<div class="yellowbox">
  <p>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
  <a href="mailto:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." class="blue">email the editor</a>
  for a copy.</p>
</div>

<div>
<p class="yellowbox">Affiliated Societies are welcome to reproduce any item in this email
newsletter or on the RASNZ website <a href="http://www.rasnz.org.nz/">http://www.rasnz.org.nz/</a>
in their own newsletters provided an acknowledgement of the source is
also included.</p>

<h2 class="black">Contents</h2>
 1. <a href="#1">Townsend Telescope Survived!</a>
<br />
 2. <a href="#2">Albert Jones's "Lesbet" Goes to Nelson Museum</a>
<br />
 3. <a href="#3">RASNZ Conference 2011</a>
<br />
 4. <a href="#4">Annual General Meeting Agenda</a>
<br />
 5. <a href="#5">2011 Astrophotography Competition and Workshop</a>
<br />
 6. <a href="#6">The Solar System in May</a>
<br />
 7. <a href="#7">The Origins of the Telescope</a>
<br />
 8. <a href="#8">Proceedings of IAU Colloquia On-Line</a>
<br />
 9. <a href="#9">Pioneer Anomaly Solved?</a>
<br />
10. <a href="#10">High Energy Neutrinos Not Seen</a>
<br />
11. <a href="#11">Black Hole Swallows Star</a>
<br />
12. <a href="#12">Ring Ripples Record Collisions on Jupiter and Saturn</a>
<br />
13. <a href="#13">Gifford-Eiby Lecture Fund</a>
<br />
14. <a href="#14">Kingdon-Tomlinson Fund</a>
<br />
15. <a href="#15">How to Join the RASNZ</a>
<br />
16. <a href="#16">Quotes</a>
<br />

<a class="blue" name="1" id="1"></a>
<h2 class="black">1. Townsend Telescope Survived!</h2>
<p>To general amazement and delight the important bits of Christchurch's
venerable Townsend Telescope survived the fall of the Observatory tower on
February 22. The telescope's remains were carefully collected up by Arts
Centre staff and delivered to Canterbury University's Department of
Physics and Astronomy in mid-April.</p>

<p>Astonishingly the 6-inch Cooke objective lens survived the fall though the
telescope tube was mangled. The pedestal appears in good shape.  The large
finely-toothed wheel for the sidereal drive also seems mostly undamaged: some
burring of teeth in one place but no obvious bending. The sidereal clock drive
was smashed but the governor and most of the gears seem to have been found in
the rubble.</p>

<p>Graeme Kershaw is keen to restore the telescope. It will be a long and expensive
task. There is no word on whether the Observatory tower will be
rebuilt.</p>

<p>The Townsend Telescope dates from 1864 so may be the oldest of its size in New
Zealand.</p>

<p>Photos of the telescope's present state can be found in the Physics &amp;
Astronomy Department's Newsletter at <a
href="http://www.phys.canterbury.ac.nz/newsletter/2011/index.shtml">http://www.phys.canterbury.ac.nz/newsletter/2011/index.shtml</a></p>

<p>------ Bob Evans, Southern Stars editor, relayed a correction to the photo
attribution in last month's Newsletter. Photos of the destroyed tower were taken
by Rowan Buxton who is a member of the Christchurch base Urban Search and Rescue
Task Force
2.</p>

<a class="blue" name="2" id="2"></a>
<h2 class="black">2. Albert Jones's "Lesbet" Goes to Nelson Museum</h2>
<p>On April 12 Albert Jones's old 12-inch telescope "Lesbet" went to the
Archives Department of Nelson Provincial Museum. Thanks to Albert's energy
and enthusiasm over 60 years Lesbet has contributed more to astronomical
science than any other telescope of its size in New Zealand, and probably
in the world.  With it Albert has made over 300,000 variable star
estimates, numerous comet observations, and much else.</p>

<p>Albert kindly provided the following brief history of Lesbet.
------</p>

<p>Away back in the late 1930s my first telescopes were made with simple lenses and
cardboard tubes although they were crude, they fostered my interest. My first,
proper telescope was a pre-owned 5-inch f/15 Calver reflector with which I
started serious observing of variable stars and comets. Aperture fever led me to
purchase a 5.5-inch old refractor with which I found my first comet. Then I
purchased an 8-inch mirror and made a telescope with
that.</p>

