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.

Affiliated Societies are welcome to reproduce any item in this email newsletter or on the RASNZ website http://www.rasnz.org.nz/ in their own newsletters provided an acknowledgement of the source is also included.

Contents

1. Jon Hamilton
2. The Solar System in October
3. Herbert Star Party Report
4. Radio NZ Galileo Lectures
5. AAS Burbidge Dinner
6. AAS Astrophotography Competition
7. Astro Gathering at Gisborne November 13-15
8. Stardate South Island 15-18 January
9. 5th Australasian Conference on General Relativity and Gravitation
10. Gravitational Microlensing Workshop January 18-20
11. NACAA Easter 2010
12. Radio Astronomy Summer Studentships at ICRAR
13. Nobel Prize Lectures
14. Space Telescope Refurbished
15. Notes from Some Herbert Talks
16. AUT Institute for Radio Astronomy and Space Research
17. AAO Newsletter
18. How to Join the RASNZ
19. Quotes

1. Jon Hamilton

Jon Hamilton, long-time member of the RASNZ and great supporter of New Zealand astronomy died recently at age 84. Clive Rowe kindly provided this memory of Jon:

Jon had built his own observatory on his property in Kennedy's Bush road, Halswell, in the 60s. The telescope was an equatorially-mounted Celestron 14. He often showed visitors the moon and planets and on one occasion we observed one of the black spots on Jupiter soon after the impact of one of the components of comet Shoemaker-Levy

He subscribed to Scientific American and enjoyed discussions on the science and particularly, astronomy and cosmology after reading the relevant articles in that Journal.

Jon was particularly helpful to the Canterbury Astronomical Society (CAS) and we folded the robust frame of the present 14 inch Cassegrain (Nankivell optics) on the 1000 tonne press in the Company's jetboat manufacturing facility. They welded and turned the frame on their large vertical mill. The company also built the solid equatorial mount which supports the 14 inch. Jon, until some months ago, was actively involved in an upgrade to the 14 inch dome at the CAS observatory at West Melton.

I was fortunate to share (from the passenger seat), Jon's passion for gliding about the Southern Alps on numerous occasions. The evenings were spent discussing science and astronomical topics.

I always felt, as many did, enriched by Jon's company. We shall miss him.


Jon was better known to the public as son of Sir William Hamilton, inventor of the jet-boat. 'The Press' summarised this side of Jon's busy life:

Mr Hamilton was an ambassador for his father's invention, piloting Hamilton jet- powered boats on the first upstream run of the Colorado River, and on the Ganges with mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary.

Mr Hamilton was born and raised at Irishman Creek Station in South Canterbury. He completed an engineering degree at Canterbury University and eventually became chief engineer for CWF Hamilton & Co in Christchurch. Apart from his Ganges and Colorado expeditions, Mr Hamilton also led voyages along the Sepik River in Papua New Guinea and the Zaire in Africa.

In 1982 he became patron of the NZ Jet Boating Association. He was also a keen aviator who still flew gliders in his 80s. Mr Hamilton is survived by his wife Joyce, children Michael, Karen and Richard, seven grandchildren and two great- grandchildren.

2. The Solar System in October

The usual notes on the visibility of the Planets for October 2009 have been placed on the RASNZ web site: http://www.rasnz.org.nz/SolarSys/Oct_09.htm. Notes for November 2009 will be in place in a few days.

The planets in october

Jupiter is the only naked eye planet visible in the evening sky during October. The planet will be slow moving in Capricornus. It is stationary on October 13, when its retrograde westerly motion through the stars will cease. It will be close to the 4th magnitude star iota Cap, with the two mostly less than half a degree apart.

At the beginning of October, Jupiter will transit about 10 pm for many places in New Zealand, but about half an hour later in the south west. The time of transit advances by about 2 hours during the month, but it does mean that Jupiter will be well placed for viewing throughout the month.

The 63% lit Moon will be 3.5 degrees below Jupiter on the 27th, the two being closest For NZ viewers immediately following sunset. Neptune, which has been a partner of Jupiter for much of the year, will be between 6 and 6.5 degrees from Jupiter during October.

