RASNZ Electronic Newsletter January 2016

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 181

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. Roy Kerr Shares Crafoord Prize in Astronomy
2. RASNZ is Still Looking for an Archive Space
3. Murray Geddes Memorial Prize
4. 2016 Nominations for Council
5. Stardate SI, Staveley, February 5-8
6. The Solar System in February
7. Variable Stars South Symposium 4
8. Call for Papers 2016 RASNZ Conference
9. The Most Distant Solar System Planet Found (so far)
10. Closest Potentially Habitable Exo-Planet (so far)
11. Aliens in Globs?
12. Time's Pick of Most Beautiful Space Photos
13. For Sale - 12 Foot (3.7 metre) Dome and Accessories
14. NZ's First Professional Telescope Maker
15. A New Book About New Zealand Astronomical History
16. How to Join the RASNZ
17. Kingdon-Tomlinson Fund
18. Gifford-Eiby Lecture Fund

1. Roy Kerr Shares Crafoord Prize in Astronomy

The Crafoord Prize in Astronomy has been awarded to Roy Kerr and Roger Blandford. Canterbury University's Head of Physics and Astronomy notes that it is the equivalent of a Nobel Prize for Astronomy, and Kerr's award may well be the biggest prize awarded to anyone at Canterbury for over a century! Rutherford was a former student.

Black holes are the origin of the universe´s most powerful light, with rays that can stretch many thousands of light years out into space. Roger Blandford´s theoretical work deals with the violent processes behind this strong radiation. Roy Kerr created one of the most important tools in modern astrophysics and cosmology early in his career, when he discovered a mathematical description of rotating black holes before anyone had even seen them.

Black holes are the strangest result of the general theory of relativity. When Albert Einstein finally presented his theory, in November 1915, he described gravity as a geometric property of space and time, spacetime. All massive space objects bend spacetime; they create a pit into which smaller objects can fall. The greater the mass, the deeper the pit. The mass of a black hole is so great that nothing that ends up in there can escape, not even light.

It took until 1963 for someone to solve Einstein´s equations for black holes that could possibly be found in the universe - rotating black holes - and it was mathematician Roy Kerr who succeeded. At about the same time, astronomers discovered galaxies that emitted light that was so strong it outshone several hundred ordinary galaxies. They were named quasars. Nothing other than a black hole could give the quasars their luminosity.

So how is the strong light of rotating black holes created? This question was answered by Roger Blandford in 1977. Ever since, he has refined and made more realistic models of how gas surrounding a black hole flows towards it, is heated up and transforms some of its gravitational energy to radiation. At the same time, electrically charged particles are sent millions of kilometres into space in the form of powerful jets. The source of all of this power is the rotational energy of the massive black hole.

Roy Kerr was born 1934 in Kurow, New Zealand. He got his PhD 1959 at University of Cambridge and is now Emeritus Professor at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand.

Roger Blandford was born 1949 in Grantham, Great Britain; PhD at Cambridge in 1974.

See the Royal Swedish Academy's full press release at http://www.crafoordprize.se/press/arkivpressreleases/thecrafoordprizesinmathematicsandastronomy2016.5.76308e0c152098549fa15a0.html

2. RASNZ is Still Looking for an Archive Space

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. The RASNZ is one of the few Astronomical Societies in NZ that does not have one. It used to reside in the Carter Observatory and that 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.

3. 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

4. 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.

5. Stardate SI, Staveley, February 5-8

It's time to register for Stardate SI, which will be held over a three day weekend from Feb 5-8. Dr Grant Christie is our special guest. Enjoy the friendship of fellow astronomers under an ink-black sky, hear talks, and relax in a holiday setting. More info and registration can be found at: http://www.treesandstars.com/stardate/

-- Euan Mason

6. The Solar System in February

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 february

                         February  1  NZDT             February 29  NZDT
                morning     evening            morning    evening
      SUN: rise:   6.23am,  set:  8.44pm   rise: 6.58am,  set: 8.07pm
 Civil:    starts: 5.55am, ends: 9.13pm  starts: 6.32am, ends: 8.34pm
 Nautical: starts: 5.17am, ends: 9.51pm  starts: 5.58am, ends: 9.07pm 
 Astro:    starts: 4.34am, ends:10.33pm  starts: 5.23am, ends: 9.43pm

