RASNZ Electronic Newsletter September 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 189

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. Asteroid "New Zealand"
2. 2016 Burbidge Dinner - 8th October
3. The Solar System in October
4. Norman Dickie's Century Celebration - October 1-2
5. PhD Scholarships in Astrophysics
6. Foxton Beach Astrophotography Weekend 25-27 November
7. Variable Star News
8. Rosetta's Final Descent
9. Philae Found!
10. Memories of Bruce Slee
11. Proxima Centauri's Planet
12. Gaia Plots a Billion Stars
13. How to Join the RASNZ
14. Gifford-Eiby Lecture Fund
15. Kingdon-Tomlinson Fund

1. Asteroid "New Zealand"

There's now a version of New Zealand in space. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has formally approved the name "New Zealand" for an asteroid orbiting in the Main Belt of asteroids between Mars and Jupiter.

The space rock, estimated to be around one kilometre across, was named by its discoverer, Auckland astronomer Jennie McCormick. Her initial discovery was made on 16 September 2009, when the asteroid happened to be at its closest point to Earth and therefore at its brightest. Even so, it was exceedingly faint and could easily have been missed. McCormick noticed the very faint moving object in images she was making of a comet, and it was a lucky coincidence that both objects just happened to lie within the narrow field of her telescope.

"I always like to check every image I take just in case it shows up something unexpected," said McCormick, an internationally recognised amateur astronomer who runs the Howick-based Farm Cove observatory. "So it was rather thrilling to finally find an asteroid that had so far escaped detection by much larger telescopes."

She immediately sent the position of the new object to both Stardome and Mt John Observatories so that over the following nights and months further supporting observations could be obtained. Since McCormick's discovery, the asteroid has been observed by a number of observatories around the world and its orbit is now very well determined. Continued below.

It orbits the Sun once every 3.49 years and comes closest to Earth only once every seven years. It was during one of these closer passes to Earth that McCormick happened to spot it, and at any other time, it would have been too faint to see with her telescope.

On average, "New Zealand" is 345 million km from the sun and never gets closer than about 128 million km to Earth.

Stardome astronomer Dr Grant Christie noted that "It was quite an achievement to discover an asteroid this faint with a smaller telescope than ours from the middle of Auckland." Over the last decade or two, all the large - and bright - asteroids have been found by intensive professional surveys, and only the small faint ones remain undiscovered. To date over 700,000 asteroids have been catalogued but only 2 per cent have yet received a name.

McCormick has been conducting astronomical research from her observatory for the last 16 years, during which she has studied a wide range of celestial objects and collected thousands of hours of scientific data.

Further to the discovery of "New Zealand", also numbered asteroid "386622", McCormick has contributed to over 50 papers published in major scientific journals and has contributed to the discovery of 19 exoplanets, or planets orbiting other stars.

It's not the first time an object in space has received a name with a Kiwi link: New Zealand astronomers have named objects, and some objects have been named after famous Kiwis, including a crater on Mercury for artist Frances Hodgkins and a crater on the Moon for Sir Ernest Rutherford.

-- Adapted from an article in the NZ Herald. See the original at http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11711238

The basic orbital elements for asteroid (386622) New Zealand are a = 2.301 AU, e = 0.194, i = 7.07 degrees, P = 3.49 years.

2. 2016 Burbidge Dinner - 8th October

The Auckland Astronomical Society's Burbidge Dinner is on Saturday 8th October at Alexandra Park. Our guest speaker is Doug Simons from the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope. The early bird discount is available to RASNZ & other Society members. Last day to order tickets will be 30 September.

The full text and details are at https://www.astronomy.org.nz/new/public/events.aspx

-- Andrew Buckingham

3. The Solar System in October

Dates and times shown are NZDT (UT + 13 hours).

Rise and set times are for Wellington. They will vary by a few minutes elsewhere in NZ.

