The RASNZ Email newsletter is distributed by email on or near the 20th of each month. If you would like to be on the circulation list This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for a copy.

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

Contents

1. Total Eclipse of the Moon - December 10/11
2. The Solar System in December
3. A History of Southland Astronomy
4. Transit of Venus - Educators' Resources
5. Free Access to Royal Society Journals and Scientific American
6. SKANZ 2012 Conference
7. NACAA 2012
8. Third International Starlight Conference
9. RASNZ Conference 2012
10. Karoo Array Telescope Working
11. Why Uranus and Its Moons Are Upside Down
12. MESSENGER Reports on Mercury (Part 2)
13. Chemical Element Named After Copernicus
14. "Treasures of the Southern Sky"
15. How to Join the RASNZ
16. Gifford-Eiby Lecture Fund
17. Kingdon-Tomlinson Fund
18. Quote

1. Total Eclipse of the Moon - December 10/11

The mid time of this eclipse will be just before 3:32 am NZDT on the morning of December 11. The timing means the eclipse will be visible almost in its entirety from New Zealand and fully from Australia.

The predicted times for the various stages are:

UT Dec 10 NZDT Dec 11
First contact with penumbra 11:33:23 12:33:23 am
First contact with umbra 12:45:34 1:45:34 am
Total eclipse starts 14:06:26 3:06:26 am
Mid eclipse 14:31:50 3:31:50 am
Total eclipse ends 14:57:16 3:57:16 am
Last contact with umbra 16:18:09 5:18:09 am
Last contact with penumbra 17:30:13 Moon set in NZ

The moon is at its furthest north for the month at the time of the eclipse so it will be at its lowest for New Zealand. Its altitude at mid eclipse will range from 21° at Auckland to 15° at Invercargill. The moon will set throughout NZ close to 6am, before it entirely leaves the penumbra. By this time there will be no noticeable effect of the eclipse. Sunrise is about 5.45 am, so there will be considerable twilight by the time the moon leaves the umbra.

The entire eclipse will be visible from Australia and from east Asia with the moon higher in the sky than in NZ.

-- Brian Loader

2. The Solar System in December

The usual notes on the visibility of the Planets for December 2011 are on the RASNZ web site: http://www.rasnz.org.nz/SolarSys/Dec_11.htm. Notes for January 2012 will be on line in a few days.

Total eclipse of the moon, December 10/11. See Item 1 for details.

The southern summer solstice is on December 22 with the Sun furthest south at about 6.31 pm. The earliest sunrise for the year will be on the morning of the eclipse of the moon.

The planets in december

Venus and Jupiter are obvious objects in the evening sky, Venus fairly low to the south of west after sunset, Jupiter a little higher to the north.

Mars and Saturn remain morning objects, Saturn rises increasingly earlier before the Sun so becoming more readily visible an hour before sunrise. Mercury is too close to the Sun most of the month, but may be briefly visible as a very low object in the dawn sky at the end of December.

Evening sky - venus and jupiter

Venus will set a little over 2 hours after the Sun throughout December, so will be easily seen about 15° up half an hour after sunset. It will be moving through Sagittarius up to December 20 and will pass several of the brighter stars of the constellation, including the handle of the teapot, during the first 10 days.

After the 20th, the planet will be in Capricornus where the 8% lit crescent moon joins it on the 27th.

Jupiter will be readily visible to the north as the sky darkens following sunset during December. It transits about 10.40 pm NZDT on the 1st, advancing to 8.40 pm on the 31st, so shortly before sunset.

The planet starts the month in Aries moving in a retrograde sense to the west. It crosses into Pisces on the 5th, but stays close to the border of the two constellations for the rest of the month. It is stationary on the 26th after which it will start moving to the east.

On the evening of December 6 the 85% lit moon will be just under 7° to the lower left of Jupiter, the two getting slightly closer before they set early the following morning. The following evening the moon now 91% lit will be 10° to the lower right of Jupiter.

