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 in their own newsletters provided an acknowledgement of the source is also included.


1. Mary Sandri
2. The Solar System in February
3. RASNZ Conference 2010 May 28 to 30
4. Council and Executive Nominations, Please
5. RASNZ Web Site Manager Wanted
6. Stardate North Report
7. Stardate South Report
8. International Asto-photography Competition
9. Robert Kirshner Lecture on DVD
10. Brian Mason
11. VUW Scholarships in Radio Astronomy & Instrumentation
12. IYA Coin Collector Sought
13. John Davis
15. Gifford-Eiby Lecture Fund
16. Kingdon-Tomlinson Fund
17. How to Join the RASNZ
18. Headlines

1. Mary Sandri

South Island astronomers, particularly, were greatly saddened to learn of the death of Mary Sandri on December 27. She was a regular attendee of RASNZ Conferences and Stardate South Island but will be most remembered for organising the Stargazers Getaways. These were held at Herbert, south of Oamaru. They attracted participants from all over the South Island and a quite a few from more northerly places. With help from North Otago Astronomical members Mary arranged the venue, speakers and superbly catered tea breaks.

Everyone loved her direct and good-humoured manner. David Curtis summed it up: "Mary was a real character. I will miss her a great deal. I always valued her opinion and enjoyed how she could cut through the 'crap' and get straight to the point. A trait worth having especially when organising Stargazers Getaway."

Carol McAlavey wrote: "Mary was one of the most amazing people I know. Her generosity was unlimited, and above all, she was the most fun person I knew! Mary will always be synonymous with Stardates, especially Herbert, and the many conferences we attended! Her energy and organisational skills were legendary and there were definitely interesting times when she was about as she was always passionate about what she believed in. The conversations around the fire at Herbert or outside her tent at Staveley will be remembered for a long time to come. Goodbye dear friend."

Steve Butler spoke for all of us: "Mary has indeed contributed much to NZ astronomy. Her organisation and welcoming nature will be my lasting memory. That fireplace at Herbert won't be as warm any more without Mary perched alongside."

The RASNZ extends its deepest sympathy to Mary's husband Denis ("DJ") and Mary's extended family.

2. The Solar System in February

The usual notes on the visibility of the Planets for February 2010 have been placed on the RASNZ web site: Notes for March 2010 will be in place in a few days.

The evening sky planets

Mars will be an evening object and well placed for viewing throughout February. Having been at opposition at the end of January, it will rise close to the time of sunset at the beginning of the month. With a summer opposition, the planet is well north of the equator. As a result the planet will be a low object in southern skies, with the best time for viewing during February in late evening. By the end of the month Mars will transit a little after 11pm for most of NZ.

Mars will be in Cancer, starting the month some 3° below the Praesepe (Beehive) star cluster. During February it will move slowly towards Gemini, ending the month about 8° to the right of Pollux. The star will be a little fainter than Mars, but have a similar slightly orange colour. Mars itself will fade from magnitude -1.3 to -0.6 in February.

On the 26th the nearly full Moon, 92% lit, will be about 5.5° to the upper right of the planet.

Saturn is the other planet visible in the late evening sky during February. It will rise close to 11pm NZDT on February 1, and shortly after 9 pm at the end of the month. Thus by then it will be easily viewed by late evening. Saturn is only just north of the celestial equator so, it will get higher in southern skies than Mars, and also rise more rapidly.

During February, Saturn will be moving slowly in a retrograde sense. The planet is in Virgo, some 20° from the first magnitude star Spica. The Moon will be about 7.5° from Saturn on the night of February 2/3, best seen before sunrise on the morning of the 3rd, when the Moon will be to the upper left of Saturn. At midnight the two will be slightly further apart with the Moon nearly directly above the planet.

Saturn's rings are still only open a slight amount, so will generally appear as a bar either side of the planet in a small telescope

Venus and JUPITER are also nominally evening objects during February, but both will be very low at sunset. Venus starts the month only 3 degrees from the Sun, setting some 20 minutes after it. By February 28 its distance from the Sun will only have increased to 6 degrees and then set half an hour after the Sun.