Sunrise, sunset and twilight times in October

                          October  1  NZDT              October 30  NZDT
                  morning  evening              morning  evening
SUN:        rise: 6.52am,  set: 7.28pm     rise: 6.06am,  set: 8.03pm
Civil:    starts: 6.27am, ends: 7.55pm   starts: 5.39am, ends: 8.31pm
Nautical: starts: 5.55am, ends: 8.27pm   starts: 5.03am, ends: 9.07pm
Astro:    starts: 5.21am, ends: 9.01pm   starts: 4.24am, ends: 9.46pm

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

          New moon:      October  1 at  1.11 pm (00:11 UT)
  First quarter: October  9 at  5.33 pm (04:33 UT)
  Full moon:     October 16 at  5.23 pm (04:23 UT)
  Last quarter   October 23 at  8.14 am (Oct 22, 19:14 UT)
  New moon:      October 31 at  6.38 am (Oct 30, 17:38 UT)

The planets in October 2016

Mercury is too close to the Sun for observation throughout October as is Jupiter for most of the month. Venus climbs a little further into the evening sky and passes Saturn. Mars remains well placed in the evening sky.

MERCURY starts October as a morning object but rises only 24 minutes before the Sun. During the rest of October it gets closer to the Sun until at superior conjunction on the 28th. The planet will then be 214 million km from the Earth (1.43 AU) and some 65 million km beyond the Sun. By the end of October Mercury, nominally an evening object, will set about 10 minutes after then Sun

VENUS becomes even more prominent in the evening sky in October. It sets two hours and forty after the Sun on the 1st increasing to three and a quarter hours later on the 31st, that is after 11 pm. The planet starts the month in Libra, moves into Scorpius on the 18th and on into Ophiuchus on the 25th. A night later Venus will be 3° from Antares. On the 30th it will be 3° from Saturn. Its path in Ophiuchus takes it about midway between Antares and Saturn with the three virtually in line on the evening of the 28th.

Much earlier in the month, a thin crescent moon is 7° from Venus on the evening of October 4.

MARS remains an evening object in Sagittarius during October setting about 2 am by the end of the month. It slowly dims a little during the month as the Earth pulls away from the planet

On the 7th Mars will be only 12 arc minutes from the star lambda Sgr, magnitude 2.8, that is less than half the diameter of the full moon. Later, in mid October Mars will be just over a degree from Nunki, at magnitude 2.1 the brightest star in the "handle" of the "teapot". The moon, a little short of first quarter, is 8° from Mars on the 8th.

JUPITER was at conjunction with the Sun on September 26. Consequently it has moved into the dawn sky but is too close to the Sun for observation for most of October. By the 31st it rises about an hour earlier than the Sun, and may be visible very low to the east half an hour before sunrise.

SATURN remains in Ophiuchus during October, a few degrees to the right of Antares as seen in the mid evening sky. By the end of October Saturn sets about 11 pm. The crescent moon will be at its closest to Saturn for the month, 4° to the right of, and slightly lower than, the planet. Towards the end of the month Saturn is passed by Venus.

Outer Planets

URANUS, at magnitude 5.7, is in Pisces. It is at opposition on October 15, so in the sky all night. It is then just under 19 AU, 2835 million km, from the Earth and one more astronomical unit from the Sun.

NEPTUNE is in Aquarius at magnitude 7.8 to 7.9. By the end of October it will set about 4 am. An occultation of Neptune by the moon on October 13 is visible from the extreme east of Siberia, Alaska and northwest Canada.

PLUTO at magnitude 14.4 is also in the evening sky during October setting after midnight. The planet remains in Sagittarius, by the end of the month it will be about 15 arc-minutes from the magnitude 3.7 star omega Sgr. Mars' path will take it past Pluto during October. The two are closest on the 19th with Mars 3.3° from Pluto.

Minor Planets

(1) CERES is in Cetus during October and is at opposition on October 25. Its magnitude will then be 7.4.

(18) MELPOMENE is also in Cetus about 7° from Ceres. Melpomene is at opposition with a magnitude 8.0, a few days after Ceres.

(4) VESTA starts October as a morning object in Gemini 8° from the 1.2 magnitude star Pollux. It crosses into Cancer on the 10th. By the end of the month its magnitude will be 7.9. It will then rise about 2 am.

(11) PARTHENOPE reaches a magnitude 9.2 when at opposition at the beginning of October. It is then in Cetus but moves on into Pisces on the 11th. Parthenope fades quite rapidly following opposition to 10.0 by the end of the month.

-- Brian Loader

4. Norman Dickie's Century Celebration - October 1-2

Norman Dickie of Gore, an RASNZ member for 71 years, turns 100 on Sunday 2nd October. Celebrations are planned over the weekend of October 1st and 2nd. Details were in the July Newsletter, No.187, Item 7.