<p>Wanting to be able to see fainter stars, I thought of buying a larger mirror of
short focus for wide fields but the question was where could I obtain an f/5
mirror. Very fortunate for me was that I was in contact by airmail with Dr
Leslie Comrie who had been born in New Zealand and who had made a name for
himself in the UK in applied maths (especially in astronomy). He also gifted
astronomy books to Carter Observatory and promising amateurs in NZ. I wrote to
him asking about mirrors and he replied that his friend James Hargreaves was a
celebrated maker of short focus mirrors and he had on hand a 12.5-inch blank of
Hysil glass with which he could make an f/5 mirror, and pack in a
box.</p>

<p>Dr Comrie offered to bring it to New Zealand along with his luggage when he came
to New Zealand to visit family later in the year 1947 and for me to pay him
then.</p>

<p>When Dr Comrie arrived in New Zealand, the box was sent on to me in Timaru in
January 1948. Then I sent the 75 pounds to Dr Comrie's account in the Auckland
Trading Company - with that money, Dr Comrie sent food parcels to friends in
England who had not had certain items during
WW2.</p>

<p>That arrangement had various advantages. Not only did it save me the hassle of
applying in triplicate for an import licence and also for permission to send
money overseas, and arranging transport of the mirror from England, but
recipients of the parcels received longed-for
foods.</p>

<p>I thought of calling the telescope Les, after Dr Leslie Comrie but he suggested
the name Betty, after his wife as she too had a perfect figure... instead I
named it Lesbet after them
both.</p>

<p>Meanwhile I designed the telescope and mounting ready for the optics. Having
been infected with the aperture-fever virus I was anxious to be able to see
fainter variables and comets but a friend advised me not to rush the
construction of the telescope otherwise I may never really finish the
job.</p>

<p>Around that time, Frank Bateson was Director of the Jupiter Section as well as
of the Variable Star Section of the RASNZ and urged me to make observations of
Jupiter as well as variables so the mounting was designed as an equatorial with
the intention of adding a motor drive in R.A. later. As I was already proficient
at "star-hopping" I did not need setting circles because I already had
available, ex-war surplus lenses with which I made up a 45cm wide angle finder
for star-hopping and for observations of bright variables and comets. A larger
object glass of 78mm was made into a bigger finder which bridged the gap between
the small finder and the 12.5-inch
reflector.</p>

<p>However, as soon as possible I did get it to the stage where it was useable then
made a few alterations and
improvements.</p>

<p>After a while I found that I liked estimating the brightness of variable stars
more than Jupiter observing and eventually concentrated on the former and so I
did not need the motor drive and that project was never completed. Therefore you
may agree with the friend who advised me not to hurry the making of the
telescope because I never completed
it.</p>

<p>I have said that it was made to look through, not to look at, and from 1948
February until 2010 May, it enabled me to estimate the brightnesses of many
variable stars and comets as well as discovering one supernova and one comet
(the first comet was found while star-hopping with the 5.5-inch refractor). I
addition I have had the fun of recovering some recurrent
novae.</p>

<p>Sadly my collaboration with Lesbet was halted in May 2010 when I broke my hip
and although I largely recovered from that and the stroke 15 months earlier, I
was worried that Lesbet would be too heavy and awkward for me to manage. Out of
the blue, came an email from Alan Gilmore and Pam Kilmartin inquiring if a
light-weight modern Dobsonian might be easier for me to handle. Of course I
agreed, not realizing that they were offering one to me. I have gratefully
accepted it as a loan while I can make good use of
it.</p>

<p>My thoughts of the future of Lesbet was that only the optics were worth keeping
and the remainder was merely junk, but Alan suggested offering it to the Nelson
Provincial Museum. Mid-week in April 2011, it was taken to the archives storage
building at Isel Park, Stoke,
Nelson.</p>

<p>------------------ Applying the Reserve Bank's Inflation Calculator <a
href="http://www.rbnz.govt.nz/statistics/0135595.html">http://www.rbnz.govt.nz/statistics/0135595.html</a>
using the consumer price index, one finds that the 75 pounds paid by Albert for
the 12-inch f/5 mirror in 1948 is nearly $5000 in today's money.  Ah, the good
old days.  --
Ed.</p>

<a class="blue" name="3" id="3"></a>
<h2 class="black">3. RASNZ Conference 2011</h2>
<p>Conference is but five weeks away now. You need to register for
Conference by Saturday, 30 April to avoid paying the late registration
fee.</p>

<p>Registrations are coming in steadily, but it is interesting that at the time of
writing this that, apart from the Wellington area, there are more registrations
from Australia than there are from any one region of NZ!! I know many of us are
inclined to leave registering till close to when the late fee kicks in. Many
people from Council, and who are presenting papers, have also yet to register.
Anyway, this is just a reminder that Conference time is fast approaching and you
need to get onto that registration -
fast.</p>