Mars is the only other planet readily visible in October, and it remains a morning object. At the beginning of October it rises between about 3.30 am, in the north, and 4.30 am in the south of NZ. By the end of the month it will rise about an hour earlier. Thus the best time for viewing Mars is about an hour before sunrise, when it will be between north and northeast.

The planet starts the month in Gemini being about 6 degrees from the similarly coloured star Pollux for the first week. The planet crosses into Cancer on the morning of the 13th and moves up to be on the edge of M44, Praesepe by the end of the month.

The dawn sky - mercury, venus and saturn

The three planets will be quite close to one another in the dawn sky during October. But they will be all but unobservable, since they rise only shortly before the Sun.

Mercury will rise only some 35 minutes before the Sun on October 1, by the end of the month less than 5 minutes beforehand.

Venus rises a few minutes earlier, and due to its brilliance may be visible just before sunrise very low between east and northeast.

Saturn starts the month closest to the Sun of the three, but will be rise more than an hour before the Sun by the end of October. Even so it is likely to be too low in the dawn sky for observation. The best chance for locating the planet in binoculars may be on the mornings of October 14 and 15 when it will be very close to Venus. On the 14th, Saturn will be half a degree to the lower left of Venus, the following morning the two will be slightly further apart but virtually level.

Uranus having been at opposition in mid September will be in the evening sky. It starts October in Pisces, but moves into Aquarius on the 12th.

Neptune, in Capricornus, is also an evening object and remains fairly close to Jupiter during October.

Brighter asteroids:

(1) Ceres is in Virgo, 8 degrees from Spica, at the beginning of October with magnitude 8.7. It then sets about 75 minutes after the Sun. It is at conjunction with the Sun at the end of October, so will be too close to it for observation for most of the month.

(2) Pallas was at conjunction mid September, so rises shortly before the Sun during October. It is fairly close to Saturn, especially early in the month, and like Saturn will be very difficult to observe

(3) Juno was at opposition on September 22, so is visible in the evening sky during October. It is in Aquarius all month, fading a little from magnitude dropping from 7.9 to 8.4.

(4) Vesta, is a morning object and starts the month in Cancer. It moves into Leo on October 12 to be less than 6 degrees from Regulus by the 31st. Its magnitude brightens slightly from 8.4 to 8.2 during the month.

(18) Melpomene is at opposition on October 9. The asteroid is in Cetus, with a magnitude 7.9 for the first half of the month. So as Juno fades slightly, Melpomene will be the brightest asteroid. By the end of October it will also have faded a little, to magnitude 8.2.

-- Brian Loader

3. Herbert Star Party Report

This year's Herbert star party was a spectacular success both for the numbers attending and the skies we encountered.

Around 55 arrived on Friday night in time for some brilliant viewing. On Saturday around 62 revelled under superbly clear skies.

We enjoyed a wide range of speakers over the weekend. Alan Gilmore told us about the recent IAU conference in Brazil. Euan Mason took us on a tour of stellar evolution. Brian Loader offered a humour-filled talk on occultations, and Robert McTague spoke on running a telescope remotely. Other speaker s included Robert Rae, Lynne Taylor, Peter Jaquiery and Craig Spencer. I counted 63 in the Hall on Saturday night, all buzzing with excitement given that the skies were looking great outside.

The Canterbury Astronomical Society was well represented brought many telescopes. On the field on the first night there was my C11, three 8 inch SCT's, Robert Rea's 18 inch Newtonian, an assortment of other 'scopes and three pairs of giant binoculars. During the day we used several solar scopes to look at the sun. These ranged from 60 mm Hydrogen alpha scopes and three 40 mm PSTs to Euan's C8 with a white light filter.

The observing was simply superb with the zodiacal light clearly visible. We observed until the wee small hours, looking at galaxies, nebulae, globular clusters, open clusters and planetary nebulae by the dozen. We used the big Cassegrain on Jupiter for a webcam demonstration which was very well received. Euan did his magic out in the field and then inside the hall he pr ojected the image processing using Registax software.