Please RSVP for the Saturday afternoon tea and evening BBQ by Monday 26th September for catering purposes. No RSVP is necessary for the Sunday event at the St Andrews Church as this is an open event where hundreds of people are expected.

Contact Ross Dickie, phone (03) 208 9623, mobile 027 208 9623, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for RSVP and further details.

5. PhD Scholarships in Astrophysics

University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba or Springfield, Queensland, Australia. Applications for 2017 are open until Monday 31st October 2016

The University of Southern Queensland (USQ) welcomes PhD scholarship applications from Australian and international students to work with us in the Astrophysics Group, a dynamic and friendly team within USQ´s Computational Engineering and Science Research Centre.

PhD scholarships are available for domestic (Australian citizen or permanent resident, or New Zealand citizens) and international students. Domestic students are typically allocated a Research Training Scheme (RTS) place that covers the payment of tuition fees. In addition domestic scholarship students will receive a living allowance of AUD$30,000 per annum. International scholarship students will have their tuition fees paid for by USQ for a period of 3 years, and receive a living allowance ranging from AUD$20,000 to AUD$30,000 per annum. Research student professional development is strongly supported through USQ´s ReDTrain program, and an active role in the professional support and development offered by the Astronomical Society of Australia is encouraged and assisted.

For more information please visit our website http://astrophysics.usq.edu.au and contact us: Jonti Horner (Toowoomba campus) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Brad Carter (Springfield campus) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

-- Abridged from the advertisement circulated by the Astronomical Society of Australia.

6. Foxton Beach Astrophotography Weekend 25-27 November

The Horowhenua Astronomical Society is hosting the fourth New Zealand Astrophotography Weekend at the Foxton Beach Bible Camp. This is an annual event dedicated to astrophotography in a wonderful dark-sky location. It is open to everyone interested in astrophotography - from beginners to advanced. Come along and share your knowledge, tips and experiences. All sorts of astrophotography can be undertaken - solar- system/nightscapes/deep-sky.

The weekend will consist of: practical astrophotography, image processing, presentations, bring-and-buy. Everyone is encouraged to bring along their own telescopes, binoculars, mounts, cameras, etc, however basic they might be. There are plenty of safe areas for people to set up their equipment and leave it in situ for the whole weekend.

Due to high demand numbers will be restricted so please book early to avoid disappointment.

For registration, accommodation options, etc, see http://www.horoastronomy.org.nz/upcoming-events/astrophotography-weekend

-- From the above website.

7. Variable Star News

Data Analysis

The American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) September 2016 Monthly Newsletter had a link to documents on their website dealing with data analysis https://www.aavso.org/analyze-data. This provides a list of 9 variable star analysis topics; the list would be worth perusing by anyone interested in variable star variability analysis.

Three items I found particularly interesting were investigations into changes in periods (secular changes) of Mira variables based on visual observations. These are blog posts by Grant Foster (former AAVSO staff member) and pioneer of many of the AAVSO data methods & software used for data analysis. Some of the work reported is a comparison of the utility of numerous visual observations compared with more limited instrumental observations. The 5 star analysis tutorial may be found on the page https://www.aavso.org/5-star-analysis-tutorial For the Grant Foster blogs look for the heading Blog Posts by Grant Foster: o Through a Picket Fence - About the problem of aliasing in variable star analysis o Seeing the Light - About the precision of large data sets of visual observations o Skin a cat - Investigating with BH Crucis three different methods of analysis:- WWZ = weighted wavelet Z-formation, a method used by Templeton & Willson, 2005; Windowed Fourier analysis; CLEAnest analysis method.

The AAVSO tutorial options can also be found directly under AAVSO Top Line menu bar Tab: Getting Started, sub-tab Observing Tutorials.

Variable Star Education - AAVSO CHOICE on-line courses in the remainder of 2016 are:

October 3 - 28 CCD Photometry Part 2 This course will cover topics including optimal image photometry settings and techniques, transformation, and basic error estimation.Part I of this course is not a prerequisite, but is very strongly encouraged for new CCD photometrists

November 14 - December 9 DSLR Photometry This course will utilize the new DSLR photometry manual as its guide. The target audience is first-time beginner to intermediate level DSLR observers.

For more information on CHOICE see https://www.aavso.org/choice-astronomy There is a charge for these courses (US$50).

