RASNZ Electronic Newsletter December 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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for a copy. The latest issue is below.

Email Newsletter Number 180

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. RASNZ is Looking for an Archive Place
2. Murray Geddes Memorial Prize
3. 2016 Nominations for Council
4. Star Parties in January
5. Stardate SI, Staveley, February 5-8
6. The Solar System in January
7. NACAA Easter 2016
8. Call for Papers 2016 RASNZ Conference
9. 2016 Beatrice Hill Tinsley Lecturer
10. UTC to retain "leap second"
11. Will Phobos Create a Ring Around Mars?
12. LISA Pathfinder Launched
13. How to Join the RASNZ
14. Kingdon-Tomlinson Fund
15. Gifford-Eiby Lecture Fund
16. Report Cards for Famous Mathematicians

1. RASNZ is Looking for an Archive Place

Gordon Hudson, RASNZ Archivist writes:

The RASNZ urgently needs a space to store its ever increasing Archive. The archive is currently stored in the World War I gun bunker under the Dominion Observatory in Wellington, close to Carter Observatory. This bunker is owned by the Department of Conservation. We have use of it for the next six months, having already occupied it for the past six months. We have access to one room only and we are out-growing this space. What RASNZ needs is a more permanent storage space at least for the next four years.

Does anyone have any space they could lease to us at a low rental as we are a non-profit Society?

The current situation is that RASNZ does not have its own home where material can be stored and properly archived. Ideally we would like to take over the Dominion Observatory but the cost of renting one room is $9000 per year. RASNZ cannot afford to pay this sort of money.

The Dominion Observatory is currently leased to a commercial mapping business and they sub-lease to other small businesses. The lease runs out in 2020. I have spoken to DOC about the possibility of RASNZ taking over the lease as 2020 will be the 100 year anniversary of the RASNZ. This is a possibility which would have to be negotiated.

The Dominion Observatory is the original home of where RASNZ was created in 1920 with Charles Adam and James Hector. The original name of the Observatory was the Hector Observatory. It was the home of the NZ Time Service from 1907.

The RASNZ needs its own home as it is one of the few Astronomical Societies in NZ that does not have one. The home of RASNZ used to be the Carter Observatory and it is still its registered office. A return to the Carter Observatory is no longer possible as it has now been taken over by the Wellington City Council.

The Wellington Astronomical Society is in the same situation. It also needs a home. Both the RASNZ and WAS were based at the Carter Observatory.

If you can help please contact Gordon Hudson RASNZ Archivist at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

2. Murray Geddes Memorial Prize

Nominations for the Murray Geddes Memorial Prize are invited. This prize is awarded annually to a New Zealand resident who has made a contribution to astronomy in New Zealand. Nominations need to be sent to the Executive Secretary no later than 20 February 2015. The prize is normally awarded at the society´s conference dinner. More information can be found on the society´s web page http://www.rasnz.org.nz/rasnz/mg-prize

3. 2016 Nominations for Council

The current RASNZ Council term ends at the AGM in May next year. Nominations are called for Council for the period 2016-2018. Nominations are required for President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer and five Councillors elected by members. The current President may not stand for a second consecutive term, but is on council ex-officio as a Vice-President. In addition there are two Affiliated Societies representatives on Council and these are elected at the Affiliated Societies Committees meeting(again in May next year) and one fellows representative, nominated by and elected by Fellows of the society.

All members and Fellows of the society are eligible to hold office, and may be nominated by any members or Fellows. Only Fellows may propose or second candidates for the Fellows´ representative on Council.

All nominations should show clearly the name of the candidate and position sought the names and signatures of the proposer and seconder and also includes the nominee´s signed consent. Nominees may also include a resume of not more than 200 words, which would be included with the voting paper in the event of a postal election. A nomination form is available from the Executive Secretary at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Email nominations cannot be accepted as all nominations must be signed by the proposer, seconder and nominee. Nominations should be posted to the secretary to arrive no later than 20 February 2016 to the address given below. Should the number of nominations exceed the number of positions then a postal ballot will be conducted. Further information can be found on the website in the Rules and Bylaws http://www.rasnz.org.nz/images/articleFiles/Council/Rules2015.pdf

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. TUAKAU 2697 ----------

Does anyone want to be Newsletter Editor? - Ed.