Jupiter sets an hour after the Sun on February 1 so is then a little higher than Venus at sunset. It reaches conjunction with the Sun on February 28. Thus Venus moves past Jupiter in the course of the month, the two are closest on February 17 when Venus will be half a degree above Jupiter. The two will be only 8 degrees from the Sun and about 4 degrees up at sunset. Due to their proximity to the Sun no attempt to see the pair should be made before the Sun sets.

THE MORNING SKY PLANETS MERCURY is a morning object throughout the month. At the beginning of February it will rise about 2 hours before the Sun, and be some 12° above the horizon 45 minutes before sunrise. The planet will be a little way round to the south from east in Sagittarius a few degrees below the handle of the "teapot". Mercury starts the month on magnitude -0.1, more than 2 magnitudes brighter than Nunki, the brightest star in the handle. For those prepared to be observing early enough, much of February will provide a good opportunity to view the planet.

On the morning of February 12, the thin crescent Moon, less than 5% lit, will be 4.5° to the upper left of Mercury. This should provide an excellent guide to locating the planet. Using a binocular put the Moon to the upper left of the field of view, Mercury should then be towards the lower right. Mercury will remain visible long after all stars have disappeared in the brightening sky.

By the end of February, Mercury will be rising some 70 minutes before the Sun, so will be lower in the morning twilight, only 3° above the horizon 45 minutes before sunrise. This will make it a difficult object even though it will be at magnitude -0.6.

Saturn is also visible as a morning object at a moderate altitude to the northeast. Even by the end of February it will not set until 2 hours after sunrise.

Outer planets

Uranus will be in Pisces just over 21 degrees from Jupiter, and will set some 100 minutes after the Sun. By the end of February, Venus will be less than 5 degrees to the left of Uranus and set just a few minutes later.

Neptune in Capricornus, is half way between Venus and Jupiter at the beginning of February, so will be low in the sky at sunset. Venus passes Neptune on February 8, when the two will be a degree apart. Neptune is at conjunction with the Sun on February 15.

Brighter asteroids:

(1) Ceres is a morning object in Ophiuchus. It rises around 2.30 am at the beginning of February and just after 1 am at the end of the month. Its magnitude changes from 9.0 to 8.9 during the month.

(2) Pallas is in Serpens, its magnitude changing from 9.3 to 9.1 during February. It rise a few minutes before Ceres on February 1, and virtually at the same time on the 28th.

(4) Vesta remains in Leo and is at opposition on February 18 with a magnitude 6.1. It will then be less than half a degree from the close (1.6") double star gamma Leo, magnitude 2.2+3.6. The two are actually closer the previous night when they will be less than a quarter degree apart, with another 4.8 star a similar distance the other side of Vesta. They should make a good binocular grouping. Vesta is well north of the equator, so will not rise until about half an hour after sunset even at opposition.

(532) Herculina is coming up to opposition on March 13. During February it will brighten from magnitude 9.4 to 9.0. The asteroid is in Coma Berenices rising a little after midnight on February 1 and by about 11 pm on the 28th. A chart of its path in Coma Berenices is on the RASNZ web site accessible through the bright asteroid pages.

COMET 81P/WILD 2 is expected to brighten to magnitude 9.5 by the end of February. The comet is in Virgo fairly close to Spica. The two are less than 6 degrees apart mid month. More details and charts are on the RASNZ web site. Follow the link to Comets 2010.

3. RASNZ Conference 2010 May 28 to 30

Just a further reminder about next year's Conference.

The Standing Conference Committee is now calling for papers. Anyone wanting to present a paper, or poster paper can access the appropriate form from the RASNZ webpage - - and submit the paper for consideration. We already have some papers, but at the moment there is plenty of space available in the programme. As with recent conferences it is proposed to go through till around 5pm Sunday with the programme.