Nova Update

An update (CBET 4320) has been issued 10 Sept 2016 by the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegraphs on Nova Sco 2016 No 2, discovered 6 Sept 2016. Spectroscopic observations have revealed that this is a highly reddened, classical Fe II type nova. For the details of the notice refer to the AAVSO website section heading Recent Activity, Alert Notice 550.

-- Alan Baldwin, Variable Stars South

8. Rosetta's Final Descent

Squeezing out unique scientific observations until the very end, the European Space Agency's (ESA) Rosetta spacecraft's mission will culminate with a descent on 30 September towards a region of active pits on the comet's head.

The region, known as Ma'at, lies on the smaller of the two lobes of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. It is home to several active pits more than 100 m in diameter and 50-60 m in depth -- where a number of the comet's dust jets originate. The walls of the pits also exhibit intriguing metre-sized lumpy structures called 'goose bumps', which scientists believe could be the signatures of early Cometesimals that assembled to create the comet in the early phases of solar system formation.

Rosetta will get its closest look yet at these fascinating structures on 30 September: the spacecraft will target a point adjacent to a 130 m-wide, well-defined pit that the mission team has informally named Deir el-Medina, after a structure with a similar appearance in an ancient Egyptian town of the same name. Like the archaeological artefacts found inside the Egyptian pit that tell historians about life in that town, the comet's pit contains clues to the geological history of the region. Rosetta will target a point very close to Deir el- Medina, within an ellipse about 700 x 500 m.

Since 9 August, Rosetta has been flying elliptical orbits that bring it progressively closer to the comet. On its closest flyby, it may come within 1 km of the surface, closer than ever before. "Although we've been flying Rosetta around the comet for two years now, keeping it operating safely for the final weeks of the mission in the unpredictable environment of this comet and so far from the Sun and Earth, will be our biggest challenge yet," says Sylvain Lodiot, ESA's spacecraft operations manager.

"We are already feeling the difference in gravitational pull of the comet as we fly closer and closer: it is increasing the spacecraft's orbital period, which has to be corrected by small manoeuvres. But this is why we have these flyovers, stepping down in small increments to be robust against these issues when we make the final approach."

The final flyover will be completed on 24 September. Then a short series of manoeuvres needed to line Rosetta up with the target impact site will be executed over the following days as it transfers from flying elliptical orbits around the comet onto a trajectory that will eventually take it to the comet's surface on 30 September.

The collision manoeuvre will take place in the evening of 29 September, initiating the descent from an altitude of about 20 km. Rosetta will essentially free-fall slowly towards the comet in order to maximise the number of scientific measurements that can be collected and returned to Earth before its impact.

A number of Rosetta's scientific instruments will collect data during the descent, providing unique images and other data on the gas, dust and plasma very close to the comet. The exact complement of instruments and their operational timeline remains to be fixed, because it depends on constraints of the final planned trajectory and the data rate available on the day.

The impact is predicted to occur within 20 minutes of 10:40 UTC, with uncertainties linked to the exact trajectory of Rosetta on the day, and the influence of gravity close to the comet. Taking into account the additional 40 minute signal travel time between Rosetta and Earth on 30 September, this means that the confirmation of impact is expected at ESA's mission control in Darmstadt, Germany, within 20 minutes of 11:20 UTC. The times will be updated as the trajectory is refined.

-- From an ESA press release forwarded by Karen Pollard.

9. Philae Found!

Less than a month before the end of the mission, Rosetta's high-resolution camera has revealed the Philae lander wedged into a dark crack on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

The images were taken on 2 September by the OSIRIS narrow-angle camera as the orbiter came within 2.7 km of the surface and clearly show the main body of the lander, along with two of its three legs. The images also provide proof of Philae's orientation, making it clear why establishing communications was so difficult following its landing on 12 November 2014.

Philae was last seen when it first touched down at Agilkia, bounced and then flew for another two hours before ending up at a location later named Abydos, on the comet's smaller lobe. After three days, Philae's primary battery was exhausted and the lander went into hibernation, only to wake up again and communicate briefly with Rosetta in June and July 2015 as the comet came closer to the Sun and more power was available.