4. Star Parties in January

Central Star Party, Hawkes Bay from Friday January 1st to Tuesday 5th (a.m.) at Tuki Tuki Camp, Hawkes Bay. For more details see http://www.censtar.party/Stardate 2016, at Stonehenge Aotearoa, near Carterton in the Wairarapa, January 8-10. Email Kay Leather: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with Stardate in the subject line. Full details of local accommodation are available at: http://www.stonehenge-aotearoa.co.nz/Tours++Treks/Booking+Your+Visit/Carterton+Accommodation.html

See earlier Newsletters for details of both gatherings.

5. Stardate SI, Staveley, February 5-8

Stardate SI will be held at the hostel and camp at Staveley between Friday February 5th and Monday February 8th, 2016. Come and join us for this magnificent celebration of astronomy, science, and the cosmos at large. For details see http://www.treesandstars.com/stardate/Link to the Facebook event for Stardate SI. If you are attending, then use this link to choose which DVDs you'd like to watch in the (we hope) unlikely event of cloudy weather

We look forward to seeing you there.

-- Euan Mason

6. The Solar System in January

Dates and times shown are NZDT (UT + 13 Hours) unless otherwise stated. Rise and set times are for Wellington. They will vary by a few minutes elsewhere in NZ.

Sunrise, sunset and twilight times in january

                         January  1  NZDT              January 31  NZDT
                morning     evening            morning    evening
      SUN: rise:   5.48am,  set: 8.59pm    rise: 6.21am,  set: 8.45pm
 Civil:    starts: 5.17am, ends: 9.31pm  starts: 5.53am, ends: 9.14pm
 Nautical: starts: 4.34am, ends:10.14pm  starts: 5.15am, ends: 9.52pm 
 Astro:    starts: 3.43am, ends:11.04pm  starts: 3.33am, ends:10.34pm

January PHASES OF THE MOON (times as shown by GUIDE)

          Last quarter:  January  2 at  6.30 pm (05:30 UT)
  New moon:      January 10 at  2.30 pm (01:30 UT)
  First quarter: January 17 at 12.26 pm (Jan 16, 23:26 UT) 
  Full moon:     January 24 at  2.46 pm (01:46 UT)

The Earth is at perihelion on January 3 at noon NZDT (Jan 2, 23 hrs UT). It will then be 147 million km from the Sun (0.9833 AU).

The planets in January

At the beginning of January only Mercury of the naked-eye planets will be in the evening sky. But, at best, it will be very difficult to see. After conjunction mid month, Mercury joins the other four naked eye planets in the morning sky. The early evening sky will then be bereft of naked eye planets. By the end of January, Jupiter will rise about 10.30 pm so be easily visible to the east by midnight.

MERCURY starts January as an evening object setting some 80 minutes after the Sun. On the 1st its magnitude will be -0.3 but with an altitude only 3.5 degrees, 45 minutes after sunset, it will be a difficult object. The Sun will be 8 degrees below the horizon so the westerly sky will still be bright making the planet difficult to see.

During the next few days Mercury gets closer to the Sun, especially after it is stationary on January 5 when the planet will start moving to the west and so towards the easterly moving Sun. Inferior conjunction is on January 14 when Mercury will be just under 50 million km from the Sun with the Earth 100 million km further out.

After conjunction Mercury becomes a morning object rising shortly before the Sun. The planet's westerly movement will take it quite quickly further from the Sun making it visible in the dawn sky. It is again stationary on January 26 by which date its motion away from the Sun will have slowed. On the last morning of January Mercury will rise almost 2 hours before the Sun. An hour after it rises the planet will be 8 degrees above the horizon with Venus the same distance above and to its left. At magnitude 0.3 Mercury should be fairly easy to see especially with Venus to act as a guide. But this is about 5.30 a.m.

VENUS remains a morning object rising about 140 minutes before the Sun all month. It starts January in Scorpius but moves into Ophiuchus on the morning of the 6th. Venus moves into Sagittarius on the 21st. On January 8 Venus will be 6 deg from Antares and on the 30th 3 degrees from the 2.8 magnitude star lambda Sgr.

As it moves to the east through the stars, Venus will overtake Saturn on January 9. At their closest, at about 5 pm, the two planets will be just over 5 arc minutes apart, about 1/6th of the moon's diameter. >From NZ on the 9th at 5 am the two planets will be just over half a degree apart with Venus to the left of Saturn. They will be a similar distance apart on the 10th but with Venus now on the right of Saturn.