<p>Details of Conference, the 5th Trans-Tasman Occultation Symposium, and the
astrophotography workshop with David Malin have been widely publicised in
previous Newsletters. All information re papers, guest speakers, the
registration form, etc, is available on the RASNZ Webpage - www.rasnz.org.nz -
so please visit the webpage and action your registration. Any questions, please
email the Standing Conference Committee - <a
href="mailto:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.</a>
.</p>

<p>OK - look forward to seeing everyone in Napier in five weeks
time.</p>

<p><i>-- Dennis Goodman, Chair, RASNZ Standing Conference Committee</i></p>

<a class="blue" name="4" id="4"></a>
<h2 class="black">4. Annual General Meeting Agenda</h2>
<p>The 2011 Annual General Meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society of New
Zealand will be held at 4.30pm on Saturday 28 May 2011 at the Napier War
Memorial Conference Centre on Marine Parade, Napier.
----------------</p>

<h4>Royal astronomical society of new zealand
88th annual general meeting</h4>

<p>        Agenda:
</p>
<ol>
  <li>     Apologies.
</li>
  <li>     Respect for Deceased Members.
</li>
  <li>     Greetings to Absent Members.
</li>
  <li>     Minutes of the 87th AGM held in Dunedin
</li>
  <li>     Matters arising from the Minutes.
</li>
  <li>     Annual report of council for 2010
</li>
  <li>     Annual accounts for 2010
</li>
  <li>     Election of Auditor.
</li>
  <li>     Election of Honorary Solicitor.
</li>
  <li>    General Business as allowed for in the rules.
  </li>
</ol>
<p>Minutes of the 87th AGM (2010) are available on the RASNZ web site at <a
href="http://www.rasnz.org.nz/minutes/1005AGM.pdf">http://www.rasnz.org.nz/minutes/1005AGM.pdf</a></p>

<p>The Annual Report of Council and the Annual Accounts for the year 2010 have been
printed in the March 2011 issue of Southern
Stars.</p>

<p>Rory O´Keeffe Executive Secretary 19 April
2011</p>

<p>------------------ The AGM and Affiliated Society Minutes for 2010 have been
placed on the RASNZ website.  Go to <<a
href="http://www.rasnz.org.nz/minutes/minutes.htm">http://www.rasnz.org.nz/minutes/minutes.htm</a>>
.  You will find links to the minutes for 2008, 2009 and 2010.  There are also
links to the corresponding Annual Reports, that is the reports for the years
2007, 2008 and
2009.</p>

<a class="blue" name="5" id="5"></a>
<h2 class="black">5. 2011 Astrophotography Competition and Workshop</h2>
<p>John Drummond writes:</p>

<p>Just a reminder that the RASNZ annual astrophotography competition is coming up.
This year we are super lucky to have David Malin judge the images. David was THE
imaging guru when he worked at the Anglo-Australian Telescope a few years
ago.</p>

<p>A person may enter three images in each section. Could you please send JPegs or
Tiffs under 2 MB each image (my email address is below). The deadline is by the
last day of April 2011 (midnight Saturday 30th). I´ll be sending them to David
the next day.</p>

<p>There are four sections -
</p>
<ol>
  <li>Deep Sky
</li>
  <li>Solar System
</li>
  <li>Picturesque
</li>
  <li>Scientific.
  </li>
</ol>
<p>If you´re at the conference you can take the prints home with you. As for last
year´s prints they were whisked off on display somewhere unbeknown to me. I´ll
try to locate them so as to give them to you at the conference also - my sincere
apologies to
all.</p>

<p>No entry fees required...
---------</p>

<p>Also, just a reminder that David Malin will be taking an astro-imaging workshop
on Monday (30th) and showing us how to get the most out of our images and make
them look the best that they can. He asks that attendees take a laptop with
Photoshop and their own images on them so that he can stroll around and
help/guide people with the individual
images.</p>

<p>Images can also be supplied if you're low on them. (If you don't have a laptop
you can look over someone's shoulder. Just turn up and learn heaps...) To have a
whole day discussing how to improve one's processing skills from a master sounds
like a dream day. Please register early as there are limited numbers available
for attendance...</p>

<p>Please seriously consider coming - it really will be a great and educational
time!</p>

<p>If you're keen on the workshop please send me an email so I can know how many
placements are left. Note, this is NOT the registration! My email is <a
href="mailto:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.</a></p>