On Saturday night the seeing was good, the air was clear and the Milky Way was simply stunning overhead. It was the best sky for deep sky observing anyone could ever wish for. We all made good use of the opportunity to seek out old favourites in the superb conditions.

RASNZ members had a meeting on the Saturday in the Lodge with members of the Dunedin Society who are running next year's RASNZ conference. It is obvious that the societies in Christchurch, Dunedin and Timaru in particular are in very good health. We also had several students from an Otago high school: kids with an interest in science. They were great to have around. It was clear they wanted to be there and thoroughly enjoyed the weekend. On Saturday they, and a few older astronomers as well, really enjoyed making rockets using baking soda and vinegar. We also enjoyed a visit from Australian astronomer Ian Maclean. Ian runs a popular Australian radio show and is a science writer, presenter and host of the science hour on the radio in the Northern Territory. It was great showing him how we operate over here and meeting a true enthusiast. He was obviously an old hand and a serious deep sky observer.

Next year we are planning to have a quest speaker and hoping to get the attendance near the 100 mark. We'll be requiring early registration to sort out accommodation. Stay tuned on who the speaker will be. We have in mind a big name from across the ditch. Herbert may turn out to be a bigger event than Staveley given the success of the weekend. We are fortunate in having these two great events to keep us all going.

-- abridged from a report by Phil Barker

4. Radio NZ Galileo Lectures

The Royal Society of New Zealand Galileo Lectures are being broadcast on Radio New Zealand National. They will go to air Sundays at 4pm and again on Tuesdays at 9pm.

Broadcast dates are as follows (full list, some now past):

Sun 13 Sep & Tue 15 Lecture 1: The political and philosophical uses of Galileo's telescope, Associate Professor Ruth Barton

Sun 20 Sep & Tue 22 Lecture 2: The mystery of the first stars, Dr Grant Christie

Sun 27 Sep & Tue 29 Lecture 3: The search for other planets, other life, Alan Gilmore

Sun 04 Oct & Tue 06 Lecture 4: Comets and Asteroids: clues to our origin and threats to our survival, Professor Jack Baggaley

Sun 11 Oct & Tue 13 Lecture 5: Neutrinos - ghosts of the Universe, Dr Jenni Adams

Sun 18 Oct & Tue 20 Lecture 6: The Square Kilometre Array, Dr Brian Boyle

Past lectures can be downloaded from http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/lecturesandforums/the_galileo_lectures

The lectures are also available as CDs from Radio New Zealand.

-- From a note circulated by Danae Staples-Moon of the Royal Society of NZ.

5. AAS Burbidge Dinner

The Auckland Astronomical Society's Burbidge Dinner will be held at Novotel Ellersile on the 7th November 2009. All welcome. This year, the after dinner speaker will be Professor John Storey from the University of New South Wales. His talk will focus on Antarctic Astronomy.

Winners of the Harry Williams Astrophotography Trophy will be announced at the dinner. For competition details see the next item. The AAS will also award the annual Beaumont Writing prize.

Ticket Prices: $60.00 for a single ticket; $55.00 per ticket for a table of ten tickets Tickets can be purchased by contacting Andrew Buckingham This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Postal: AAS Burbidge Dinner 2009

P.O.Box 24-187
Royal Oak
Auckland 1345

-- from a note by Jennie McCormick

6. AAS Astrophotography Competition

The Auckland Astronomical Society is pleased to announce the 2009 Harry Williams Astrophotography Competition is now open for entry to all New Zealand residents.

Competition categories are as follows: 1. Solar System - Sun, Moon, planets, comets, asteroids, dwarf planets, auroras, meteors, etc. 2. Deep Sky - Nebulae, galaxies, globular and open clusters, deep space objects, etc. 3. Miscellaneous - Artistic and interesting subjects with an astronomical theme, including wide field images, artificial satellites, star trails, star parties etc.

An Entry form and Conditions of Entry can be downloaded from: Auckland Astronomical Society website: www.astronomy.org.nz Royal Astronomical Society of NZ Affiliated Societies website: http://www.rasnz.org.nz/AffSocs/index.htm

Competition Closing Date: Friday 16th October 2009

-- from a note by Jennie McCormick

7. Astro Gathering at Gisborne November 13-15

If anyone is interested, we're planning on having a Gissy Gathering here in Gisborne in November. It will run from 4pm on Friday 13th until the morning of Monday 16th November. There's two acres of land here to put up tents, etc. The sky is black.