The crescent moon is closest to the two planets on the morning of January 7 when it will be 5 degrees left of Venus and 7.5 degrees from Saturn. The following morning the moon as a thinner crescent will below and a little to the right of the planets.

MARS rises 4 hours before the Sun on January 1 and nearly 6 hours before it on the 31st. Mars will be considerably higher than Venus. The planet starts the month at magnitude 1.3 in Virgo, 6 degrees below Spica. On the 18th Mars moves into Libra where it ends month a little brighter, magnitude 0.8. The morning of the 31st finds Mars 1.5 degrees from the star alpha Lib, magnitude 2.73

The moon, 36% lit, is closest to Mars on the morning of the 4th. The moon will be 2.5 degrees to the left of Mars.

JUPITER starts January in Leo with the 65% lit moon less than a degree to its upper left. On the 1st Jupiter rises about 12.30 am, by the end of January it will rise just before 10.30 pm so becoming visible late evening.

The planet is stationary on the 9th so its position changes little during the month. It gets to within a quarter of a degree of the boundary of Leo with Virgo, but as it starts moving back to the west retreats from the latter constellation.

The moon, now 82% lit, returns to the vicinity of Jupiter towards the end of January. On the morning of the 28th the two will be close to 4 degrees apart just before sunrise. Later in the morning, well after they set, the two will be just over a degree apart

SATURN rises just under two hours before the Sun on January 1, over four hours before the Sun on the 31st. It is in Ophiuchus all month at magnitude 0.5. See the notes for Venus for further details.

Outer planets

URANUS remains in Pisces during January at magnitude 5.8 to 5.9. It is an evening object. By the end of January it will be setting about 11.30 pm.

NEPTUNE is also an evening object throughout January, by the end of the month it will set at 10.00 pm. The planet, magnitude 7.9, is in Aquarius.

PLUTO continues to be in Sagittarius throughout January at magnitude 14.4. It is at conjunction with the Sun on January 6, after which it becomes a morning object rising as much as 2 hours before the Sun by the 31st. At conjunction Pluto will be nearly 5.1 billion km, 34 AU from the Earth and just over 33 Au beyond the Sun.

BRIGHTER ASTEROIDS: (1) Ceres is an evening object setting just before midnight on the 1st. It starts January in Capricornus at magnitude 9.3; on the 15th it moves into Aquarius. By the 31st, when it sets at 10.18, Ceres will be just over 10 degrees from Neptune.

(4) Vesta is in Cetus during January. It fades a little during the month from magnitude 8.0 to 8.3. The asteroid will be 6 degrees from Uranus on the 31st when it will set just before midnight.

(15) Eunomia is an evening object in Pisces during January, its magnitude fading from 9.5 to 9.8. It sets just before 11 pm on the 31st.

(27) Euterpe starts January in Gemini at magnitude 8.8 and is in the sky almost the whole night. By the 31st it will be a magnitude fainter and sets by 3am. The asteroid moves into Taurus on January 6.

-- Brian Loader

7. NACAA Easter 2016

At the Australian astronomy conference (National Australian Convention of Amateur Astronomers) hosted by the Sutherland Astronomical Society astronomers from Australia and NZ will come together to share their knowledge on a range of topics such as variable stars, spectroscopy, occultations, comets, pro-am collaboration, citizen science and more. The convention will be held 25 to 28 March 2016 at Sydney University. On the Friday (25 March) the Variable Stars South Symposium 4 will be held and papers are currently being prepared. On the afternoon of Sunday and Monday (27-28 March) an Occultation Workshop (TTSO 10) will be held.

Other activities will be a workshop on image processing, guest speaker Fred Watson at the conference dinner, and a tour of historic Sydney Observatory.

Registration packages will range from half day to the full four days. When registrations open sometime in December, go to http://www.nacaa.org.au/

-- Copied from the NACCA website by Alan Baldwin.

8. Call for Papers 2016 RASNZ Conference

It is a pleasure to announce that the next conference of the Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand (RASNZ) will be held in Napier over the weekend of 20th - 22nd May 2016. Our guest speaker will be Dr. Michele Bannister (ex-Canterbury University and now University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada), and the Fellows Lecture for 2016 will be delivered by Brian Loader. Titles and abstracts for these talks will be released when they are available.