<a class="blue" name="6" id="6"></a>
<h2 class="black">6. The Solar System in May</h2>
<p>The usual notes on the visibility of the Planets for May 2011 are on the
RASNZ web site: <a href="http://www.rasnz.org.nz/SolarSys/May_11.htm.">http://www.rasnz.org.nz/SolarSys/May_11.htm.</a>  Notes for
June 2011 will be on line in a few days.</p>

<h4>The planets in may</h4>

<p>The interest is certainly going to be in the morning sky with four of the five
naked eye planets, Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter present. Taking a
conjunction to mean the closest approach of two planets, all possible pairings
occur.   In fact there are 7 such instances, with the distance between Mercury
and Venus reaching a minimum
twice.</p>

<p>The best viewing time will be a compromise between the increasing altitude of
the planets and the increasing brightness of the dawn sky.   The faintest of the
planets will be Mars with a magnitude 1.2 to 1.3.  So it will be best to observe
at least 40 minutes before sunrise.   Mercury starts May at +0.9 and ends at
-0.9.</p>

<p>Sunrise is Auckland is 6.59am on May 1 and 7.23am on the 31st. Corresponding
figures for Invercargill are 7.43am and 8.17am.
=20</p>

<p>Diary of events:</p>

<h4>May 1, jupiter and mars conjunction</h4>

<p>The first, and closest, conjunction occurs on the morning of May 1 when Mars and
Jupiter are 25=92 apart.  The two will just about level and 9 degrees up, 40
minutes before sunrise, with the fainter Mars to the left of Jupiter. 
Obviously the latter will be the easiest to find and act as a marker for
Mars.</p>

<p>On the morning of the 1st the four planets will be spread over an angle of 10.5
degrees, Venus highest and with Mars and Jupiter lowest.  Mercury will be 3.5
degrees to the lower right of Venus and just over 7 degrees above
Mars.</p>

<p>To complete the picture on May 1, the moon, as a thin crescent less than 6% lit,
will be to the left of and slightly lower than
Mercury.</p>

<p>MAY 8 &amp; 9, VENUS and MERCURY first
Conjunction</p>

<p>Over the next few mornings the spread of the planets will decrease by about half
a degree each day, with Venus highest and Mars lowest while Jupiter climbs away
from Mars.  The distance between Mercury and Venus will decrease and be no more
than 1.5 degrees from the 7th until
21st.</p>

<p>Venus and Mercury are first closest on May 8 and 9, 1.44 degrees apart. They are
at the same height on May 7 and Mercury becomes the highest of the four planets
the following morning.  By the 9th the separation of Mercury and Mars will be 7
degrees.</p>

<h4>May 12, jupiter conjunction with venus and then mercury</h4>

<p>Jupiter, climbing steadily, will be in conjunction with Venus and Mercury on the
12th, with Jupiter 35=92 left of Venus, and Mercury 1.5 degrees beyond Venus,
just over 2 degrees to the upper right of Jupiter.  Strictly the time of closest
approach of Jupiter to Venus is just before 3am and to Mercury about 8am,
although the changes in distance are very small during this
time.</p>

<p>On the 12th and 13th the spread of the 4 planets is least, 6.1 degrees. Mercury
defines their upper limit on the 12th, Jupiter on the 13th. Mercury, Venus and
Jupiter will form a tight group easily visible in a binocular field with Mars a
little over 5 degrees
lower.</p>

<p>During the rest May Jupiter will climb steadily away from the other
planets.</p>

<p>MAY 18 &amp; 19, VENUS and MERCURY, second
Conjunction</p>

<p>The distance between Venus and Mercury decreases gain over the following week
until they are 1.36 degrees apart on May 18 and 19.  On the latter morning the
two planets will again be almost level, Mercury to the right. Mercury will have
brightened to zero magnitude.  Mars will be less than 2.5 degrees below Venus,
so the 3 planets are easily within a binocular
field.</p>

<p>After the 19th Mercury, now moving back towards the sun faster than Venus, will
again be the lower of the
two.</p>

<h4>May 21 &amp; 22, mercury and mars conjunction</h4>

<p>Mercury and Mars are 2.2 degrees apart on May 21 and 22, with Mars to the left
of and a little lower than Mercury.  On the 22nd, Venus will be 1.25 degrees
from Mars and 1.70 degrees from Mercury, the three at their tightest grouping.
Jupiter will now be some 10 degrees
higher.</p>