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

          Last quarter:  February  1 at  4.28 pm (03:28 UT)
  New moon:      February  9 at  3.39 am (Feb  8, 14:39 UT)
  First quarter: February 15 at  8.47 pm (07:47 UT) 
  Full moon:     February 23 at  7.20 am (Feb 22, 18:20 UT)

The planets in February

Jupiter will be in the sky from soon after sunset by the end of February. The other planets remain objects of the morning sky. Venus and Mercury are a close pair in the dawn sky and will be an interesting to watch as their distance apart vary during the month. The asteroid (5) Astraea is at a particularly good opposition mid-February.

MERCURY and VENUS form a pair of planets rather low in the dawn sky throughout February. At the beginning of the month both planets will be in Sagittarius. During February they move into Capricornus, Mercury on the 14th and Venus three mornings later.

On the morning of the 1st, Mercury rises almost 2 hours before the Sun, with Venus rising some 35 minutes earlier. Mercury will be half a degree below the 2.9 magnitude star pi Sgr, with Venus some 7 degrees above Mercury.

During the first half of February Venus will close in on Mercury until the two are some 4 degrees apart mid-month. After that as Mercury's rate of motion increases it will draw further ahead of Venus until the two are again 7 degrees apart by the end of the month. Mercury will remain a few degrees below Venus and a little to its right all month.

Mercury's magnitude brightens from 0.1 to -0.3 during February. It reaches its greatest elongation, 26 degrees west of the Sun on the 7th. By the end of February Mercury rises some 95 minutes before the Sun, with Venus rising half an hour earlier. An hour before sunrise, Mercury will be only 6 degrees above the horizon

MARS rises half an hour after midnight on the 1st advancing to 11:45 pm by the 29th. The planet is in Libra, near the wide binary star alpha Lib at the beginning of the month. The two are closest on the 2nd when Mars, magnitude 0.8, will be a degree below the pair, with the 45% lit moon 4.5 degrees lower than Mars. For the rest of the month Mars makes its way eastwards through Libra but doesn't pass close to any bright stars.

At midnight on the 29th February the moon will again be near Mars, some 5.5 degrees from the planet which will have brightened to magnitude 0.3. A few hours later, on the morning of March 1, the two will be 4 degrees apart

JUPITER is in Leo during February. On the 1st it rises about 10.20 pm, by the end of February it will rise almost 2 hours earlier, some 15 minutes after the Sun sets, so the planet should be readily visible by mid evening.

In the late evening of February 24, the almost full moon will be 4 degrees to the left of Jupiter; their separation increases to 6.5 degrees a little before sunrise the following morning when Jupiter will appear below the moon.

SATURN rises shortly after 2 am on the 1st and 20 minutes after midnight on the 29th. So it is still a morning object. The planet is in Ophiuchus about 8 degrees below Antares, as seen in the morning sky. At magnitude 0.5, Saturn is a little brighter than the star.

On the morning of February 4, the 26% lit moon will be 4 degrees to the lower left of Saturn

Outer planets

URANUS remains in Pisces during February at magnitude 5.9. It is an evening object setting just before 11.30 pm on the 1st and just after 8.30 pm, 90 minutes after the Sun, on the 29th.

NEPTUNE, in Aquarius, sets about 70 minutes after the Sun on February 1. It is at conjunction with the Sun on the 29th. At conjunction Neptune will be half a degree south of the Sun as seen from Earth. The planet will then be 4.63 billion km, 30.95 AU, from Earth and 29.95 AU beyond the Sun.

BRIGHTER ASTEROIDS: (4) Vesta, magnitude 8.3, starts February in Cetus. On the 1st, Vesta will set just before midnight. Early in the month the asteroid is just over 5 degrees from Uranus. On the 12th Vesta joins Uranus in Pisces but their distance apart will gradually increase. By February 29 Vesta will set about 10.20 pm.

(5) Astraea. This 125 km diameter asteroid is in Leo and starts February at magnitude 9.3. On the 1st it will rise at 9.19 pm at Wellington. The asteroid will then be just over half a degree above Regulus, mag 1.4, with no other star as bright as Astraea between the two. This will make finding Astraea fairly easy in the late evening.