Following the conference an Astrophotography Workshop will be held on Monday/Tuesday 23rd-24th May. Details of the registration for this workshop will be available with the registration form for the conference. Note that this workshop will only be held if there is sufficient interest, so please register as soon as you can.

The RASNZ standing conference committee (SCC) invites and encourages anyone interested in New Zealand Astronomy to submit oral or poster papers, with titles and abstracts due by 1st April 2016 or at such time as the SCC deems the conference programme to be full. The link to the paper submission form can be found on the RASNZ conference website given below. 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.

We look forward to receiving your submissions and seeing you at the conference. Please feel free to forward this message to anyone who may find it of interest.

For further information on the RASNZ conference, registration details and associated events please visit the conference website at www.rasnz.org.nz/Conference

Sincerely yours, Warwick Kissling, RASNZ Standing Conference Committee.

9. 2016 Beatrice Hill Tinsley Lecturer

The RASNZ Lecture Trust is pleased to announce that the 2016 Beatrice Hill Tinsley lecturer will be Dr Michael Person. Dr Person is a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Planetary Astronomy Laboratory. His interests include observational astronomy, focusing on the techniques needed to observe stellar occultations, eclipses, and transits; and identifying and characterizing the atmospheres, compositions, and figures of solar system bodies. Dr Person has a special interest in distant solar system bodies, specifically Triton, Pluto, and Kuiper Belt Objects and so the lectures will focus on Pluto and the recent New Horizons mission. The lecture tour will take place during July-August 2016.

--- Gary Sparks, Secretary, RASNZ Lecture Trust.

10. UTC to retain "leap second"

New reference time scale to be considered by World Radiocommunication Conference in 2023.

The ITU World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15), at its meeting in Geneva in November, decided that further studies are required on the impact and application of a future reference time-scale, including the modification of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) and suppressing the so-called "leap second".

Leap seconds are added periodically to adjust to irregularities in the earth´s rotation in relation to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), the current reference for measuring time, in order to remain close to mean solar time (UT1). A leap second was added most recently on 30 June 2015 at 23:59:60 UTC. The proposal to suppress the leap second would have made continuous reference time-scale available for all modern electronic navigation and computerized systems to operate while eliminating the need for specialized ad hoc time systems.

The decision by WRC-15 calls for further studies regarding current and potential future reference time-scales, including their impact and applications. A report will be considered by the World Radiocommunication Conference in 2023. Until then, UTC shall continue to be applied as described in Recommendation ITU?R TF.460?6 and as maintained by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM).

WRC-15 also calls for reinforcing the links between ITU and the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM). ITU would continue to be responsible for the dissemination of time signals via radiocommunication and BIPM for establishing and maintaining the second of the International System of Units (SI) and its dissemination through the reference time scale.

Studies will be coordinated by ITU along with international organizations such as the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM), the International Committee for Weights and Measures (CIPM), the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM), the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS), the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG), the International Union of Radio Science (URSI), the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and the International Astronomical Union (IAU).

"Modern society is increasingly dependent on accurate timekeeping," said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. "ITU is responsible for disseminating time signals by both wired communications and by different radiocommunication services, both space and terrestrial, which are critical for all areas of human activity."

"The worldwide coordination of time signals is critical for the functioning and reliability of systems that depend on time," said François Rancy, Director of the ITU Radiocommunication Bureau. "ITU will continue to work with international organizations, industry and user groups towards providing coherent advice on current and potential future reference time-scales."

-- Slightly abridged from the ITU's website note forwarded by Howard Barnes.

11. Will Phobos Create a Ring Around Mars?

Dynamicists predict that the larger of Mars's two moons will shatter to create a ring, slam into the planet - or both - in 20 to 40 million years.

The Red Planet's two moons, discovered by Asaph Hall in 1877, are small and irregularly shaped. Deimos circles every 30.3 hours from an orbit that averages 20,100 km high. Larger Phobos, only 27 km long, orbits just 5,980 km above the Martian surface. In fact, Phobos hovers closer to its planet than any other moon in the solar system. That's not a good thing.