<p>MAY 24, VENUS and MARS Conjunction Mars will be 1.0 degree to the left of, and
slightly lower than, Venus on May 24. Mercury will be 2.3 degrees to the lower
right of Venus.</p>

<p>After this Mercury starts moving more rapidly back towards the sun, getting
lower in the
sky.</p>

<p>By May 31 the planets will be spreading out.  Mercury, now at magnitude -0.9,
will be almost 6 degrees to the lower right of Venus, while Mars will be 3.6
degrees to the upper left of Venus.   Jupiter will be over 15 degrees beyond
Mars.  And to come full circle, the crescent moon, little more than 4% lit, will
be just over 4 degrees left of
Venus.</p>

<p>Diagrams showing the relative positions of the 4 planets on some of these
mornings are on the RASNZ
website.</p>

<hr />

<p><b>Saturn</b>, well apart from the morning group, is easily visible in the evening
during May.   At the beginning of May the planet will be due north and highest
at about 10.30pm for NZ; two hours earlier by the 31st. The planet will be 13°
to 14° from the star Spica, which will be to the right of Saturn early evening
but, as the sky rotates during the evening, be more nearly above the
planet.</p>

<p>Following opposition in April, the Earth will be moving away from Saturn. Their
separation will be 1305 million km on May 1, increasing to 1357 million km by
May 31. One effect of the increasing distance is to make the rings appear
slightly less open as seen from the
Earth.</p>

<p>The 87% lit moon will be just over 7° above and left of Saturn on May 14. The
following night the moon will be 2.5° above
Spica.</p>

<hr />

<h4>Brighter asteroids:</h4>

<p>(1) Ceres is a morning object in Aquarius with a magnitude 9.3 to 9.2. It rises
soon after 2am on May 1 when it will be about 30 degrees above Venus, and about
1 am by the end of
May.</p>

<p>(4) Vesta is rises late evening but is essentially a morning object in=
Capricornus.  It rises about 11.30pm on May 1 and about 10pm at the end of May.
Vesta will brighten a little from magnitude 7.4 to 6.9 during the month. On the
night of May 30/31 Vesta passes less than 1.5' from the 4.3 magnitude star Iota
Cap.</p>

<p>More details and charts for these minor planets can be found on the RASNZ web
site.  Follow the link to asteroids
2011</p>

<p><i>-- Brian Loader</i></p>

<a class="blue" name="7" id="7"></a>
<h2 class="black">7. The Origins of the Telescope</h2>
<p>William Tobin reports the on-line publication of the proceedings of a
conference devoted to the Origins of the Telescope held in the Dutch
town of Middelberg in September 2008. One of the participants was
Rolf Willach, who has concluded that the key advance that made the
telescope possible was the introduction of an aberration-reducing
aperture stop by Hans Lipperhey in 1608.  William reviewed the book
presenting this research in last June's Southern Stars, but in the
conference proceedings you can read Willach's own 12-page summary, along
with many other papers, such as one by Marvin Bolt &amp; Michael Korey
listing the oldest known surviving telescopes. To download the 6 Mbyte
PDF file for free, visit:
   <a href="http://www.dwc.knaw.nl/english/research/resources/hssn-book-series/">http://www.dwc.knaw.nl/english/research/resources/hssn-book-series/</a></p>

<a class="blue" name="8" id="8"></a>
<h2 class="black">8. Proceedings of IAU Colloquia On-Line</h2>
<p>William Tobin further informs us:</p>

<p>Until the end of May Cambridge University Press is making PDF files
available for free of the ten most-downloaded articles from recent IAU
Colloquia.   Papers that may interest RASNZ members include:
 - Wayne Orchiston on James Cook's 1769 Transit of Venus expedition to
Tahiti
 - Denis McCarthy on Precision time
 - Rosa Ross on ways of explaining eclipses to children and the general
public.
Visit:</p>
  <blockquote>
<a href="http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displaySpecialPage?pageId=2788">http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displaySpecialPage?pageId=2788</a>
  </blockquote>

<a class="blue" name="9" id="9"></a>
<h2 class="black">9. Pioneer Anomaly Solved?</h2>
<p>During the last decade or so, the Pioneer Anomaly has become one of the
great unsolved puzzles in astrophysics. The problem is this. The Pioneer
10 and 11 spacecraft were launched towards Jupiter and Saturn in the early
1970s. After their respective flybys, they continued on escape
trajectories out of the Solar System, both decelerating under the force of
the Sun's gravity. But careful measurements show that the spacecraft are
slowing faster than they ought to, as if being pulled by an extra unseen
force towards the Sun. This deceleration is tiny: just (8.74±1.33)×10^10
ms^2. The big question is where does it come from?</p>