Astraea is at opposition mid February with a magnitude 8.7. By then it will be some 3 degrees left of Regulus as seen late evening. At opposition it will be 2.086 AU from the Sun, very close to its perihelion, and 1.1 AU from Earth. The relatively close approach makes this a particularly favourable opposition for observation. By the end of February, Astraea will be back to magnitude 9.3

-- Brian Loader

7. Variable Stars South Symposium 4

Variable Stars South Symposium 4 is one day of papers covering the observation and analysis of variable stars. It is being held Friday 25th March (Good Friday) at the Law School, University of Sydney. Results of instrumental (CCD and DSLR) and visual observing will be presented. Some of the types of variable stars being discussed are southern eclipsing binaries, evolving stars and irregular variables; some examples of stars being discussed are EB V0626 Sco and V0775 Cen, BC Gru; RR Sco, QZ Car, Theta Aps, WZ Sgr, RZ Vel, DI Car, SN1987A.There will also be additional presentations in poster papers available for discussion in the break sessions.

As well as the presentations at this event there is the opportunity for you to meet and discuss informally issues and techniques with practioners in their field.

The VSS Symposium is being held in conjunction with the Australian NACAA (National Australian Convention of Amateur Astronomers) Conference. For the VSS Programme go to www.nacaa.org.au select the 2016 tab, then go to the LHS - Programme - Friday. The NACAA programme on Saturday and Sunday is also detailed on the website, along with full information on the Conference.

-- 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. The Most Distant Solar System Planet Found (so far)

An ultra-deep sky survey has turned up a sizable object situated 15 billion km from the Sun - more distant than any known solar-system object currently visible.

It was found in a pair of images taken 5½-hours apart with Japan's 8- meter Subaru Telescope atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii on October 13. Designated V774104 by its discoverers, it lies 103 a.u. away in the direction of west-central Pisces - that's about 15.4 billion km. (1 a.u. is Earth's distance from the sun.) The object's apparent movement in the 5½-hour interval gave a first measure of its extraordinary distance. The movement was not due to the object's own motion but to the movement of the Earth over that time. An object around 100 a.u. away will shift about 1.3 arcseconds per hour, so is easily detected in a few hours.

V774104 is so distant that it will take another year of study to determine its orbit. All that is currently known its distance. Given its brightness - just 24th magnitude - and assuming that its surface is 15% reflective, the object might be 500 km across.

Dynamicists will be eager to learn what kind of orbit V774104 occupies. A highly eccentric track would mean that it periodically swings much closer to the Sun. That's the case with Eris, which likely got flung into its 558-year-long orbit after a gravitational encounter with Neptune eons ago.

But if the orbit is more circular, or if V774104 was found near perihelion, then it's completely decoupled from the massive planets - and that will cause dynamicists to question how it got out there. Two other distant objects, Sedna and 2012 VP113, are also in this kind of orbital limbo. There's no consensus on why they're out there; possible causes run the gamut from gravitational stirring of the even more distant Oort Cloud by a close-passing star to the presence of an undiscovered massive planet far beyond the orbit of Neptune. Or they might be the first-found members of the inner Oort Cloud.

Observed Solar System objects that periodically become more distant than 103 AU from the Sun include Sedna (which is similar or modestly larger in size), 2000 CR105, 2012 DR30, 2013 BL76, and 2005 VX3. There are 589 known objects that have aphelia more than 103 AU from the Sun.[14] This distance is about double the outer limit of the torus- shaped Kuiper Belt that lies outside Neptune's orbit. Far beyond this region is the vast spherical Oort cloud enshrouding the Solar System, whose presence was deduced from the orbits of long-period comets.

See Kelly Beatty's article and images on Sky & Telescope's webpage at http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/v774104-most-distant-solar-system-object-11212015/See also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V774104

-- Mostly abridged from Kelly Beatty's note. The last paragraph is from Wikipedia.

10. Closest Potentially Habitable Exo-Planet (so far)

A potentially habitable planet has been found orbiting the relatively nearby red dwarf star Wolf 1061. The star is 14 light years away. The planet is one of three orbiting Wolf 1061. They were found by a team from the University of New South Wales led by New Zealander Duncan Wright, a Canterbury University astronomy graduate.

