of Light 2015 special edition, with deliveries to commence in May.

Through this set of worldwide programmes, the IAU intends to reach and engage a large number of communities. It wants to raise awareness of the need to minimise light pollution and to have a better understanding of the universe. It extends the invitation to worldwide communicators to join us for this amazing global celebration.

Links oCosmic Light https://www.iau.org/iyl/ oInternational Year of Light 2015 http://www.light2015.org/ oLight beyond the Bulb http://lightexhibit.org/ oGalileoscope http://galileoscope.org/ oCosmicLight EDU kit http://nuclio.org/cosmiclightedukit/ oIYL2015 Dark Sky Meter App https://itunes.apple.com/app/dsm- lite/id626796278?mt=8 [It costs $1.30 or thereabouts. - Ed.] oInternational Commission on Illumination http://www.cie.co.at/ oInternational Dark-Sky Association http://www.darksky.org/ oExecutive Committee Working Group on the IYL2015 http://www.iau.org/science/scientific_bodies/working_groups/212

See the full release at http://www.iau.org/news/pressreleases/detail/iau1504/

-- Abridged from the above release.


6. UTC Time Step on July 1

The International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service, Paris Observatory, announced their in Bulletin C number 49 that a positive leap second will be introduced at the end of June 2015. The sequence of dates of the UTC second markers will be: 2015 June 30, 23h 59m 59s 2015 June 30, 23h 59m 60s 2015 July 1, 0h 0m 0s

The difference between UTC and the International Atomic Time TAI is: from 2012 July 1, 0h UTC, to 2015 July 1 0h UTC : UTC-TAI = - 35s from 2015 July 1, 0h UTC, until further notice : UTC-TAI = - 36s

------ Leap seconds can be introduced in UTC at the end of the months of December or June, depending on the evolution of UT1-TAI. Bulletin C is mailed every six months, either to announce a time step in UTC or to confirm that there will be no time step at the next possible date.

See http://hpiers.obspm.fr/eop-pc

-- Thanks to Howard Barnes for passing this along.


7. More Results from Plank

New maps from the European Space Agency´s Planck satellite show the polarized light from the early universe across the entire sky, revealing that the first stars formed much later than previously thought. They also include information about our own Milky Way, showing that the contribution from dust in our galaxy is much more widespread than previously thought. They reveal complex structures in the galactic magnetic field.

The history of our universe began 13.8 billion years ago, and for researchers trying to understand its evolution, one major source of information is the cosmic microwave background, or CMB. This fossil light came from when the universe was hot and dense, only 380,000 years after the Big Bang. Thanks to the expansion of the universe, we see this light today covering the whole sky at microwave wavelengths.

Between 2009 and 2013, Planck surveyed the sky to study this ancient light in unprecedented detail. Tiny differences in the background´s temperature trace regions of slightly different density in the early cosmos, representing the seeds of all future structure, the stars and galaxies of today. Scientists from the Planck collaboration have published the results from the analysis of these data in numerous scientific papers over the past two years, confirming the standard cosmological picture of our universe with ever greater accuracy. See, for example, http://www.mpa-garching.mpg.de/mpa/institute/ news_archives/news1101_planck/news1101_planck-en.html).

The detailed map of CMB temperature structures is a high-fidelity image of the boundary of our visible universe. It shows us its detailed structure when it was 40,000 times younger than today and gives us our best indication of what happened at even earlier times. The CMB carries additional clues about cosmic history encoded in its polarization. Light is polarized when it vibrates in a preferred direction, something that may arise as a result of photons bouncing off particles such as electrons. This is what happened when the CMB originated in the early universe. Planck´s polarization data provide an independent way to measure cosmological parameters and thus confirm the details of the standard cosmological picture determined from CMB temperature fluctuations.

However, as the CMB light travelled through space and time it was also influenced by the first stars. The polarization data now indicates that these started to shine about 550 million years after the Big Bang, ending the 'Dark Ages'. This is more than 100 million years later than previously thought. This later time helps to resolve a problem.

Previous studies of the CMB polarization seemed to point towards an earlier dawn of the first stars. However, very deep images of the sky indicated that the earliest known galaxies in the universe, forming perhaps 300-400 million years after the Big Bang, would not have been powerful enough to end the Dark Ages within 450 million years. The new evidence from Planck significantly reduces the problem. Adding another 100 million years allows the earliest stars and galaxies to ionize the leftover gas and make space transparent.