It's not an official camp - but more of an impromptu get-together with socialising and star gazing/imaging. If anyone wants to present a talk on an astro topic then please bring it. Power is available in the paddocks for scopes. I've got a few 16" scopes to use as well. The Moon is new Moon on the 17th November.

More details can be seen at - http://www.possumobservatory.co.nz/gissy_gathering-2009.htm or http://tinyurl.com/kuqjnp

If you want to come please email me at Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone (06) 8627 557 (home + A/M) or 0275 609 287 (mobile).

-- John Drummond

8. Stardate South Island 15-18 January

Stardate South Island will be held on 15-18 January 2010, at the usual venue - the Presbyterian Church camp at Staveley, inland mid-Canterbury. The dates coincide with the new moon for January 2010 so, the weather-gods permitting (like they did this year), there will be ample dark skies for everyone to get in some great deep sky observing.

The charges are $10 per person per night. There is bunk accommodation for around 72 persons. There are also a few power sites for caravans and campervans - no extra charge for these. There is also plenty of room to erect tents. The total number of people we can have on-site is 96, so we suggest you book sooner not later. Also, no refunds can be made after 5 January 2010.

The programme of speakers will be put together over coming weeks. If anyone wishes to give a talk, please contact us as soon as possible so we can include you in the programme.

On the Saturday night there will be a pot-luck dinner. The alphabet split by surname as to what to bring is: A-F - Desserts; G-O - Mains; P-Z - Vegetables/Salads.

The weekend is a self-catering event, so please bring your own food, as well as for the Pot-Luck. The kitchen is well equipped, and there is plenty of chiller space. Tea and coffee will be supplied at break times, also biscuits.

The focus on the off-site activities will be the Saturday afternoon walk on the Old Coal Mine Trek, near Mt Somers. Bring your own water!!

Registrations are now open. On-line registrations, and all other information, are available at the http://www.forestry.ac.nz/euan/stardate/" class="blue">Stardate South Island website The webpage will be updated as talks etc are submitted. We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible, not just from the South Island, but from elsewhere in NZ as well, and overseas guests are most welcome, too.

-- Dennis Goodman for the Stardate South Island Organising Committee

9. 5th Australasian Conference on General Relativity and Gravitation

ACGRG5, a regional Australia/NZ conference for professional researchers in gravity held every 2-3 years, will be take place at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, on 16-18 December, 2009.

To mark the International Year of Astronomy, this event is being run jointly with ICRANet (Italy) as part of their IYA series "The Sun, the Stars, the Universe and General Relativity". It is anticipated that there will be a couple of public lectures in conjunction with the conference.

Registration is now open. Please register as soon as possible to give us an idea of numbers. Payment is only required on arrival. Talks titles/abstracts must be submitted by 31 October. Bookings for accommodation in Bishop Julius Hall are required by 12 November (using registration form).

Registration and other information is at http://www2.phys.canterbury.ac.nz/ACGRG5/

-- note from David Wiltshire and the registration webpage

10. Gravitational Microlensing Workshop January 18-20

The 14th workshop on gravitational microlensing will be held in Auckland, New Zealand on January 18, 19, & 20 in 2010.

Gravitational microlensing has emerged as an effective tool in modern astrophysics and is rapidly advancing. Microlensing is continuing to produce new results on extrasolar planets, stellar structure, and cosmology (to name just a few). The field is poised to enter a new era with advances in data s haring technologies, robotic telescopes, and new generation microlensing projects. This workshop will bring together researchers in microlensing as well as those involved in related theoretical and observational fields. The workshop will be a forum to review the latest observational results on microlensing and to address their theoretical implications. The aim of this workshop is to then assess future directions of microlensing for new approved and proposed microlensing projects.

For registration and other details see http://microlens2010.massey.ac.nz

11. NACAA Easter 2010

On behalf of NACAA Inc and the Canberra Astronomical Society we remind you that the next National Australian Convention of Amateur Astronomers will be held over the Easter weekend, April 2-5 2010, in Canberra.