However, until early September, the precise location was not known. Radio ranging data tied its location down to an area spanning a few tens of meters, but a number of potential candidate objects identified in relatively low-resolution images taken from larger distances could not be analysed in detail until recently. While most candidates could be discarded from analysis of the imagery and other techniques, evidence continued to build towards one particular target, which is now confirmed in images taken unprecedentedly close to the surface of the comet. At 2.7 km, the resolution of the OSIRIS narrow-angle camera is about 5 cm/pixel, sufficient to reveal characteristic features of Philae's 1m-sized body and its legs, as seen in these definitive pictures.

"This wonderful news means that we now have the missing 'ground-truth' information needed to put Philae's three days of science into proper context, now that we know where that ground actually is!" says Matt Taylor, ESA's Rosetta project scientist.

Text & Images: http://sci.esa.int/rosetta/58220-philae-found/

-- From an ESA press release forwarded by Karen Pollard.

10. Memories of Bruce Slee

Australian radio astronomer Bruce Slee died last month. His cooperation with NZ astronomers is recalled below. ---------- Ed Budding provided the following memories of Bruce Slee, originally written for the 'Brucefest' in August 2016 at Sydney University:

I was happy to see Bruce in good form and spirits when I called at his residence in Turramurra last Easter. He was as alive as ever with suggestions about future possible plans and proposals for observations. And, as ever, a Wagnerian overture was playing somewhere in the background.

It's hard to think that it is now over 25 years since I first met Bruce. I had been invited to call in to his office at RadLab whilst passing through Sydney on my return from an observing spell at Mt Stromlo. Bruce and Ron Stewart had been putting together a review of radio emission from close binary systems. Ron had remembered a review from me at the third Asian Pacific Regional Meeting of the IAU in Kyoto, and he and Bruce seemed to think I might be able to contribute something useful to the article they were putting together. I offered some remarks, that were well received, and our first joint paper went off to the Astrophysical Journal in 1989. This remarkable experience had a considerable effect on the whole direction of my life and studies. Over the following years I was to enjoy the great pleasure and privilege of working at close hand with Bruce at such wonderful establishments as Parkes and the Australia Telescope National Facility at Narrabri.

My eyes were then opened to wider horizons in more than a literal sense. I refer to the concept of multiwavelength astronomy. I do not know how long Bruce has been engaged with this concept, but he was clearly co-operating with astronomers across the spectrum before I graduated from Clay (C.W.) Allen's old astronomy department at UCL (London) in the mid-sixties. After 1990, Bruce and I were to join forces with a dozen or so specialists from X-rays to radio, as well as theoretical experts, in a number of thrilling campaigns on a range of exciting targets. A couple of dozen joint papers were published as a result.

I like to imagine that this small chapter had some part in the ongoing success of the development of radioastronomy in New Zealand, perhaps the Wellington context, in particular. Had the ill-fated Central Institute of Technology gone on to achieve the university status it was aspiring to in the mid-nineties, the progress might have been more marked. Even so, new impetus continues to spring into the scene, and more recent and greater hurdles crossed. But, in any case, I think we can look to the foundational status of that special group of people like Bruce, and their Australian nucleus, to see the definite historical origins and continuous growth of radioscience in this general region.

investigation. ----------

Bill Allen also recalled photoelectric monitoring of Bruce's flare stars:

I together with Paul Edwards, did make observations of flare stars for Bruce Slee using both the Beverly Begg Observatory and the telescopes at Mt John. Somewhere in my notes there is a trace of a flare on Proxima Centauri.

11. Proxima Centauri's Planet

An international team of astronomers has found clear evidence of a planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, the closest star to our solar system. The new world, designated Proxima b, orbits its cool red parent star every 11 days and has a temperature suitable for liquid water to exist on its surface, if it were present. This rocky world is a little more massive than the Earth and is the closest exoplanet to us; it may even be the closest possible abode for life beyond our own Sun. A paper describing this milestone finding was published by Nature on 2016 August 25.

Proxima Centauri is a red dwarf star just over four light-years from our solar system. It is too faint to be seen with the naked eye and is close to the much brighter pair of stars that comprise Alpha Centauri.

During the first half of 2016, the HARPS spectrograph on the European Southern Observatory's 3.6-meter telescope at La Silla regularly observed Proxima Centauri, as did other professional and amateur telescopes around the world. The team of astronomers, called the Pale Red Dot campaign, was looking for a tiny back-and-forth wobble in the star caused by the gravitational pull of an orbiting planet. In addition to data gathered by the Pale Red Dot campaign, the paper incorporates contributions from scientists who have been observing Proxima Centauri for years.