Because it whips around in just 7.7 hours, compared to the 24.7 hours that Mars takes to rotate, Phobos is doomed. Thanks to a teensy tidal interaction that its gravity creates in the Martian interior, this moon is slowly losing orbital energy and moving ever-so-slowly closer to the planet. Dynamicists predict that it should drop into the Martian atmosphere in perhaps 20 to 40 million years.

Arguably, Phobos should have performed its death dive long ago. But its small size minimizes the tidal torquing inside Mars, and it likely started out just inside the altitude (20,500 km) that would have synched its orbital period with the planet's spin rate. So it's taken 4½ billion years for Phobos to migrate this far inward.

As it gets closer to Mars, the tidal forces that are inexorably building within Phobos will start to tear it apart - and maybe they already are. Earlier this month, at the American Astronomical Society's Division for Planetary Sciences meeting, Terry Hurford (NASA Goddard) presented a new analysis of the numerous grooves found in the surface of Phobos. When the Viking orbiters first imaged these in 1976, geologists assumed they were fractures radiating from Stickney, a 10- km-wide pit that takes up a sixth of the moon's circumference. But, as Hurford and his collaborators point out, the fractures are actually mostly symmetric to the point on Phobos directly facing toward Mars. The implication is that The End has already begun. "We think that Phobos has already started to fail," Hurford says, as the moon is gradually distorted into an oblong shape. "And the first sign of this failure is the production of these grooves."

Right now the tidal forces exerted by Mars are too weak to be cracking Phobos open if its interior is solid throughout, which is how planetary scientists once envisioned this fast-moving moon. But the thinking these days is that Phobos is a big pile of rubble masked by a veneer of fine dust perhaps 100 meters thick. What's the evidence for that? The Stickney impact would have shattered a solid object, so the interior must have been at least partly fragmented when it endured that big whack. Also, the spectrum of Phobos is a dead ringer for that of the Tagish Lake meteorite, a porous carbonaceous chondrite that fell onto a frozen lake in 2000.

To Hurford and his team, all this suggests that the many grooves are akin to stretch marks created as the interior shifts around and fractures. Curiously, the pattern of grooves on the moon's northern half provides a remarkable fit to the stress calculations, yet the southern half has grooves oriented much more randomly. Some grooves appear fresher than others, implying that the tidal deconstruction of Phobos is going on now.

Yet To Come: A Ring Around Mars? The timetable for Phobos' demise depends critically on how much of a tide its gravity is creating inside Mars, and estimates for that vary. If the Martian interior is relatively "squishy," yielding stronger tides, then Phobos has at most 25 million years before its ultimate plunge. A stiffer Mars, which some researchers support, might give the moon another 70 million years.

Regardless, bad things will happen to Phobos once its orbit drops too close to the Martian surface. Exactly what will take place and when depends on the moon's interior structure, and researchers Benjamin A. Black and Tushar Mittal (University of California, Berkeley) examine the possible outcomes in the November 21st issue of Nature Geoscience. They conclude that Phobos won't simply plunge intact into Mars. Instead, it's more likely that the moon's dusty, outer layer will stripped away first, creating a temporary ring around Mars very quickly - in just a week or so.

Once Phobos comes close enough to Mars, the planet's gravity will create tides in the moon's interior strong enough to tear it apart. One possible outcome is that the moon's outer layers will be drawn away first, rapidly creating a ring around Mars that could last for tens of millions of years.

Depending on how much mass it sucks away from the moon, the ring might initially rival Saturn's in its particle density - but Saturn's will likely still appear brighter because its ring consists of icy bits whereas particles in a Phobos-derived ring would be nearly black. In any case, Black and Mittal calculate that, once formed, the ring could linger for anywhere from 1 to 100 million years.

Meanwhile, the solid chunks of Phobos will meet a quicker end. They'll strike the surface, creating a series of oblique craters around the planet's equator. If big pieces break apart while plunging through the atmosphere, they could strafe the surface and create chains of craters sorted in size by the fragments' masses. Then that beautiful but ephemeral ring will be all that remains of Phobos, and Deimos (out of danger thanks to its higher orbit) will become Mars' lone moon.

-- Copied from Kelly Beatty's article on Sky and Telescope's webpage, 27 November 2015. See the original with pictures and diagrams at http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/will-phobos-create-a-ring-112720155/ See also the NASA Goddard press release at www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/phobos-is-falling-apart Thanks to Karen Pollard for passing along this link.