The Planck data just released also shows the polarization of foreground emission from gas and dust in the Milky Way. This allows mapping of the structure of the galactic magnetic field, providing unprecedented insights into the complex 'weather' phenomena of our Milky Way.

The new data has also enabled important insights into the early cosmos and the nature of its components. These include the intriguing dark matter and the elusive neutrinos.

The Planck data has delved into the even earlier history of the cosmos, all the way to inflation. This is the brief era of accelerated expansion that the universe underwent when it was a tiny fraction of a second old. As the ultimate probe of this epoch, astronomers are currently looking for a signature of gravitational waves triggered by inflation and later imprinted on the polarization of the CMB.

Earlier claims of a direct detection had to be revised in light of Planck´s maps of dust polarization, as reported in http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Planck/Planck_gravitat ional_waves_remain_elusive . Combining the newest Planck data with the latest results from other experiments, the limits on the amount of primordial gravitational waves have been pushed down, producing upper limits that already exclude some models for inflation.

See full text and images at http://www.mpa-garching.mpg.de/mpa/institute/news_archives/ news1502_aaa/news1502_aaa-en.html

-- From a Max Plank Institute for Astrophysics press release forwarded by Karen Pollard.


8. Last Notes from the 2014 Conference

With the 2015 Conference imminent, the last of the notes from the 2014 Conference are here cleared from the Editor's files. Throughout their intermittent publication the order of the notes has been in the order of presentation at the Conference except for our guest speaker, Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell. Omitted in the notes below is John Hearnshaw's long summary of the history of Mt John Observatory. That is now available in 'Mt John - The First 50 Years' published by Canterbury University Press. See http://www.cup.canterbury.ac.nz/catalogue/mt_john.shtml

------------ David Herald presented an analysis of lunar eclipse crater timings. For more than 150 years astronomers have tried to determine what height in the Earth´s atmosphere causes the shadow seen in lunar eclipses. There have been assertions that the shadow zone changes height with darkness of eclipse and with solar cycles. Also that the shadow is not round but wider at the equator. Attempts to test these assertions rely on timings of the shadow edge crossing particular craters. David analysed 22,000 crater timings since 1842 collected from archives by Joseph Ashbrook and Byron Soulsby. David concluded that a shadow height of 86.9 km gives the best fit all the time. He found no correlation with eclipse darkness or with solar cycles. Nor is there any evidence that increased atmospheric pollution is changing the shadow zone´s height. And Earth´s shadow is round to within the method´s accuracy.

John Drummond told of the history and mythology around the constellation of Argo and the ship´s keel, Carina. He then showed images of objects in Carina with some background on their astrophysical origins, ages, etc.

Gordon Hudson recounted the tribulations in getting weather instruments mounted on an 8-metre mast. The weather measurements are used to control the opening and closing of his dome. They are also available on his website.

Alan Gilmore and Pam Kilmartin tried to encourage observers to make follow-up observations of Near-Earth Asteroids. Increasing numbers of these objects are being found by search programmes. Some are lost for lack of further position measurements. Web pages at the Minor Planet Center, Astromentrica software and on-line star catalogues make the work easy once one has a telescope and CCD.

David Moriarty described his CCD photometry and analysis of the Eclipsing binary TW Crucis. Though it was discovered 84 years ago, it has been little observed. The system is a W Ursa Majoris binary where the two stars are elongated by their tidal forces. Observations suggest that the orbital period is increasing. David found that the maxima are asymmetric and suggests that this is caused by varying groups of star-spots, like sunspots but bigger.

Brian Loader showed how the separation and position angle of close double stars can be measured in lunar occultations. Seen in a video camera, the star appears to fade in stages as it disappears behind the moon, or brighten in stages as it reappears. Timings from a single station give a component of the stars´ separation. Timings from two widely-spaced stations give the separation and position angle. Three stations give a measure of the uncertainties in these quantities. Good video timings give an accuracy of 1 AU in 100 light-years. Results are published in the Journal of Double Star Observations, www.jdso.org.

Alister Brickell reviewed the astronomical and geological causes of climate changes. It is only recently, geologically speaking, that Earth has had ice at both polar caps at the same time. The current position of continents is implicated in this. Ice cores show that historically temperature begins to rise about 800 years before carbon dioxide increases in the atmosphere. Global air temperatures have not risen significantly in the past 15 years according to the latest IPCC Report.

