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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. RASNZ Conference Programme
2. The Solar System in June
3. Jupiter Loses Black Belt
4. Galileo Had Glaucoma!
5. P/2010 H2, Another Main Belt Comet
6. Hubble Snaps M66
7. European Extremely Large Telescope Site Chosen
8. Einstein's Theory Fights Off Challengers
9. LOFAR Tested on Pulsars
10. Solar Dynamics Observatory Launched
11. Gifford-Eiby Lecture Fund
12. Kingdon-Tomlinson Fund
13. How to Join the RASNZ
14. Observations by Steven Wright

Supplement - Book "Cosmic Essays"

1. RASNZ Conference Programme

Friday 28th May

Session 1: 7:30pm - 9:00pm Chairperson: Dr Grant Christie. Opening and Welcome by RASNZ and Dunedin Astronomical Society Presidents. Official opening by the Hon. Pete Hodgson. Fellow's Presentation by Bill Allen: 50 years as an amateur astronomer.

9:00pm - late: Refreshments and Socialising.

----------------- Saturday 29th May

Session 2: 9:00 am - 10:30am Chairperson: Dr Orlon Petterson. Alan Thomas: It´s all done with mirrors. Gregor Morgan: Yet another small step. Stan Walker: Bright Cepheids for visual observers. Dr Tom Richards: The lure of eclipsing binary stars.

10:30am - 11:00am Morning Tea (Sponsored by the Otago Institute).

Session 3: 11:00 am - 12:15 pm Chairperson: Glen Rowe. Dr Karen Pollard: Astronomy at the University of Canterbury. Professor Sergei Gulyaev: Updates on the Square Kilometre Array and AUT's radio telescope. Steve Gibson: KiwiSpec: An astronomical spectrograph for small to medium- sized telescopes.

12:15 pm Conference Photo. 12:30 pm - 1:30pm Lunch.

12:45pm - 1:30pm

Dr Tom Richards: Variable Star South roundtable discussion over lunch.

Session 4: 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm Chairperson: Peter Jaquiery. Dr Stuart Ryder: Supernovae revealed by Gemini. Dr Ryder's visit to New Zealand has been sponsored by St Kilda Community Sports Society. Professor Denis Sullivan: Why are white dwarf stars so interesting? Dr David Ramm and Professor John Hearnshaw: Incredible nu Octantis, a close binary with a possible planet.

3:00 pm - 3:30 pm Afternoon Tea

Session 5: 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm Chairperson: Jennie McCormick. Lynne Taylor: Astronomy in Otago, the long view. Professor John Hearnshaw: Can we find Earth-mass planets orbiting our nearest star, alpha Centauri?

4:30 pm - 5:30 pm RASNZ AGM

Saturday 29th May, evening 7:30 pm Conference Dinner - `100 Years of Astronomy´ Some Presentations and Awards will be announced during the evening. After Dinner Speaker: Peter Hayden

---------------- Sunday 30th May

Session 6: 9:00 am - 10:30 am Chairperson: Dr Karen Pollard. Ross Dickie: Noctilucent cloud sightings from Gore. Brian Loader: Mutual events of the satellites of Jupiter and Saturn in 2009. Emily Brunsden: An introduction to non-radial pulsations. Florian Maisonneuve: Studying asteroseismology through spectroscopy.

10:30 am - 11:00 am Morning Tea

Session 7: 11:00 am - 12:20 pm Chairperson: Dennis Goodman. Associate Professor Phil Yock: From gravitational microlensing to plasma wakefield acceleration. Dr Warwick Kissling: Zernike polynomials and their applications in optics and astronomy. Ian Cooper: Film... still a viable entry level medium for astro-imaging. Marilyn Head: IYA, lessons to be learned.

12:20 pm - 1:30 pm Lunch

Session 8: 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm Chairperson: Dr Warwick Kissling. Steve Butler: Shining Light on Light Pollution. Dr. Euan Mason: What´s up with the Sun? Norman Dickie: Murray Geddes. Presentation on 2011 RASNZ Conference from Hawkes Bay Astronomical Society. Conference Closure.