12. LISA Pathfinder Launched

The European Space Agency's LISA Pathfinder was launched on December 3. It is a forerunner to the full-fledged Evolved Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (eLISA) project and will test the technologies key to conducting long-baseline laser interferometry in space.

Coming almost exactly 100 years after Einstein proposed his theory of general relativity, this mission will prove vital in the hunt for one of the theory´s more bizarre predictions: gravitational waves. The equations of general relativity say that accelerating massive objects, such as exploding stars or a pair of whirling black holes, ought to send ripples through spacetime. There´s solid indirect evidence that gravitational waves exist, but direct detection has eluded scientists so far.

LISA Pathfinder paves the way for eLISA, the Evolved Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, which will take that hunt into space. Slated for launch in 2034, eLISA will use three free-flying spacecraft to create a triangular baseline a million kilometres on a side - a feat impossible on Earth. Lasers will measure the position of two masses suspended at the end of each arm, and then researchers will analyse the data to look for the very slight jiggling induced by gravitational waves passing by. The unique setup and location will give eLISA an unprecedented sensitivity.

The setup poses several engineering challenges. To reduce the risk, LISA Pathfinder serves as a testbed for these new technologies, basically mimicking one arm of the future eLISA triplet.

The spacecraft will circle around a stable Lagrangian point (L1) 1.5 million km sunward of Earth. The mission is designed to last only 180 days, during which LISA Pathfinder will perform a miniaturized test of so-called "precision metrology," the fine measurements vital to detecting gravitational waves. The spacecraft carries two 46-mm-wide gold-platinum masses suspended in separate vacuum compartments and separated by 38 cm (scaled down from eLISA´s eventual 1,000,000-km-long baseline). Researchers aim to detect relative motion between the two masses with an accuracy down to 10 picometres, or 10 times a million- millionth of a metre.

In addition, LISA Pathfinder will test propulsion, laser ranging, and gravitational sensors built for the full-up eLISA mission. The mission will also demonstrate the first use of a micro-newton electric propulsion system.

13. 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'.

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. Applications are now invited for grants from the Kingdon-Tomlinson Fund. The application should reach the Secretary by 1 May 2016. 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.

15. 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

16. Report Cards for Famous Mathematicians

Pierre de Fermat. B+. Pierre is an insightful problem-solver, but he must do a better job of showing his work. He has a bad habit of skipping crucial steps.

Albert Einstein. D. Though a promising student, Albert has not internalized the key concepts of Newtonian mechanics. Gravity is a force, Albert! Please learn the basics.

Richard Feynman. C. Despite his strong potential, Richard spends most lessons playing the fool. Focus, Richard! You simply cannot be a serious thinker and a mischief-maker!

Alan Turing. C-. Instead of solving problems by hand, Alan insists on using his calculator for every question. He will never make progress if he lets a machine do his thinking for him!

Andrew Wiles. B-. After an excellent first quarter, Andrew wasted the entire second quarter on a single challenge problem, refusing to do other work despite making no progress. Please invest your time more wisely, Andrew!

Euclid. B. Euclid is very careful and methodical. Unfortunately, his caution sometimes hardens into stubbornness. For example, he insists on proving every single statement before accepting its truth. Try to work more efficiently, Euclid!

Carl Gauss. A-. Carl is a very clever young man! However, he sometimes employs shortcuts of his own devising rather than solving problems by the proper methods. This is an area for him to improve next semester.

Gottfried Leibniz. Incomplete. I am sorry to report that Gottfried turned in a final project suspiciously similar to another student's. Both Gottfried and Isaac have accused the other of plagiarism. I am withholding a final grade until this serious matter is resolved.

---- See the original at http://mathwithbaddrawings.com/2015/12/02/report-cards-for-famous-mathematicians/Thanks to Ned Gilmore for passing along the link.


"Eternity's a terrible thought. I mean, where's it all going to end?" -- Tom Stoppard.

"Good judgement comes from experience, and often experience comes from bad judgement." -- Rita Mae Brown.

"When you're through changing, you're through." -- Garry Shandling.

"Misquotation is, in fact, the pride and privilege of the learned. A widely-read man never quotes accurately, for the rather obvious reason that he has read too widely." -- Hesketh Pearson.

Seasons greetings to all our readers. Ed.

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