Steve Chadwick presented a video tour of the Clouds of Magellan based on pictures taken from his backyard observatory. Some of the recent discoveries were eye-openers. Three supernovae remnants are found in the Small Cloud. One, a space-telescope discovery, is just 2000 years old. NGC 346 in the SMC is as big as the Eta Carinae Nebula and contains a whole story of star formation. The LMC has an overwhelming range of nebulae, clusters and supernovae remnants as well as the largest star-forming region in our corner of the universe.

Stan Walker wishes to encourage photometry with DSLR cameras of bright Cepheid variables. Stan and co-authors Glen Schrader and Mark Blackford have analysed photometry of six long-period Cepheid variables and found changes in their pulsation periods. Over 111 years the period of AQ Puppis has lengthened from 29.80 years to 30.14 days. These changes tell us about the evolution of these stars. More observations are sought.

John Drummond presented a history of giant telescopes and showed what is currently in production. William Herschel had the first really serious case of `aperture fever´. His culminated in a 48-inch aperture reflector. The Earl of Rosse managed a six-foot reflector in the 1840s. Like Herschel´s it had a speculum-metal mirror. Rosse´s reflector was used to discover the spiral in spiral nebulae but did little else. Giant refractors of the late 19th Century reached their limit at aperture 40-inches or 1-metre. Around the same time silver- on-glass mirrors were growing in size. Mt Wilson saw the installation of 60- and 100-inch mirrors at the beginning of the 20th century. Mt Palomar´s 200-inch (5-metre) telescope began work in the late 1940s. Except for an abortive effort at a Soviet 6-metre telescope in the 1970s, telescope sizes did not increase till new technologies arrived in the late 20th Century. One was the ability to make several mirrors work as one. This led to the Keck, Hobby-Eberly and SALT telescopes of 10-11 metres aperture. The second was spin-casting where the concave face of a single mirror is formed by spinning the mould in its furnace. This has enabled the casting of relatively thin single mirrors up to 8.3 metres aperture. Both technologies are being applied to make multi-mirror telescopes. The Giant Magellan telescope will use seven 8-metre mirrors together. The European Extremely large Telescope will combine smaller mirrors into an array 38 metres across.

Two poster papers were displayed. Ed Budding, Roger Butland, Mark Blackford and Roland Idaczyk presented their analysis of two binary systems, GG Lupi and Mu1 Scorpii. High resolution spectroscopy and BVR photometry were used. GG Lupi appears to be a pair of near-zero-age main sequence stars almost in contact with each other.

Gavin Logan titled his poster `New Zealand Dark Skies. Clean, green? What about all black?´ While the NZ tourism industry plays heavily on our supposed `clean, green´ image there is little effort to ensure that our populated areas can see the night sky. The Auckland Astronomical Society has been making submissions to local and central government for a number of years - happily noting that some elements of tackling light spill are now creeping into planning and lighting regulations. Overall awareness is still low so the Auckland Astronomical Society (AAS) has begun to assemble a small group of members to take measurements of sky brightness around the Auckland region. The main focus of the group is to raise the issue in political and public consciousness and look for the support of RASNZ members in establishing a NZ chapter of the International Dark Sky Association. Issues in hand include getting more focus on retrofitting of lights as well as specifying those for new buildings, the promotion of dimming and curfews, and the pros and cons of LED technology where existing `colour temperature´ measurements can fail to properly identify lighting with a high proportion of harmful blue light.


9. How to Join the RASNZ

RASNZ membership is open to all individuals with an interest in astronomy in New Zealand. Information about the society and its objects can be found at http://rasnz.org.nz/rasnz/membership-benefits A membership form can be either obtained from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by completing the online application form found at http://rasnz.org.nz/rasnz/membership-application Basic membership for the 2015 year starts at $40 for an ordinary member, which includes an electronic subscription to our journal 'Southern Stars'.


10. Gifford-Eiby Lecture Fund

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


11. Kingdon-Tomlinson Fund

The RASNZ is responsible for recommending to the trustees of the Kingdon Tomlinson Fund that grants be made for astronomical projects. The grants may be to any person or persons, or organisations, requiring funding for any projects or ventures that promote the progress of astronomy in New Zealand. Applications are now invited for grants from the Kingdon-Tomlinson Fund. The application should reach the Secretary by 1 May 2015. There will be a secondary round of applications later in the year. Full details are set down in the RASNZ By-Laws, Section J.

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



"America is the only country where a significant proportion of the population believes that professional wrestling is real but the moon landing was faked." - David Letterman.

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

"We are here on earth to do good unto others. What the others are here for, I have no idea." - W.H. Auden.

Newsletter editor:

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