3:00 pm: Conference Close

Public talk 3:30pm Dr. Stuart Ryder: CSI Supernova (40 min)

------------- Poster Papers

Col Bembrick and Bill Allen: Modelling with Binary Maker 3. Dr. Tom Richards: The VSS/BAA Equatorial Eclipsing Binaries project. Stan Walker and Glen Schrader: Charts for bright low amplitude variables. Glen Schrader and Stan Walker: Visual observational accuracy.

2. The Solar System in June

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

The planets in june

Mars and Saturn remain visible as evening objects during June, best placed for viewing early evening. Venus will be prominent but still rather low to the northwest in the early evening.

Jupiter will be an obvious morning object to the northeast, passing close to Uranus during the month. Mercury will be lower in the morning sky, but should be readily visible in early July.

The evening sky

Venus will continue to move a little higher into the evening sky during June, setting more than three hours after the Sun by the end of the month. It will be prominent in the early evening sky low to the northwest.

The planet starts in Gemini but moves into Cancer on June 13. It will cross the latter constellation during the rest of June, to enter Leo on the 30th.

On June 9, Venus will be less than 5° to the upper left of Pollux, at magnitude 1.2 the brightest star in Gemini. On the 15th the 10% lit crescent moon will be 3° to the upper left of Venus.

Mars will set close to 11pm on June 1, and half an hour earlier by the end of the month. So it will be best placed for observation early evening. It is in Leo all month, passing Regulus on June 7th, with Mars slightly brighter than the star and about 45' below it. They should make a fine pair for a number of nights either side of the 7th, with the movement of Mars relative to the star evident from night to night.

The minor planet Vesta will be to the lower right of Mars during June, with the two getting slightly closer during the month. They are on virtually parallel paths, with Mars gradually catching up on Vesta. At the end of June they will be at their closest, about 5.5° apart. Vesta will be magnitude 7.7, and easily visible in binoculars. A chart showing the relative positions of Mars and Vesta is on the RASNZ web site, go to the Moon and Planets page for June.

Saturn will still be visible in the evening sky during June, setting about midnight by the end of the month. So the best time for observing, when Saturn is highest, will be early evening. During June the planet is in Virgo, just over 25° to the left of Spica. It is slightly brighter than the star. By the end of the month, Mars will be 15° from Saturn on the opposite side to Spica.

The closest approach of the moon to Saturn is on the 19th, when the 51% lit moon will be just under 7° from the planet and to its upper left early evening.

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. Viewing at high power will show the rings.

The morning sky

Jupiter will rise soon before 2am on June 1 and by about midnight at the end of the month. The planet is in Pisces throughout the month.

During June Jupiter will pass Uranus, with the two less than half a degree apart on the morning of June 9. The conjunction of Jupiter and Uranus in 2010 will be similar to that of Jupiter and Neptune in 2009. Thus Jupiter will move past Uranus on three occasions, the second during its period of retrograde motion, the last time in early January 2011.

A chart showing the relative positions of Jupiter and Uranus is also on the RASNZ web site, Moon and Planets page for June.

Mercury will rise a good 2 hours before the Sun at the beginning of June so will be quite an easy object, rather low to the northeast, an hour before sunrise. During the first half of June, Mercury will brighten from a magnitude close to 0 to -1. It will be the brightest start like object to the northeast.

The planet will also be moving towards the Sun so that, as the month progresses, it will rise later and closer to the time of sunrise. It moves from Aries into Taurus on the morning of June 6. Its motion across the constellation will place it between Aldebaran and the Pleiades by mid June. Mercury will then have a magnitude -0.8 noticeably brighter than Aldebaran. By mid June the planet will rise about 75 minutes before the Sun, so will be low, in a direction a little to the east of northeast as the dawn sky brightens.

During the second half of June, the planet will become lost to view in the morning twilight. It reaches superior conjunction with the Sun before the end of the month.

The moon will be at its closest to Mercury on the morning of June 11, when the crescent moon, only 3.5% lit, will be some 6° to the lower left of Mercury. Both will be low in the dawn sky. The moon will be close to occulting many of the stars in the Pleiades, but most of the events will occur after sunrise.