The three newly detected planets orbit the small, relatively cool M- type star about every five, 18 and 67 days. Their masses are at minimum 1.4, 4.3 and 5.2 times that of Earth, respectively. All three are thought to be rocky like the Earth or Venus, rather than gaseous like Neptune, due to their estimated mass and radius. Of the three planets, one is too close to the star and hence too hot for life, and the other is too far out, and hence too cold. The middle planet could be just right.

That planet, Wolf 1061c, orbits the star every 18 days at a distance about 10 per cent of Earth's orbit of the sun. However, the red dwarf star is substantially cooler than the sun, about 3300 Kelvin compared with the sun's surface temperature of about 5800 Kelvin.

Given how close the planet is to the star it is likely to be 'tidally locked'. This means that one hemisphere of the planet will always face towards the star, much like one side of the moon always faces Earth. This makes one side of the planet hot and the other side cool. Dr Wright said that atmospheric modelling shows that heat can circulate around such a planet, albeit producing very high winds across the permanent twilight zone between the two sides.

Dr Wright's team used the Doppler method to detect the planets. As the planets orbit the star it moves around the centre of mass of the system. These small movements create a Doppler shift in the star's light making it slightly bluer or redder as the star moves towards us or away from us.

By measuring the nature of this wobble from the star's light, scientists are able to get a very accurate picture of what is causing this movement. They are able to tell the number of objects, their distance from the star, as well as their estimated mass and orbital period.

The team used observations of Wolf 1061 collected by the HARPS spectrograph at the European Southern Observatory's 3.6 metre telescope in La Silla, Chile. It can measure star velocities to about a one metre per second precision.

The next step will be to look for transits of the planets in front of the star. The small dip in light caused by the planets passing in front of the star will allow scientists to find out more about this planetary system.

"The close proximity of the planets around Wolf 1061 means there is a good chance these planets may pass across the face of the star. If they do, then it may be possible to study the atmospheres of these planets in future to see whether they would be conducive to life," said team member Rob Wittenmyer.

Dr Wright is keen for this discovery to have some galactic perspective. "There is somewhere in the vicinity of 100 billion stars in our galaxy," he said. "We know that half of those stars are red dwarf stars, like Wolf 1061. From observations made by the Kepler space telescope, we also know that half of those stars are expected to have multiple rocky planets orbiting them.

"So if you consider our find in that context we are talking about billions and billions of rocky planets in our galaxy alone. And of course we know of more than 100 billion galaxies in the universe."

See the original article by Marcus Strom with graphics and links at http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/australia/75209794/scientists-find-closest-potentially-habitable-planet-to-earth--just-14-light-years-away

11. Aliens in Globs?

Globular star clusters are extraordinary in almost every way. They´re densely packed, holding a million stars in a ball only about 100 light- years across on average. They´re old, dating back almost to the birth of the Milky Way. And according to new research, they also could be extraordinarily good places to look for space-faring civilizations.

"A globular cluster might be the first place in which intelligent life is identified in our galaxy," says lead author Rosanne Di Stefano of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA). Di Stefano presented this research in early January in a press conference at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

Our Milky Way galaxy hosts about 150 globular clusters, most of them orbiting in the galactic outskirts. They formed about 10 billion years ago on average. As a result, their stars contain fewer of the heavy elements needed to construct planets, since those elements (like iron and silicon) must be created in earlier generations of stars. Some scientists have argued that this makes globular cluster stars less likely to host planets. In fact, only one planet has been found in a globular cluster to date.

However, Di Stefano and her colleague Alak Ray (Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai) argue that this view is too pessimistic. Exoplanets have been found around stars only one-tenth as metal-rich as our Sun. And while Jupiter-sized planets are found preferentially around stars containing higher levels of heavy elements, research finds that smaller, Earth-sized planets show no such preference. So it is premature to say there are no planets in globular clusters.

Another concern is that a globular cluster´s crowded environment would threaten any planets that do form. A neighbouring star could wander too close and gravitationally disrupt a planetary system, flinging worlds into icy interstellar space.

However, a star´s habitable zone -- the distance at which a planet would be warm enough for liquid water -- varies depending on the star. While brighter stars have more distant habitable zones, planets orbiting dimmer stars would have to huddle much closer. Brighter stars also live shorter lives, and since globular clusters are old, those stars have died out. The predominant stars in globular clusters are faint, long-lived red dwarfs. Any potentially habitable planets they host would orbit nearby and be relatively safe from stellar interactions.