We are all looking forward to an exciting and interesting convention and hope that you will join us. You can obtain details about the event via the web site http://nacaa.org.au/2010.

The programme committee, headed by Margaret Streamer, is currently inviting offers of presentations.

Please help us spread the word by passing on this invitation to any people you feel may be interested, and publishing it in your club's journal/web site/mailing list/whatever. For those who haven't attended a NACAA before, you can get a good idea of the kind of activities to expect from http://nacaa.org.au/2008.

Thanks for your help, and looking forward to meeting you in Canberra next year.

Albert Brakel Stephen Russell Convenor, NACAA XXIV General Secretary, NACAA Inc

(Slightly rearranged and abbreved. - Ed.)

12. Radio Astronomy Summer Studentships at ICRAR

The International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) is pleased to announce that applications are now open for its inaugural round of summer student scholarships.

ICRAR is a recently established and rapidly growing research institute that specialises in astrophysics, data intensive science and engineering. Our staff study a broad range of astrophysical topics, from galaxies to neutron stars. The centre also assists in the development of new telescope technologies at the Western Australian candidate Square Kilometre Array site. ICRAR is a joint venture between Curtin University of Technology and the University of Western Australia based in is based in Perth, Western Australia.

This year, ICRAR will offer at least 8 student fellowships to outstanding applicants who are Australian or New Zealand residents, and have completed at least two full years of their undergraduate studies in physics, astronomy or a relevant engineering discipline. Four of these fellowships will be co-funded with iVEC for a project with a computational element. The remaining four will involve astronomy or engineering. International students will have a chance to apply for our overseas scholarship program in the near future.

Successful applicants will join ICRAR for up to 10 weeks, during which time they will receive a stipend of $600 per week, consisting of $500 pw plus $1000 on receipt of a completion report. Applicants from interstate and New Zealand will receive one return airfare to Perth from their home city. Accommodation can be organised by ICRAR and will subsidised by up to 50%.

This is an excellent opportunity for undergraduate students to experience cutting edge radio astronomy research in Australia. Students will work closely with their supervisor on a particular project, but will also participate in a 4-day radio astronomy summer school for senior undergraduate and postgraduate students, to be organised by ICRAR during the scholarship period. We are also planning to host a social optical observing evening at the Gingin Observatory and the Gravity Discovery Centre.

The deadline for applications is the October 2nd, 2009. The selection committee will meet in the following week and response letters will by posted by the October 16th, 2009. Successful applicants are expected to begin work on Monday, November 30th, 2009.

For application details, project summaries and more information, see the website at http://www.icrar.org/scholarships

13. Nobel Prize Lectures

Videos of many physics Nobel prize acceptance speeches from the last ten years are available for download at http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/video_lectures.html These are good examples of the presentation of technical work to general audiences; the speakers are usually inspirational and always very interesting.

-- from a seminar note by Peter Smale, University of Canterbury

14. Space Telescope Refurbished

In early September astronomers today declared the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope a fully rejuvenated observatory ready for a new decade of exploration. Observations from four of its six operating science instruments wee released.

Topping the list of exciting new views are colourful multi-wavelength pictures of far-flung galaxies, a densely packed star cluster, an eerie 'pillar of creation' and a butterfly-shaped nebula. Hubble¹s suite of new instruments is now allowing it to view a wide swath of the Universe¹s spectrum, from ultraviolet light all the way to near-infrared light. In addition, scientists released spectroscopic observations that slice across billions of light-years to probe the structure of the cosmic web that permeates the Universe and also the distribution of the chemical elements throughout the Universe that are fundamental to life as we know it.

The new instruments are more sensitive to light and therefore will significantly improve Hubble¹s observing efficiency. The space telescope is now able to complete observations in a fraction of the time that was needed with earlier generations of Hubble instruments. Therefore the space observatory today is significantly more powerful than it has ever been.

"We couldn't be more thrilled with the quality of the images from the new Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) and the repaired Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), and the spectra from the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS) and the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS). The targets we've selected to showcase Hubble's capabilities reveal the great range of abilities in our newly upgraded Hubble", said Keith Noll, leader of the team at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, USA, that planned the early release observations.