Outer planets

Uranus is in Pisces and visible in the morning sky. As noted above, Jupiter passes Uranus during June, there minimum separation is less than half a degree on June 9. With a magnitude 5.9, it will be easy to locate Uranus in binoculars as the brightest object near Jupiter. Uranus is stationary early in July, so will show little change in position, especially during the second half of June.

Neptune, also in the morning sky, will be about 30 degrees to the left of, and a little higher than, Jupiter. Neptune is in Aquarius close to its border with Capricornus. The planet is stationary on June 1 when it starts to move in a retrograde sense. It will move only about 13' during the month, less than half the diameter of the full moon.

Brighter asteroids:

(1) Ceres is at opposition on June 19 with a magnitude 7.4, so currently the brightest asteroid in the sky. It is in Sagittarius up to June 23 when its retrograde motion takes it into Ophiuchus. Being at opposition, it will be visible most of the night.

(2) Pallas is in Boötes during June, so low in NZ skies. It will fade from magnitude 9.0 to 9.5 during the month. It starts the month 5° from alpha Coronæ Borealis, by the end of June it will be directly between alpha CrB and Arcturus, 8° from the former and nearly 12° from the latter.

(4) Vesta and Mars, as noted above, will be moving just about parallel to one another during June, with their separation decreasing to 5.5° by June 30. The two are in Leo, Vesta's magnitude drops from 7.7 to 7.9 during the month.

(15) Eunomia is at opposition on June 27 when it will be at magnitude 9.0. It will be in Sagittarius, less than a degree from delta Sgr, magnitude 2.7, when at opposition.

More details and charts for these minor planets can be found on the RASNZ web site. Follow the link to asteroids 2010

COMET C/2009 R1 (McNaught) is expected to brighten considerably but will be too low in the morning twilight to observe early June. By late June it will rise and set during daylight hours.

COMET 10P/Tempel is predicted to brighten from magnitude 9.1 to 8.3 during June. The comet will be in Aquarius visible in the morning sky. By the end of June it will rise a little before midnight and be about 10° from Jupiter.

More details and charts are on the RASNZ web site. Follow the link to Comets 2010.

-- brian loader

3. Jupiter Loses Black Belt

Jupiter's South Equatorial Belt -- the broad dark stripe south of the planet's equator -- has disappeared. It was present when Jupiter was lost in the evening twilight at the end of last year. It was gone when Jupiter reappeared in the dawn sky in April.

The South Equatorial Belt has disappeared before, in 1973 and the early 1990s. It is thought that the band appears dark simply because pale, high- altitude clouds prevalent in other regions of the planet are missing there. The cause of this change is not known.

See for more information.

-- Thanks to Mike White for pointing out the New Scientist article to the nzastronomers group.

4. Galileo Had Glaucoma!

It has been 401 years since Galileo first had the idea of pointing his telescope to the heavens.

His interest in telescopes (an invention attributed to a Dutchman) began for their military application and their commercial value. The astronomical science only occurred to him later. He was not the first: an Englishman, Thomas Harriot, drew the contours of the moon in July 1609 but gets no credit as he did not publish his work.

Galileo first found evidence that proved the earth was not the centre of the solar system when he found the four larger moons of Jupiter, and that Venus has phases just like our moon. These were seemingly simple things but in 1609 they turned science and the Catholic Church upside down. He did this with a telescope that was of poorer quality and less magnification than a cheap pair of modern binoculars. [Not quite correct: Galileo's telescope of January 1610, the one that showed Jupiter's moons, magnified 20x. -Ed.]

Galileo's eyes were not ideal. His left eye was very short sighted and his right eye had less than perfect distance vision which meant that they could never see together. His eyes pointed in different directions which is shown in many different portraits. He was reported to have poor vision, thought to be due to looking at the sun, but his writings show that he was aware of the dangers of this and observed sunspots by projecting the sun's image onto a screen. This is a technique still commonly used by astronomers today. His weaker, divergent left eye may have helped him draw Jupiter and Venus as it was focused close to him while his right eye observed the heavens through a telescope.