Registration forms have been sent to RASNZ members. The on-line form is on the RASNZ webpage. We encourage early registration.

The local organising committee was keen to impart a local flavour, and for those who would like to go, there will be Conference trip on the Taieri Gorge Railway. You can book on the Conference registration form. The train leaves at 12.30pm, and returns at 4.30pm.

Dr Stuart Ryder is our guest. He is a southern guy -- completed his degree at Canterbury University -- and is now the Australian Gemini Scientist at the Australian Gemini Office, hosted by the Australian Astronomical Observatory. Stuart's feature paper will include discussion of supernovae he has observed.

Bill Allen will be delivering the Fellows Lecture on the Friday evening.

We also recommend taking advantage of competitive airfares by booking early. Air New Zealand and Pacific Blue fly to Dunedin.

The Conference is being held at the Otago Museum. There are plenty of accommodation options within easy walking distance.

-- abridged from Dennis Goodman's earlier note.

******************** Call for conference papers.

Submissions to present papers at the 2010 conference are now invited. The time allocation for papers is normally 20 minutes. Further details of requirements and closing dates, together with a submission form are on the RASNZ web site.

-- Brian Loader

4. Council and Executive Nominations, Please

1. Appointment of Vice-president

Members will remember that Duncan Hall was elected as incoming vice-president at the Tekapo AGM in 2008. Since that time Duncan has been appointed to a position with the SKA in Manchester, England, so has resigned from Council.

Recently Council voted to co-opt Glen Rowe to Council as vice-president. Older members may remember that Glen served as executive secretary for much of the 1980s.

-------------------------------------------- 2. Call for nominations to Council.

Closing date for receipt: 26 February 2010

2010, being an even numbered year, is an election year for the RASNZ

Council. Nominations are requested for all officers and council positions.

The positions for which nominations are required are: President Incoming vice-president Executive secretary Treasurer 5 Council members. In addition the fellows need to nominate and elect a fellows representative Affiliated Societies will elect two representatives at the affiliated societies' committee meeting held prior to the AGM.

The current president, Grant Christie, automatically becomes vice-president. The rules do not allow the president to serve a second consecutive term.

By the terms of rule 74, nominations need to be sent in writing to the Executive Secretary by Friday 26 February 2010. The nomination must specify the name of the candidate and the office sought. It must be signed by the proposer and seconder and be accompanied by the written consent of the nominee.

The address to which nominations should be sent is:

RASNZ Executive Secretary
14 Craigieburn Street
Darfield 7510
New Zealand

A postal ballot will be held in March 2010 for any position for which the number of candidates exceeds the number of appointees required.

-- Brian Loader, Executive Secretary, 14 November 2009

5. RASNZ Web Site Manager Wanted

The RASNZ web site <> is widely used by the public, both in NZ and overseas, as a source of astronomy information. In 2008 there were over 178 000 visits to the site with the number of hits in excess of 1 million. Numbers for 2009 by the end of October were already in excess of the total for 2008.

The present web site manager has been maintaining the site since its inception over 10 years ago. It is now time for him to step aside and hand over control to a younger person. This handover is envisaged to take place during 2010.

Applicants are invited. The applicant will need to have some skills at preparing html files for a web site, and obtaining the material to go on the site.

Thus any would-be applicants for the job, completely unpaid of course, should be aware that there are two sides to it. These are researching and preparing the material for the monthly and other updates, and then preparing the actual html files for uploading onto the site.

These do require several hours of work each month. In addition there are less frequent updates required 3 or 4 times a year and a heavier number required in preparation for each New Year. The present manager expects to be preparing these latter over a time span of about two months towards the end of the previous year.

In addition the web site is an outlet for keeping members informed about the annual conference and other RASNZ functions. In the weeks leading up to conference updates are needed on a regular basis, sometimes a few times a week. The web site has also developed as a means of communication between RASNZ and the affiliated societies. Thanks to Jennie for providing the material needed for this.