These results are compelling evidence of the success of the STS-125 Servicing Mission in May, which has brought the premier space observatory to the peak of its scientific capabilities. Two new instruments, the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) and Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS), were installed, and two others repaired at the circuit board level: the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) and Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS). Mission scientists also announced today that the Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS) were brought back into operation during the three months of calibration and testing.

For the past three months scientists and engineers at Space Telescope Science Institute and the Goddard Space Flight Center have been focusing, testing and calibrating the instruments. Hubble is one of the most complex space telescopes ever launched, and the Hubble Servicing Mission astronauts performed major surgery on the 19-year-old observatory's multiple systems. This orbital verification phase was interrupted briefly on 19 July to observe Jupiter in the aftermath of a collision with a suspected comet.

Hubble now enters a phase of full science observations. The demand for observing time will be intense. Astronomers look forward to using the telescope to conduct a broad range of observations: from studying the population of Kuiper Belt objects at the fringe of our Solar System, to observing the birth of planets around other stars, to probing the composition and structure of extrasolar planetary atmospheres. There are ambitious plans to take the deepest-ever near-infrared portrait of the Universe to reveal never-before-seen infant galaxies that existed when the Universe was less than 500 million years old. Other planned observations will attempt to shed light on the behaviour of dark energy, a repulsive force that is pushing the Universe apart at an ever-faster rate.

-- from a European Space Agency press release forwarded by Karen Pollard.

Bob Evans found the new images at http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2009/09sep_hubbleimages.htm?list8988

15. Notes from Some Herbert Talks

Phil Barker gave an overview of the Herbert gathering. The following are notes from some of the talks.

Brian Loader described a visit to Ward. At the north-east corner of the South Island to observe a grazing occultation of Sigma Scorpii by the moon. A grazing occultation is where the star appears to graze the moon's edge, winking off and on as it passes behind lunar mountains protruding from the edge of the moon's disk.

Given the modern technology involved in measuring the moon's position -- notably laser ranging the retro-reflectors left by Apollo astronauts -- one might question the usefulness of grazing occultation observations. Brian pointed out their usefulness in establishing the moons limb (edge) profile. During a total solar eclipse sunlight shining through gaps between lunar mountains makes the points of light known as Baily's beads. Historical recordings of Baily's beads have been used to investigate whether the sun's diameter is changing. Hence the importance of defining the moon's edge.

The observations were made by setting up three telescopes across the predicted line of the grazing occultation. The stations were manned by Brian, Larry Field and Martin Unwin. Since Sigma Sco is a very close double star they saw not only occultations as the star disappeared behind the mountains but fadings as only one of the pair disappeared.

Robert Rae gave a well illustrated account of his adventures in the southwest United States after attending a joint meeting of the Society for Astronomical Sciences and the American Association of Variable Star Observers. Other New Zealanders at the meeting were Bill Allen, Jennie McCormick, and Grant Christie. Robert later attended a star party along with a 100 other amateur astronomers and a contingent of commercial vendors. The Riverside Telescope Makers Conference was well attended but not by people actually making telescopes: there were only 13 entries in a telescope-making contest.

Robert Robert McTague, assisted by his IT-savvy son Matthew, described how to attach cordless remote control to a home telescope. One first needs to decide on whether of use Bluetooth or Wireless equipment. A Melbourne company Lantronix makes the wireless system that Robert and Matthew adopted. The system is versatile, supports a range of hardware, and has a range of 150 metres. The base price is around $600. Unfortunately one needs some IT expertise as there are about 100 items in the configuration menu. Then there's the actual controller at the user end. A laptop does everything but an Apple iPhone can be used with the right software. Robert likes Sky Voyager from Carina Software.

Lynne Taylor told of travelling to Fiji see the partial phase of the July solar eclipse, as well as to visit family there. The University of the South pacific, based in Suva, reported in local news media that it was monitoring changes in very-low-frequency (VLF) reception during the eclipse, but said the eclipse wasn't visible from Fiji. Lynne looked anyway and saw a notch on the sun's disk at 3:42 pm. By 4:30 about 45% of the sun was covered. There was a notable cooling of the air and animals and birds responded to the dimming light.