Experts agree that Galileo had progressive glaucoma. A study being undertaken by Paolo Galluzzi, director of the Institute and Museum of The History of Science, in Florence, Italy will seek glaucoma DNA from Galileo's remains. They were reburied in 1737; his first grave was that of a pauper due to his being out of favour with the Catholic Church. He never married but did have three children so any descendents may have a family history of glaucoma.

Galileo is credited with applying scientific discovery of facts through evidence which is the same principle used in research into glaucoma and the eye drop treatments you may be using. No glaucoma treatment reaches the eye unless it has had rigorous studies proving that it works with similar confidence to the knowledge that the sun is the centre of the solar system.

-- slightly edited from an article in "Eyelights" The Newsletter of Glaucoma NZ, vol. 7, Issue 1, March 2010.

5. P/2010 H2, Another Main Belt Comet

Until 1996 no comet had been seen that originated in the Main Belt of asteroids between Mars and Jupiter. In that year Periodic Comet 1996 N2 was discovered by Elst and Pizzaro on images taken with the European Southern Observatory's Schmidt camera. The comet's orbit was confined to the asteroid belt: average distance (a) 2.63 AU, 395 million km, from the sun in a moderately elliptical orbit (e = 0.17). It had earlier been discovered as an asteroid and designated 1979 OW7, so it was given the periodic comet number 133P. Since then at least five main belt comets have appeared. Comet P/2010 A2 was almost certainly not lit up by vaporizing ice, as most comets are, but was made of debris from the collision of two small asteroids. (See the March Newsletter Item 9 for details.)

The latest and brightest addition to this family of Main Belt Comets (MBCs) was discovered on April 16. It looked like an asteroid but was 13th magnitude in an area of sky well patrolled for undiscovered objects. Over the next few days it gradually grew in size to become a comet without a tail. The discoverer was Jan Vales, observing with the 0.60-m f/3.3 Cichocki reflector at Crni Vrh, Slovenia. Comet P/2010 H2 (Vales) orbits on the outer edge of the Main Belt at an average (a) 3.85 AU, 578 million km, from the sun in 7.55 years. Like the other MBCs, its orbit is moderately elliptical, e = 0.19.

Near-infrared (0.8- to 2.5-micron) spectra of the comet taken with the 3.0-m NASA Infrared Telescope Facility atop Mauna Kea showed features consistent with abundant water-ice grains in the central coma. A narrow absorption band at 1.65 microns indicated the presence of crystalline ice. The preliminary results gave the temperature of the ice particles at about 100 +/- 20 K or -170 C.

-- from International Astronomical Union Circulars 9137 and 9139, both on April 25.

6. Hubble Snaps M66

The Hubble Space Telescope has snapped a spectacular view of M66, the largest galaxy in the Leo Triplet. It has an unusual shape with asymmetric spiral arms and an apparently displaced core. The peculiar anatomy is most likely caused by the gravitational pull of the other two members of the trio.

Messier 66, is located at a distance of about 35 million light-years in the constellation of Leo. Together with M65 and NGC 3628, M66 makes the Leo Triplet of interacting spiral galaxies. They are part of the larger M66 group. At 100 000 light-years diameter M66 is the biggest of the three.

M66 boasts a remarkable record of supernova explosions: three since 1989, the latest in 2009. A supernova is a stellar explosion that may momentarily outshine its entire host galaxy. It then fades away over a period lasting several weeks or months. During its very short life the supernova radiates as much energy as the Sun would radiate over 10 billion years.

The picture and press release this is derived from are at

-- from a press release forwarded by Karen Pollard.

7. European Extremely Large Telescope Site Chosen

In April the European Southern Observatory (ESO) Council selected Cerro Armazones as the baseline site for the planned 42-meter European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). Cerro Armazones is a mountain 3060 meters high in the central part of Chile's Atacama Desert. It is 130 km south of the town of Antofagasta and about 20 km from Cerro Paranal, home of ESO's Very Large Telescope.