The web site also results in the occasional query being received which needs to be answered, although many of these are sent to the publicity officer who handles them.

There would also seem to be a need for the development of the site, for instance to make it more interactive.

Please send any offers to take on the role, with an indication of experience to the RASNZ secretary, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

6. Stardate North Report

Ian Cooper kindly provided this report. It has been slightly abridged.

The 23rd annual Stardate was held over January 14-18, at Moore Rd Christian camp site by the Tukituki River near Havelock North. Unfortunately the long running westerly weather gave way to an easterly flow which was bad news for the east coasts of both islands.

After a fine Thursday the cloud thickened. By Friday a misty drizzle had set in, then real rain until early evening on Saturday. Fortunately Stardate has always had a programme of talks whatever the weather.

On the Friday evening Murray Forbes gave an update on the Grazing occultation of Sigma Scorpii from the Wairarapa on 31 July 2009. Additional observations from the South Island and Australia were added to give an even better result.

John Drummond followed with a look at our planets´ prospects of being hit, or not, by the Asteroid Apophis in 2036. Some of the older members in the audience didn´t look too concerned as they figured that they wouldn´t be here by then. The rest of us were just hoping that better observations would show the path to be missing us, if only just. Time will tell.

John Drummond finished the evening off with a slide show of all of the winners and place getters in the monthly competitions held throughout 2009 by the RASNZ Astronomical Photography Section. Many of those entrants were actually in the audience and could be rightly proud of their efforts projected onto the big screen.

On the Saturday afternoon the astrophotography theme was continued by both Cameron Jack ("Starting Out In DSLR Astrophotography") and Ian Cooper ("Is Film Really Dead?").

Then there was a change to space oriented topics. Edwin Rodley give a fine overview of the many space missions carried out, or continuing through 2009. Gary Sparks gave us an entertaining look at the International Space camp 2009, held in Huntsville, Alabama. Gary was the New Zealand teacher´s representative, and fellow attendee Rhiannon McNish was one of the two New Zealand student representatives. The video sections of the talk showed Gary being put through his paces in some of the testing equipment used by the 1960´s astronauts. It was dizzying enough just watching it!

After dinner on that evening we had the first of two talks by visiting American amateur astronomer Dee Friesen, former President of The Albuquerque Astronomical Society (TAAS). Dee highlighted some of the public outreach events and programmes run by TAAS throughout the International Year of Astronomy. Some of these events were so successful that TAAS will continue with them in the future. One of those events was called, "She Is An Astronomer". It utilised a number of professional female astronomers from New Mexico who had one-on-one sessions with young female students of high school and junior high age.

Cameron Jack gave a brief background to the many and varied images in the current New Zealand Almanac published by the Phoenix Astronomical Society. Many of the contributors were in the audience.

The exploits of two New Zealand Total Solar Eclipse (TSE) chasers were seen in contrast by talks on the TSE of 22 July 2009 by John Burt and then John Drummond, both from Gisborne. Cloud prevented successful viewing of totality, but as is usually the case, an excellent holiday and travel experience was had by all. Their hunger for a clear view of totality will no doubt lead them under the Moon´s shadow in the near future.

To finish the night off, George Moutzouris of Wellington enthralled the multitude of kids with a presentation of the night sky. This followed George´s afternoon attempt, out on the telescope field, to introduce the young ones to the scale of the solar system. A heavy burst of rain had forced them all inside.

John Drummond started the Sunday afternoon session off with an account of the establishment of an additional observatory called the "Tui Observatory," at his home in Patutahi, near Gisborne. This was followed by John Burt´s story of adapting a store-bought garden shed into an astronomical observatory, officially known as a `GSO´ or garden Shed Observatory.

Continuing the gardening theme, Vicky Irons of Wellington enlightened us on the process of `Gardening by the Moon,´ as well as the effects of light pollution on plants.