The Pale Red Dot data, when combined with earlier observations, revealed that at regular intervals Proxima Centauri is approaching Earth at about 5 km per hour -- normal human walking pace -- and at opposite times in those cycles it is receding at the same speed. This regular pattern repeats with a period of 11.2 days. Careful analysis of how tiny the resulting Doppler shifts were showed that they indicated the presence of a planet with a mass at least 1.3 times that of the Earth, orbiting about 7 million km from Proxima Centauri -- only 5 percent of the distance between the Earth and the Sun.

One complication to the analysis is that red dwarfs like Proxima Centauri are active stars, and their natural brightness variations could mimic the presence of a planet. In order to exclude this possibility, the team also monitored the changing brightness of the star very carefully.

Although the planet companion, Proxima b, orbits much closer to its star than Mercury does to the Sun in our solar system, the star itself is far fainter and cooler than the Sun. As a result, Proxima b has an estimated temperature that -- if water were present -- would allow it in a liquid state on its surface, thus placing it within the so-called "habitable zone" around the star. Despite the temperate orbit of Proxima b, the conditions on the surface may be strongly affected by the ultraviolet and x-ray flares from the star -- far more intense than the Earth experiences from the Sun.

Text & Images: https://carnegiescience.edu/news/press-releases

-- From a Carnegie Institution for Science press release forwarded by Karen Pollard.

12. Gaia Plots a Billion Stars

Astronomers working on the Gaia space telescope have released a first tranche of data recording the position and brightness of more than a billion stars. For some two million of these objects, their distance and proper motion (sideways movement) has also been accurately plotted. Gaia's mapping effort is already unprecedented in scale, but it still has several years to run. Of the 1.1 billion light sources in the data release, something like 400 million of these objects have never been recorded in any previous catalogue. Some will not actually be stars but the very bright centres of very distant galaxies - known as quasars.

The Gaia mission carries two telescopes, which it scans across the Milky Way from a location about 1.5 million km from Earth. The telescopes' mirrors throw their captured light on to a huge, one- billion-pixel camera detector connected to a trio of instruments. It is this ultra-stable and supersensitive optical equipment that Gaia uses to pick out its sample of stars with extraordinary precision. The specification was to get the brightest objects' coordinates down to an error of just seven micro-arcseconds. That's about 13 mm at the Moon's distance.

A good number of data-users will be planet-hunters. By studying the way Gaia's stars appear to wobble on the sky, it should be possible to detect big planets orbiting them.

One eagerly anticipated measurement is the radial velocity of stars, their movement towards or away from us as we and they orbit the galaxy. If this measurement is combined with the stars' proper motion, it will lay bare the dynamics of the Milky Way. It should be possible, for example, to make a kind of time-lapse movie - to run forwards to see how the galaxy might evolve into the future, or to run backwards to see how our cosmic neighbourhood came to be the shape it is today.

At the outset of the mission, it was hoped to get radial velocity data on about 150 million stars. This was thrown into doubt when unexpected stray light was found to be getting into the telescope. This made the observation of the faintest stars and their colours far more challenging. However, radial velocity measurements of at least 100 million stars are still expected.

Based on an article by Jonathan Amos at http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-37355154 See also http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/gaia-mission-maps-billion-stars/

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 2016 year starts at $40 for an ordinary member, which includes an electronic subscription to our journal 'Southern Stars'.

14. Gifford-Eiby Lecture Fund

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

For an application form contact the Executive Secretary This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Nichola van der Aa, 32A Louvain Street, Whakatane 3120.

15. Kingdon-Tomlinson Fund

The RASNZ is responsible for recommending to the trustees of the Kingdon Tomlinson Fund that grants be made for astronomical projects. The grants may be to any person or persons, or organisations, requiring funding for any projects or ventures that promote the progress of astronomy in New Zealand. Applications are now invited for grants from the Kingdon-Tomlinson Fund. The application should reach the Secretary by 1 November 2016. 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. Nichola van der Aa, 32A Louvain Street, Whakatane 3120.


"Nothing has an uglier look to us than reason, when it is not on our side." -- Halifax.

"Interestingly, according to modern astronomers, space is infinite. This is a very comforting thought - particularly for people who can never remember where they have left things. -- Woody Allen.

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