The next step is to build the optical/infrared E-ELT. It will have a primary mirror 42 meters in diameter and will be the world's biggest eye on the sky. The E-ELT will address many of the most pressing unsolved questions in astronomy and may eventually revolutionize our perception of the Universe. The final go-ahead for construction is expected at the end of 2010, with the start of operations planned for 2018.

The decision by the ESO Council, comprising representatives of ESO's fourteen Member States, was based on an extensive comparative meteorological investigation over several years. The majority of the data collected will be made public this year.

Various factors needed to be considered in the site selection process. Obviously the 'astronomical quality' of the atmosphere: the number of clear nights (Armazones has over 320 per year), the amount of water vapour, and the stability of the atmosphere (known as seeing) played a crucial role. But other parameters had to be taken into account as well, such as the costs of construction and operations, and the operational and scientific synergy with other major facilities (VLT/VLTI, VISTA, VST, ALMA, SKA, etc.)

The Chilean Government has agreed to donate to ESO a substantial tract of land contiguous to ESO's Paranal property and containing Armazones. This will ensure the continued protection of the site against adverse influences, in particular light pollution and mining activities.

-- from an ESO Press release forwarded by Karen Pollard.

8. Einstein's Theory Fights Off Challengers

Two new and independent studies have confirmed Einstein¹s General Theory of Relativity to an unprecedented precision over very large distances. Both of the studies used observations from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the earlier ESA ROSAT x-ray satellite.

One of the studies, led by Fabian Schmidt of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, tested how gravity works on scales larger than 100 million light-years. The second study compared how rapidly galaxy clusters have grown over time to the predictions from General Relativity. It was led by David Rapetti of the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC) at Stanford University and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

The first finding significantly weakens a competitor to General Relativity known as f(R) gravity. In recent years, physicists have turned their attention to competing theories to General Relativity as a possible explanation for the accelerated expansion of the universe. Currently, the most popular explanation for the acceleration is the so-called cosmological constant, which can be understood as energy that exists in empty space. This energy is referred to as 'dark energy' to emphasize that it cannot be directly detected.

In the f(R) theory, the cosmic acceleration comes not from an exotic form of energy but from a modification of the gravitational force. The modified force also affects the rate at which small enhancements of matter can grow over the eons to become massive clusters of galaxies, opening up the possibility of a sensitive test of the theory.

Schmidt and colleagues used mass estimates of 49 galaxy clusters in the local universe from Chandra observations, compared them with theoretical model predictions and studies of supernovae, the cosmic microwave background, and the large-scale distribution of galaxies. They found no evidence that gravity is different from General Relativity on scales larger than 130 million light-years. This limit corresponds to a hundred-fold improvement on the bounds of the modified gravitational force's range that can be set without using the cluster data.

The reason for this dramatic improvement in constraints is due to the greatly enhanced gravitational forces acting in clusters as opposed to the universal background expansion of the universe. The cluster-growth technique also promises to be a good probe of other modified gravity scenarios, such as models motivated by higher-dimensional theories and string theory.

The second independent study also bolsters General Relativity by directly testing it across cosmological distances and times. Up till now General Relativity had been verified only using experiments from laboratory to Solar System scales, leaving the door open to the possibility that General Relativity breaks down on much larger scales.

To probe this question, the group at Stanford University compared Chandra observations of how rapidly galaxy clusters have grown over time to the predictions of General Relativity. The result is nearly complete agreement between observation and theory.

"Einstein¹s theory succeeds again, this time in calculating how many massive clusters have formed under gravity¹s pull over the last five billion years," said Rapetti. "Excitingly and reassuringly, our results are the most robust consistency test of General Relativity yet carried out on cosmological scales."

Galaxy clusters are important objects in the quest to understand the Universe as a whole. Because the observations of the masses of galaxy clusters are directly sensitive to the properties of gravity, they provide crucial information. Other techniques such as observations of supernovae, or the distribution of galaxies, measure cosmic distances, which depend only on the expansion rate of the universe. In contrast, the cluster technique used by Rapetti and his colleagues measure in addition the growth rate of the cosmic structure, as driven by gravity.