<p>Spacecraft engineers' first thought was that heat emitted by the spacecraft
could cause exactly this kind of deceleration. But when they examined the way
heat was produced on the craft, by on board plutonium, and how this must have
been emitted, they were unable to make the numbers add up. At most, thermal
effects could account for only 67 per cent of the deceleration, they
said.</p>

<p>That led to a host of other ideas. For example last year further work ruled out
the possibility that gravity could be stronger at these distances, since we
ought to be able to see a similar effect on the orbit of other distant objects
such as Pluto.</p>

<p>Now Frederico Francisco at the Instituto de Plasmas e Fusao Nuclear in Lisbon
Portugal, and a few pals, say they've worked out where the thermal calculations
went wrong. Their new calculations use a computer model of not only how the heat
is emitted but how it is reflected off the various parts of the spacecraft too.
The reflections turn out to be
crucial.</p>

<p>Previous calculations have only estimated the effect of reflections. So
Francisco and co used a computer modelling technique called Phong shading to
work out exactly how the emitted heat is reflected and in which direction it
ends up travelling.</p>

<p>In particular, Phong shading has allowed the Portuguese team to include for the
first time the effect of heat emitted from a part of the spacecraft called the
main equipment compartment. It turns out that heat from the back wall of this
compartment is reflected from the back of the spacecraft's
antenna.</p>

<p>Since the antenna points sunward, towards Earth, reflections off its back would
tend to decelerate the spacecraft. "The radiation from this wall will, in a
first iteration, reflect off the antenna and add a contribution to the force in
the direction of the sun," say Francisco and
co.</p>

<p>Lo and behold, this extra component of force makes all the difference. As
Francisco and co put it "With the results presented here it becomes increasingly
apparent that, unless new data arises, the puzzle of the anomalous acceleration
of the Pioneer probes can finally be put to rest." In other words, the anomaly
disappears.</p>

<p>For the original blog and much discussion following it see <a
href="http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/arxiv/26589/">http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/arxiv/26589/</a></p>

<p><i>-- Thanks to Karen pollard for forwarding the note drawing attention to
the 'Technology Review' blog.</i></p>

<a class="blue" name="10" id="10"></a>
<h2 class="black">10. High-Energy Neutrinos Not Seen</h2>
<p>After years of waiting, the world´s biggest and best neutrino detector has
started its search for the source of ultrahigh-energy cosmic rays that
constantly bombard the Earth´s atmosphere. And it´s seen exactly zilch.</p>

<p>The origins of cosmic rays, a constant shower of fast-moving particles from
space, have long baffled physicists. Some of these particles are 100 million
times more energetic than those produced at the Large Hadron Collider, the most
powerful particle smasher on
Earth.</p>

<p>Yet after nearly a century of research, scientists have no firm idea what they
are or where they come from. A top theoretical contender is gamma-ray bursts,
equally mysterious cosmic explosions that can briefly outshine everything else
in the observable universe. Although relatively little is known about what
causes gamma-ray bursts, theory predicts that a certain fraction of their energy
should show up as
neutrinos.</p>

<p>Neutrinos are tiny, neutral particles that are extremely reluctant to interact
with other types of matter. They are extremely difficult to detect.  A neutrino
produced in the centre of the sun would have to travel through several
light-years' worth of lead before having a 50 percent chance of interacting with
a lead atom. But every so often, a neutrino will smash into an atomic core, and
send out a spray of nuclear particles. If these particles zip through water or
ice, they leave faint blue trails of light that can be seen by sensitive photon
detectors.</p>

<p>IceCube, which was completed in December 2010 after a decade of construction, is
an array of 5,160 such detectors arrayed more than a mile deep in Antarctic ice.
Unlike earlier neutrino detectors, like Superkamiokande in Japan and SNO in
Canada, IceCube is big enough to sense neutrinos with energies higher than a
trillion electron volts, which are produced by the very highest-energy cosmic
rays. If gamma-ray bursts are responsible for cosmic rays, IceCube should be
able to tell.</p>

<p>In the new study, the IceCube team compared data from 5 April 2008, to 20 May
2009, when the detector was only half complete, to 117 gamma-ray bursts detected
in the Northern Hemisphere during that time. (The team had to ignore Southern
Hemisphere bursts, as particles that come from the atmosphere can look a lot
like neutrinos. By using Earth as a shield and only counting particles that pass
through the entire planet, researchers can be sure they're really
neutrinos.)</p>