Dee Friesen concluded the afternoon session with a look at early astronomy by the Chacoan or Anasazi Indians of New Mexico from around 900 A.D. onwards. The well preserved astronomical observation sites that exist today and the small public outreach observatory that TAAS operates in tandem with the local tribe were a feature of this presentation.

After supper Richard Hall started his talk on "Space-Time: A Hitch Hikers Guide to Reality" at a comfortable pace before racing through all the weird and wonderful possibilities of modern cosmology.

John Drummond gave the last talk from his busy weekend agenda back- grounding Rob McNaught, the world's most prolific comet discoverer.

Kay Leather concluded the lectures by revealing the truth behind the Mayan prophesy of the world ending in 2012. At this stage plans for Stardate 2013 are on hold.

The few showers on Sunday morning finally relented and we were able to hold a shortened Telescope Trail on the bottom paddock in the late afternoon sun. This has always been an enjoyable feature of the Tukituki Stardates since 2001 when Steven O´Meara first initiated it. Recently the Telescope Trail was shifted to avoid the heat of the day, often with temperatures into the early 30s Celsius. This weekend was decidedly cooler and more comfortable all round.

Although it clouded over at dusk it did clear before midnight and a handful of telescopes observed a slowly clearing sky until around 2.30 a.m. on the Monday. Around fifteen people stayed for the fifth night and were rewarded with the best viewing of the weekend.

Although hampered by rain in the early parts Stardate 2010 was a very enjoyable gathering of like-minded astronomers from mainly around the North Island. There were several new attendees keen to come back next year. With the return of some notable absentees from this year's event, it will be an even better event next year.

7. Stardate South Report

Stardate South also suffered the easterly cloud and some rain. However, its talks were greatly enhanced by contributions from David Malin.

Talks began on Friday evening with Clive Rowe describing pulsars. Your scribe was late so missed most of Clive's talk except a stunning animation at the end that showed how pulsars work.

The Imperfect Universe David Malin showed how Galileo's discoveries revealed an imperfect universe. He also noted that 2009, the International Year of Astronomy, celebrated a few other significant anniversaries that shook conventional wisdom. Charles Darwin was born in 1809 and published his "Origin of Species" in 1859, showing that life was a continuum from bacteria to humans. Men walked on the moon in 1969 and took photos of the earth highlighting the thin skin on which all life depends.

Up to the invention of the telescope European lore held that the sun and moon were perfect unblemished orbs. (Chinese astronomers knew about sunspots.) The perfect moon reflected the earth. Galileo's telescope demolished both perfections. The moon is wrinkled; the sun has spots. In the same year that Galileo saw these imperfections, Kepler dethroned the earth from the centre of crystalline spheres on which the planets moved.

Galileo was the first modern scientist: he tested theories by observation then published his results promptly. He made his first telescope in May 1609. The lens was 12 mm across and it had a field of view of 3' (one tenth of a full moon's diameter!) He published his astronomical discoveries in Sidereus Nuncius in 1610. By 1612 the book was all over Europe.

The next big advance in astronomy was the invention of photography. After many improvements it enabled astronomers to make precise images of astronomical objects and phenomena. It also enabled the detection of objects far fainter than the eye could see.

Next came the transistor and, stemming from it, a range of CCD-like detectors. These have allowed detection of radiation totally invisible to the eye. Further advances in detectors have shown that the Cosmic Microwave Background has tiny ripples from density variations. Without these ripples -- the earliest imperfection -- stars and galaxies wouldn't have formed.

Local Society Reports Saturday morning began with reports from local astronomical societies.

The Canterbury Astronomical Society, Stardate SI hosts, reported a busy year. Public nights are held every Friday, wet or fine. Four telescopes are in use, ranging from a 5-inch refractor on a 'go to' mount to the 14.5 inch Newtonian in a refurbished dome that actually turns.

Timaru has a new group after a ten-year hiatus. Public telescope sessions have attracted a core of 27 financial members. The group meets at the Aoraki Polytech on the last Friday of the month.

The Dunedin Astronomical Society is celebrating its Centenary this year by hosting the RASNZ's Conference.