"Cosmic acceleration represents a great challenge to our modern understanding of physics," said Rapetti¹s co-author Adam Mantz of NASA¹s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. "Measurements of acceleration have highlighted how little we know about gravity at cosmic scales, but we're now starting to push back our ignorance."

More information, including images and other multimedia see: and

-- from a NASA press release forwarded by Karen Pollard.

9. LOFAR Tested on Pulsars

An international team of astronomers has set a new world record in wavelength coverage observing pulsars. They used the new European LOFAR telescope, in combination with two of the world's largest radio telescopes, the Effelsberg telescope in Germany and the Lovell telescope in the United Kingdom. This unique combination of telescopes allowed them to simultaneously observe the radio emissions from six different pulsars across wavelengths from 3.5 cm up to 7 metres -- a factor of 200 difference.

Pulsars are rapidly rotating neutron stars, which measure only about 20 km across and yet are more massive than the Sun. They produce beams of radio radiation from their magnetic poles that are observable over a wide range of wavelengths.

Astronomers have been studying pulsars for the past 40 years and are getting closer to understanding the mechanism that generates these intense beams. They think that the emissions seen at the different wavelengths emerge from different heights above the highly magnetized pulsar surface. Emission seen at a particular radio wavelength therefore provides a slice through the pulsar's surrounding 'magnetosphere'. The magnetic field lines that accelerate particles spread apart as one moves further from the pulsar's surface. Experimental support for this idea is the observation that the pulses of some pulsars become stretched at long wavelengths.

With any single telescope, a pulsar can only be observed in a relatively narrow range of wavelengths at any given time. By combining the traditional large Effelsberg and Lovell telescopes, observing at wavelengths of centimetres, with the next generation telescope LOFAR, observing at wavelengths of metres, the astronomers were able to observe a set of six pulsars, each simultaneously across a range of nearly 8 octaves. This provides many snapshots of what the pulsar's emission looks like at a range of heights above the star's magnetic poles. The analysis also probes of the interstellar gas that is between us and the pulsar.

Key to these observations was the new LOFAR telescope. It is a collection of thousands of radio antennas operated as an integrated facility from the ASTRON headquarters in Dwingeloo, the Netherlands. It is centred near Exloo, in the Netherlands and spread from there over hundreds of km into neighbouring countries France, Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The data taken on all stations is brought together for data analysis via high- speed networks to a BlueGene/P supercomputer and powerful cluster computers at the University of Groningen.

When completed in the next year the LOFAR telescope will span more than 1,000 kilometres in Europe. It will be the most powerful radio telescope at radio wavelengths of 1-30 meters and is expected to produce a flood of exciting new scientific results.

Additional information and figures:

-- from a press release forwarded by Karen Pollard.

10. Solar Dynamics Observatory Launched

NASA's recently launched Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, is returning early images that confirm an unprecedented new capability for scientists to better understand our Sun¹s dynamic processes. These solar activities affect everything on Earth.

Some of the images from the spacecraft show never-before-seen detail of material streaming outward and away from sunspots. Others show extreme close-ups of activity on the Sun's surface. The spacecraft also has made the first high-resolution measurements of solar flares in a broad range of extreme ultraviolet wavelengths.

SDO will determine how the Sun's magnetic field is generated, structured and converted into violent solar events such as turbulent solar wind, solar flares and coronal mass ejections. These immense clouds of material, when directed toward Earth, can cause large magnetic storms in our planet¹s magnetosphere and upper atmosphere.

Space weather has been recognized as a cause of technological problems since the invention of the telegraph in the 19th century. These events produce disturbances in electromagnetic fields on Earth that can induce extreme currents in wires, disrupting power lines and causing widespread blackouts. These solar storms can interfere with communications between ground controllers, satellites and airplane pilots flying near Earth¹s poles. Radio noise from the storms also can disrupt cell phone service.

The observatory carries three state-of the-art instruments for conducting solar research.

The Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager maps solar magnetic fields and looks beneath the Sun's opaque surface. The experiment will decipher the physics of the Sun's activity, taking pictures in several very narrow bands of visible light. These will provide ultrasound images of the Sun and help study active regions.

The Atmospheric Imaging Assembly is a group of four telescopes designed to photograph the Sun¹s surface and atmosphere. The instrument covers 10 different wavelength bands selected to reveal key aspects of solar activity.

The Extreme Ultraviolet Variability Experiment measures fluctuations in the Sun's radiant emissions. These emissions have a direct and powerful effect on Earth's upper atmosphere -- heating it, puffing it up, and breaking apart atoms and molecules. Researchers don't know how fast the Sun can vary at many of these wavelengths, so they expect to make discoveries about flare events.

SDO is the first mission of NASA's Living with a Star Program, or LWS. The goal of LWS is to develop the scientific understanding necessary to address those aspects of the connected Sun-Earth system that directly affect our lives and society.

For images and more about the SDO mission:

-- from a NASA press release forwarded by Karen Pollard.

11. 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.

12. 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.

13. 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..

14. Observations by Steven Wright

If you're not familiar with the work of Steven Wright, he is the famous erudite scientist who once said: "I woke up one morning, and all of my stuff had been stolen and replaced by exact duplicates." His mind sees things differently than most of us.

Here are some of his gems: I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize. Borrow money from pessimists -- they don't expect it back. Half the people you know are below average. 99% of lawyers give the rest a bad name. 82.7% of all statistics are made up on the spot. A conscience is what hurts when all your other parts feel so good. A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory. If you want the rainbow, you got to put up with the rain. All those who believe in psycho kinesis, raise my hand. The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese. I almost had a psychic girlfriend... but she left me before we met. Okay, so what's the speed of dark? How do you tell when you're out of invisible ink? If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something. Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm. When everything is coming your way, you're in the wrong lane. Ambition is a poor excuse for not having enough sense to be lazy. Hard work pays off in the future; laziness pays off now. I intend to live forever... so far, so good. If Barbie is so popular, why do you have to buy her friends? Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines. What happens if you get scared half to death twice? My mechanic told me, "I couldn't repair your brakes, so I made your horn louder." Why do psychics have to ask you for your name? If at first you don't succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried. A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it. The hardness of the butter is proportional to the softness of the bread. To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research. The problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard. The sooner you fall behind, the more time you'll have to catch up. The colder the x-ray table, the more of your body is required to be on it. Everyone has a photographic memory; some just don't have film. If your car could travel at the speed of light, would your headlights work?

-- thanks to Rosemary Cole for passing this along.

. Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand . Email Newsletter Supplement, 23 May 2010

Book -- Cosmic Essays ---------------------- Cosmic Essays -- A collection of popular essays on astronomy, written to mark the International Year of Astronomy 2009, by John Hearnshaw, University of Canterbury

Comic Essays is a collection of 53 popular essays in astronomy, written to celebrate the International Year of Astronomy 2009, and originally published electronically as the Cosmic Diary as a cornerstone project of IYA2009.

The 53 essays cover a wide variety of topics. The project was conceived to portray the lives of professional astronomers during 2009. The articles in Cosmic Essays include articles on: Mt John University Observatory, New Zealand The search for extrasolar planets The history of astronomy Astronomy in developing countries (such as Mongolia, Cuba, Paraguay, Uzbekistan, Mauritius and Laos) Observatories in remote corners of the world (including those in Spain, Uruguay, Thailand and the Czech Republic) Astronomical libraries Astronomical spectrographs Astronomy and society (including astro-publishing and the relationship between astronomy and the economy) Famous astronomers of the twentieth century Astronomical conferences The Starlight Reserve Initiative and many more!

The book is richly illustrated with over 150 full colour illustrations. pp 105 + vi. Cosmic Essays is published by the author, who is Professor of Astronomy at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. Published May 2010.


To order a copy, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and include your name and mailing address. Or go to ORDER FORM Price $NZ 25.00. Packaging and postage $5 in New Zealand; $10 international.

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