<p>Nothing happened. Following each of the gamma-ray bursts, it took more than half
an hour for any neutrinos to arrive. Even those came at statistically
insignificant levels, and none was of the anticipated high- energy
variety.</p>

<p>The non-detection puts limits on the fraction of cosmic rays that can be traced
back to gamma-ray bursts. It could mean that gamma-ray bursts produce less than
82 percent of high-energy cosmic rays. Data from the next few years will be
crucial to testing this possibility. According to Eli Waxman, a theoretical
physicist at Israel´s Weizmann Institute who wrote the theory predicting how
many neutrinos should be produced in gamma-ray bursts, this 117-burst dataset
should have turned up at most four
neutrinos.</p>

<p>For more see <a
href="http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/04/icecube-zilch/">http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/04/icecube-zilch/</a></p>

<p><i>-- Thanks to Laurence Marschall whose note pointing out the 'Wired'
article was relayed by Karen Pollard.</i></p>

<a class="blue" name="11" id="11"></a>
<h2 class="black">11. Black Hole Swallows Star</h2>
<p>A gamma-ray burst recorded on March 28 was probably caused by a massive
black hole swallowing a star.  Satellites detected a burst of gamma rays
from a very distant galaxy.  Usually these events are very brief - two
seconds to a 100 seconds.  This one lasted longer then kept emitting x-
rays for several days.</p>

<p>Gamma ray bursts (GRBs) are detected by satellites every few days. They are
believed be caused by two different happenings. The very short bursts are made
when a pair of orbiting neutron stars joining up to make a black hole. The
longer gamma-ray bursts happen when a massive star -- tens of times bigger than
the sun -- runs out of energy in its core. It collapses in on itself, making a
black hole.</p>

<p>The March 28 burst came from the very centre of a galaxy. We know that most
galaxies like our Milky Way have a central black hole millions of times the
sun's mass at their centres.  We also know that stars orbit close to the black
hole at the centre of our
galaxy.</p>

<p>What seems to have happened is that a star got too close to that galaxy's
central black and got shredded by tidal forces.  As the gas from the star
spiralled into the black hole it made gamma- and x-rays. Detailed analysis of
the GRB and the following x-rays indicates that the star was about half the mass
of the sun.  The black hole had a mass several million times the mass of the
sun. The galaxy is around 3.8 billion light years
away.</p>

<p><i>--  extracted by Ed from GCN Circular 11881 and earlier circulars
mentioning GRB 110328A.</i></p>

<a class="blue" name="12" id="12"></a>
<h2 class="black">12. Ring Ripples Record Collisions on Jupiter and Saturn</h2>
<p>Scientists working with data from NASA's Cassini, Galileo, and
New Horizons missions have traced telltale ripples in the rings of
Saturn and Jupiter back to collisions with cometary fragments dating
back more than 10 years.</p>

<p>The ripple-producing culprit, in the case of Jupiter, was comet Shoemaker-Levy
9, whose debris cloud hurtled through the thin Jupiter ring system during a
kamikaze course into the planet in July 1994. Scientists attribute Saturn's
ripples to a similar object -- likely another cloud of comet debris -- plunging
through the inner rings in the second half of 1983. The findings are detailed in
a pair of papers published online in the journal
Science.</p>

<p>From Galileo¹s visit to Jupiter, scientists have known since the late 1990s
about patchy patterns in the Jovian ring. But the Galileo images were a little
fuzzy, and scientists didn¹t understand why such patterns would occur. The
trail was cold until Cassini entered orbit around Saturn in 2004 and started
sending back thousands of images. Corrugations were first noted in Saturn's
innermost ring, the D
ring.</p>

<p>The scientists then realized that the grooves in the D ring appeared to wind
together more tightly over time. Playing the process backward they then
demonstrated the pattern originated when something tilted the D ring off its
axis by about 100 meters in late 1983. The influence of Saturn's gravity on the
tilted area then warped the ring into a tightening
spiral.</p>

<p>Cassini imaging scientists got another clue when the Sun shone directly along
Saturn's equator and lit the rings edge-on in August 2009. The unique lighting
conditions highlighted ripples not previously seen in another part of the ring
system. Whatever happened in 1983 was not a small, localized event; it was big.
The collision had tilted a region more than 19,000 km wide, covering part of the
D ring and the next outermost ring, called the C ring. Unfortunately spacecraft
were not visiting Saturn at that time, and the planet was on the far side of the
Sun, hidden from telescopes on or orbiting Earth.  So whatever happened in 1983
passed unnoticed by
astronomers.</p>