Craig Spencer told of visiting the Wolf Creek meteor crater in Western Australia. Getting there is expensive: $550 by plane or $350 by taxi. The local car rental company wanted a $4000 deposit to cover likely damage from the unpaved roads. A local drove him there for $50. Though the crater is 800 metres across it wasn't noticed till 1947. Its wall rises about 25 metres above the plains and can be seen from 20 km off. The floor is about 60 metres deep. Down the road, on the coast, are stromatalite deposits, fossilized remains of ancient (3 billion year old?) bacterial mats.

-- Alan Gilmore

16. AUT Institute for Radio Astronomy and Space Research

Professor Sergei Gulyaev informs the scientific community that the Auckland University of Technology's Radio Astronomy Group has been renamed as The Institute for Radio Astronomy and Space Research (IRASR)

Their website is still under construction but can be visited via www.irasr.ac.nz from where you will be redirected to www.aut.ac.nz/research/research-institutes/irasr

Professor Gulyaev notes that "The updated name better reflects the prime focus of our research activities - Radio Astronomy and VLBI . SKA research and development is one of the main objectives of the Institute. Thank you everyone for your continuing support of SKANZ and our Institute."

17. AAO Newsletter

The August 2009 Anglo Australian Observatory (AAO) newsletter is now available at: http://www.aao.gov.au/local/www/lib/newsletters/aug09/aug09.pdf

This edition contains articles on a broad range of science undertaken with AAO facilities and items relevant to the work of the AAO's Instrumentation and Instrument Science groups. For example: * Jeremy Bailey, Steve Lee and Hakan Svedhem describe IRIS2 Observations of the impact of the Kaguya satellite with the surface of the moon. * Jacco van Loon, Keith Smith, Iain McDonald, Peter Sarre, Stephen Fossey and Rob Sharp discuss their AAOmega based study of the interstellar Medium towards the globular cluster Omega Centauri. * Simon O'Toole, Hugh Jones, Chris Tinney, Rob Wittenmyer, Jeremy Bailey, Paul Butler and Brad Carter present early results from the Anglo-Australian Rocky Planet search. * Rob Sharp describes a new observing mode for AAOmega, mini-shuffling, which allows very accurate sky subtraction with a full quota of fibres.

This edition also contains a number of articles about the replacement of the telescope control system, an introduction to the new staff members and regular features such as the AusGO corner and news from Epping and Coonabarabran.

-- Paul Dobbie, AAO Newsletter Editor

18. How to Join the RASNZ

A membership application form and details can be found on the RASNZ website http://www.rasnz.org.nz/InfoForm/membform.htm. Please note that the weblink to membership forms is case sensitive. Alternatively please send an email to the membership secretary This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for further information.

The annual subscription rate is $75. For overseas rates please check with the membership secretary, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

19. Quotes

"Give it to China. Let them support the damn thing." Robert Park, a physicist at the University of Maryland, on the International Space Station, which may be deorbited in 2016 because of a lack of funding. Quoted in 'Time' July 27, p.8.

"We've arranged a civilization in which most critical elements profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces." -- Carl Sagan quoted by Robert Naeye in 'Sky & Telescope' August 2009, p.8.

"Belief in conspiracy theories can be comforting. If everything that goes wrong is the fault of a secret cabal, that relieves you of the tedious necessity of trying to understand how a complex world really works. And you can feel smug that you are smart enough to 'see through' the official version of events." -- 'Lexington' in The Economist 22 August 2009 p.33

"In science, a reigning theory is presumed provisionally true and continues to hold sway unless and until a challenging theory explains the current data as well and also accounts for anomalies that the prevailing one cannot." -- Michael Shermer 'Scientific American' August 2009, p.24.

Alan Gilmore Phone: 03 680 6000 P.O. Box 57 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Lake Tekapo 7945 New Zealand


Newsletter editor:

Alan Gilmore   Phone: 03 680 6000
P.O. Box 57   Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Lake Tekapo 7945
New Zealand