The Palmerston North Astronomical Society is suffering light-pollution problems at its observatory. It is considering moving its 12.5-inch telescope to a new site out of town. A "telescope amnesty", where public bring optic tubes for cleaning, advice, etc, was very popular.

The North Otago Astronomical Society mourned the loss of Mary Sandri. There was two minute's silence in memory of Mary.

What's Up With the Sun? Euan Mason described re-analysis of dodgy statistics relating solar activity and global warming. Changes to the way data sets were used, midway through a statistical analysis, had been revealed by a German critic (surname Laut). Sunspot magnetic fields appear to have been deceasing in recent years. This has lead to predictions that spots will vanish in 2013. Time will tell.

A History of Crux
David Malin outlined the history of the Southern Cross as a recognised
constellation. Dante, writing in 1308-21, refers to four stars deep in the
southern sky. He named them Justice, Temperance, Fortitude and Prudence.
However 200 years later Ferdinand Magellan, on his 1519-22 voyage never
mentions a southern cross in his journal, though Corsali does in 1515. The
pattern appears on a globe made in 1594 by Peter Plank.  It is called Crux
in Nicolas Lacaille's catalogue around 1750. The Australian and NZ flags
both show Crux with varying astrometric precision. Further discussion of
these, and other flags with stars, elicited much audience participation.

Supernova Searching Stuart Parker described his supernova search programme. He uses a C14 (14-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain) with an SBIG ST-8ME CCD and f/5 focal reducer, all carried on a Paramount ME mount. The telescope is housed in a shed with a run-off roof. The search is controlled by CCD Auto Pilot software. Images are blinked using MaximDL. It's not cheap: Stu tallies the equipment cost at $21 380 so far. Dedication is essential: Stu has discovered seven SN to date, one discovery per 900 images. This is a high yield compared to most; one SN discovery per 4000-8000 observations is more the norm. Details are important. An IR blocking filter stops long- period variable stars becoming red herrings. The focal reducer improves image quality and allows for pointing errors. Automated search software helps but misses SNe in the brighter parts of galaxies. Stu works with a mutually-supportive Australasian group calling itself BOSS: the Backyard Observatory Supernova Search team.

Eighty attended the event. Our thanks to the organisers: Euan Mason, Tim Homes, Carol McAlavey, Lionel Hussey and Dennis Goodman. Additional assistance was provided by David Downing, Brian Loader, Martin Unwin and Steve Johnson.

More on Stardate South Next month, probably. Thanks to Dennis Goodman for helpful notes -- Ed.

8. International Asto-photography Competition

After the huge success of Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2009 the Royal Observatory Greenwich, U.K. have today opened entries to this year's competition. More information:

-- forwarded by Marilyn Head

9. Robert Kirshner Lecture on DVD

A DVD of the the public lecture given by Prof Robert Kirshner in Wellington during November last year, "Einstein's Blunder Undone" is available from the RSNZ. Prof Kirshner was the 2009 Royal Society of New Zealand Distinguished Speaker.

The lecture can be downloaded at < 20091111.mp4> or a copy of the DVD with a video of the lecture can be obtained by sending an email to Faith Atkins at the Royal Society of New Zealand: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The RSNZ is not making a charge for them.

10. Brian Mason

Royal Society of New Zealand Honorary Fellow, Dr Brian Mason, died in Washington DC on 3 December 2009, aged 92.

A graduate in geology and chemistry from Canterbury University, he spent most of his working life in the USA working as a geochemist and mineralogist. His 1952 textbook, "Principles of Geochemistry" was a classic which went through four editions over the next 40 years. He worked on meteorites at the American Museum of Natural History and later the Smithsonian Institution, and was involved in scientific investigations for the lunar science program in the 1970s. Although his career was overseas, he returned to New Zealand many times, and created a number of trusts to support research work at Canterbury University and Canterbury Museum as well as the Brian Mason Science & Technical Trust.