<p>The scientists began to wonder whether the long-forgotten pattern in Jupiter's
ring system might illuminate the mystery. Using Galileo images from 1996 and
2000, Showalter confirmed a similar winding spiral pattern. They applied the
same maths they had applied to Saturn -- but now with Jupiter's gravitational
influence factored in. Unwinding the spiral pinpointed the date when Jupiter's
ring was tilted off its axis: between June and September 1994. Shoemaker-Levy
plunged into the Jovian atmosphere during late July 1994. The estimated size of
the nucleus was also consistent with the amount of material needed to disturb
Jupiter¹s
ring.</p>

<p>The Galileo images also revealed a second spiral, which was calculated to have
originated in 1990. Images taken by New Horizons in 2007, when the spacecraft
flew by Jupiter on its way to Pluto, showed two newer ripple patterns, in
addition to the fading echo of the Shoemaker-Levy
impact.</p>

<p>These results showed that collisions into the rings are very common -- a few
times per decade for Jupiter and a few times per century for Saturn. The rings
record these impacts like grooves in a vinyl record. Investigators can play back
their history later. The ripples also give clues to the size of the clouds of
cometary debris that hit the rings. In each of these cases, the nuclei of the
comets -- before they likely broke apart -- were a few kilometres
wide.</p>

<p>For images and an animation: see <a
href="http://ciclops.org">http://ciclops.org</a> ;  <a
href="http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov">http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov</a>   and <a
href="http://www.nasa.gov/cassini">http://www.nasa.gov/cassini</a></p>

<p><i>-- from a press release by the Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for
Operations at the Space Science Institute in Boulder and the Jet
Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, forwarded by Karen Pollard.</i></p>

<a class="blue" name="13" id="13"></a>
<h2 class="black">13. Gifford-Eiby Lecture Fund</h2>
<p>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.</p>

<p>For an application form contact the Executive Secretary <a
href="mailto:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.,">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.,</a> R O'Keeffe,
662 Onewhero-Tuakau Bridge Rd, RD 2, TUAKAU
2697</p>

<a class="blue" name="14" id="14"></a>
<h2 class="black">14. Kingdon-Tomlinson Fund</h2>
<p>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.</p>

<p>For an application form contact the RASNZ Executive Secretary, <a
href="mailto:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.</a> R O'Keeffe, 662
Onewhero-Tuakau Bridge Rd, RD 2, TUAKAU
2697</p>

<a class="blue" name="15" id="15"></a>
<h2 class="black">15. How to Join the RASNZ</h2>
<p>A membership application form and details can be found on the RASNZ
website <a href="http://www.rasnz.org.nz/InfoForm/membform.htm.">http://www.rasnz.org.nz/InfoForm/membform.htm.</a>
Please note that the weblink to membership forms is case sensitive.
Alternatively please send an email to the membership secretary
<a href="mailto:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.</a> for further information.</p>

<p>The annual subscription rate is $75. For overseas rates please check with the
membership secretary, <a
href="mailto:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..</a></p>

<a class="blue" name="16" id="16"></a>
<h2 class="black">16. Quotes</h2>
<p>  "Fools rush in where fools have been before." -- Unknown.</p>

<p>  "Television is the first truly democratic culture - the first culture
available to everybody and entirely governed by what the people want. The most
terrifying thing is what people do want." -- Clive
Barnes.</p>

<p>  "Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long." --
Ogden Nash.</p>

<p>  "The problem with people who have no vices is that you can be pretty sure
they're going to have some pretty annoying virtues." -- Elizabeth
Taylor.</p>

<p>  "The first time I see a jogger smiling, I'll consider it." -- Joan
Rivers.</p>

<p>   "To succeed in the world it is not enough to be stupid, you must also be well
mannered. --
Voltaire.</p>

<p>Alan Gilmore               Phone: 03 680 6000 P.O. Box 57                <a
href="mailto:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.</a>
Lake Tekapo 7945 New Zealand</p>

  <hr />
  <blockquote>
    <p style="margin-bottom: 3px">Newsletter editor:</p>
    <table cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0px">
    <tr><td>Alan Gilmore<td/><td>Phone: 03 680 6000</td></tr>
    <tr><td>P.O. Box 57<td/><td>Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.</td></tr>
    <tr><td>Lake Tekapo 7945</td></tr>
    <tr><td>New Zealand</td></tr>
    </table>
  </blockquote>
</div>