So if habitable planets can form in globular clusters and survive for billions of years then there is ample time for life to become increasingly complex, and even potentially develop intelligence.

Such a civilization would enjoy a very different environment than our own. The nearest star to our solar system is four light-years away or about 40 million million km. In contrast, the nearest star within a globular cluster could be about 20 times closer -- just 2000 billion km away. This would make interstellar communication and exploration significantly easier.

"We call it the `globular cluster opportunity,´" says Di Stefano. "Sending a broadcast between the stars wouldn´t take any longer than a letter from the U.S. to Europe in the 18th century."

"Interstellar travel would take less time too. The Voyager probes are 100 billion miles from Earth, or one-tenth as far as it would take to reach the closest star if we lived in a globular cluster. That means sending an interstellar probe is something a civilization at our technological level could do in a globular cluster," she adds.

The closest globular cluster to Earth is still several thousand light- years away, making it difficult to find planets, particularly in a cluster´s crowded core. But it could be possible to detect transiting planets on the outskirts of globular clusters. Astronomers might even spot free-floating planets through gravitational lensing, in which the planet´s gravity magnifies light from a background star.

A more intriguing idea might be to target globular clusters with SETI search methods, looking for radio or laser broadcasts. The concept has a long history: In 1974 astronomer Frank Drake used the Arecibo radio telescope to broadcast the first deliberate message from Earth to outer space. It was directed at the globular cluster Messier 13 (M13).

For the original text and images see https://www.cfa.harvard.edu/news/2016-01

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

12. Time's Pick of Most Beautiful Space Photos

For a collection of superb photos of all kinds of objects, taken with many different technologies, see: http://time.com/3644785/space-most-beautiful-photos-2014/

-- Thanks to Peter Hogg for passing along the link.

13. For Sale - 12 Foot (3.7 metre) Dome and Accessories

Peter Aldous, Geraldine, South Canterbury, writes: I am offering for sale my 12-foot dome with the following accessories for $4,500. The accessories include Digital Dome works dome automation package (original cost $2940); AAG cloud sensor ($746); shutter motor ($897); power supply ($166); four electric motors ($1794). The total value of accessories is $6543.

Contact Peter Aldous <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.> ; phone 03 693 7337.

14. NZ's First Professional Telescope Maker

Wayne Orchiston writes:-

The following research paper has just been published, and will be of interest to some NZ astronomers: Orchiston, W., Romick, C., and Brown, P., 2015. James Henry Marriott: New Zealand's first professional telescope-maker. Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage, 18, 261-276.

Copies can be downloaded free of charge from the ADS web site or the web site of the National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand. Alternatively, if you email me (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) I can forward you a pdf copy.

Professor Wayne Orchiston National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

15. A New Book About New Zealand Astronomical History

Wayne Orchiston adds:-

Springer has just published the following book Orchiston, W., 2016. Exploring the History of New Zealand Astronomy: Trials, Tribulations, Telescopes and Transits. Pp. xlv + 688, 397 illustrations.

This book spans the period from the Maori settlement of Aotearao/New Zealand, through to about 1960. As well as dealing with Maori astronomy and the nautical astronomy associated with Cook´s three voyages, it identifies Wellington´s first European astronomers and New Zealand´s oldest surviving astronomical observatory, and discusses the emergence of professional astronomy in New Zealand, historically- significant telescopes now in New Zealand, the 1874 and 1882 transits of Venus, the 1885 total solar eclipse, some of the nation´s leading amateur astronomers and telescope-makers (e.g. John Grigg, Ronald McIntosh, Joseph Ward and C.J. Westland), and pioneering efforts in radio astronomy during the 1940s.

details of how to access the discount price. ----------

For an advance copy of the book's flyer, with price and discount details -- a 2.8 MB PDF -- email Ed. Address at end of Newsletter.

16. 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'.

17. 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.

18. 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


"Put three grains of sand inside a vast cathedral, and the cathedral will be more closely packed with sand than space is with stars." -- Sir James Jeans.

"In the beginning there was nothing. God said, 'Let there be light.' And there was light. There was still nothing, but you could see it much better." -- Ellen DeGeneres.

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