Most fittingly, he is commemorated by the naming of asteroid (12926) Brianmason, discovered by Joel and Christine Schiff in 1999 at Takapuna. Two minerals were named after him: Brianite and Stenhuggarite (from the Swedish word stenhuggar, meaning stone mason).

The full obituary can be found on the Royal Society of NZ's website at: uary.aspx

-- from Royal Society Alert, Issue 602, and from the above website.

11. VUW Scholarships in Radio Astronomy & Instrumentation

The radio astronomy group at Victoria University of Wellington is seeking suitable PhD & MSc students to commence research project in 2010. In particular we are offering several research projects on the broad themes of: o understanding the role environment plays on the generation and evolution of radio galaxies; o multiwavelength investigations of cluster dynamics (radio, X-ray & optical); o science and technical requirements for the next generation of radio telescopes, and o detection and characterisation of the transient radio sky at low frequencies.

We have strong collaborations with groups in Germany, France, the US and Australia and students working with us have the opportunity work with the international teams.

Applications for PhD projects are due by March 1st 2010 and potential students holding a first class honours degree or good MSc degree in Physics, Astrophysics or Computer Science or related fields are invited to apply. Students of any nationality are eligible to apply for PhD positions.

In addition we have funding for a one year MSc project on characterizing and understanding the low frequency radio sky to commence as soon as possible. Students with a background in Engineering (particularly electronic and electrical engineering), Computer Science, Physics or Astrophysics holding an honours degree (2A or above) would be suitable. Nationals of New Zealand, Australia and NZ permanent residents are encouraged to apply.

Please contact Dr Melanie Johnston-Hollitt for further details [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]

12. IYA Coin Collector Sought

The IYA2009 Secretariat is looking for someone to help compiling a comprehensive list of numismatic releases during 2009, similar to the analogous list regarding the philatelic releases:

If you are a astro-numismatic-enthusiast, please contact the IYA2009 Secretariat (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) and help the project to keep a long lasting legacy.

-- from Marilyn Head

13. John Davis

Emeritus Professor John Davis passed away last weekend. John was well known to Australian astronomers, having come to the University of Sydney in the early 1960's to join Robert Hanbury Brown and colleagues in developing the Narrabri Stellar Intensity Interferometer. The work of that instrument made fundamental contributions in stellar astrophysics that remain significant today. The development of stellar interferometry continued under John's leadership of the Sydney University Stellar Interferometer (SUSI). John's legacy is being carried forward by a new generation of staff and students who are expanding SUSI's capabilities and scientific output.

John was widely recognised as a world leader in the technically difficult path of making modern optical stellar interferometry an observational technique of growing importance in modern astronomy. His contributions were recognised in 2005 with the ASA's Ellery Lectureship and in 2008 in a workshop, 'SUSI: Past, Present and Future', to mark his 75th birthday.

-- slightly abridged from Astronomical Society of Australia announcement.


The 24th National Australian Convention of Amateur Astronomers (NACAA XXIV) will be held over Easter 2010 (2nd-5th April) in Canberra. The convention theme is "Astronomy in the On-line Age". Presentations will span Friday to Monday and include observing, instrumentation, astroimaging, education, outreach, research, history, and other topics.

For more information see

15. Gifford-Eiby Lecture Fund

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

For an application form contact the Executive Secretary This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 14 Craigieburn Street, Darfield 7510.

16. 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. 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., 14 Craigieburn Street, Darfield 7510.

17. How to Join the RASNZ

A membership application form and details can be found on the RASNZ website 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..

18. Headlines

Plane Too Close To Ground, Crash Probe Told Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over Kids Make Nutritious Snacks Lack of Brains Hinders Research Enraged Cow Injures Farmer with Axe Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant Red Tape Holds Up New Bridge Complaints About NBA Referees Growing Ugly Prostitutes Appeal to Pope Chou Remains Cremated March Planned For Next August Miners Refuse To Work After Death Passengers Hit By Cancelled Trains

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