Morning sky

Mercury is at inferior conjunction on December 4 and will become a morning object rising before the Sun. It will be the end of December before the planet rises early enough for a possible sighting in the dawn sky. Even then it will be a difficult object. On the morning of the 31st it will rise about 80 minutes before the Sun. An hour before sunrise it will be only 3° above the horizon roughly half way between east and southeast. Mercury will be at magnitude -0.4.

Mars remains in the morning sky during December. It will rise about 2am early in the month and just over an hour earlier by the end. Mars will be moving to the east through Leo, taking it away from Regulus. The two will be about 10° apart at the beginning of the month and 20° apart at the end. An hour before sunrise, Regulus will be to the left of Mars.

The moon, just before last quarter, will be about 8.5° above Mars on the morning of December 18.

Saturn moves further up into the morning sky during December. By the end of the month it will rise about three and a half hours before the Sun, making it easily visible to any early risers an hour before sunrise. The planet remains in Virgo and will be about 5° below Spica. Saturn will be slightly brighter than the star.

The crescent moon will be some 8° to the right of Saturn on the morning of the 21st. The previous morning it will be 10° away the other side of Saturn and to the upper left of Spica.


Uranus will set a little before 3am in New Zealand at the beginning of December and about an hour after midnight by the end of the month. So it will remain quite well placed for viewing in the evening after the sky is dark. The planet is in Pisces with a magnitude 5.8.

Neptune sets about 1.30am at the beginning of December and a little before midnight at the end of the month. Early in December, about an hour after sunset Neptune will be to the west 25° above the horizon. At the same time at the end of December it will be only some 6° up, so becoming difficult to observe. The planet at magnitude 7.9, is in Aquarius near its border with Capricornus.

Brighter asteroids:

(1) Ceres, like Neptune, is in Aquarius and so also in the evening sky. It sets about 3am early in December, a little after 1 am at the end. Ceres fades a little during the month from 8.8 to 9.1.

(4) Vesta is in Capricornus at the beginning of December but joins Ceres in Aquarius on December 9. The two are 20° apart by the end of the month. Hence Vesta is also an evening object setting shortly after midnight by the 31st. Vesta´s magnitude drops from 7.9 to 8.2 during December.

(15) Eunomia is in Perseus during December. Having been at opposition on November 29 it will start to lose brightness in December, its magnitude changing from 8.0 to 8.6 during the month. The asteroid is quite low in New Zealand skies, as it will be in Perseus. Early in December it will be close to the 4th magnitude star xi Per, with Eunomia some 9´ to the right of the star on the 3rd.

Eunomia will be about 12° below the Pleiades at 11 pm on the 1st. At the same time on the 31st Eunomia will be about 7° below the cluster, with the asteroid on the border of Taurus.

(433) Eros, the first Near Earth Asteroid to be discovered, will brighten to magnitude 9.5 at the end of December. The asteroid will then be a morning object in Leo rising about 1 am. Watch this space in the New Year.

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

Comets:

Levy, P/2006 T1 will be only some 5° above the horizon about an hour after sunset in late December with an expected magnitude about 8. It should become more visible from the southern hemisphere in the New Year.

- Brian Loader

3. A History of Southland Astronomy

Lloyd Esler has compiled a history of astronomy in Southland in support of the Southland Astronomical Society's 50th Jubilee. Lloyd provides the background: "... the Southland Astronomical Society turned 50 in September this year. I decided a few years ago that a Jubilee publication would be useful. The booklet includes details about the formation of the society and its major projects, Southland's response to events of astronomical significance and its connection with rocketry, UFOs and meteorites."

The 48-page book 'The Story of Astronomy in Southland' covers far more than the past 50 years though. It begins with Maori star lore then traces interest in science generally from the early pioneers of Southland to the present day. It is lavishly illustrated and spiced with reports from the newspapers of the time. The book is both highly informative and a delightful read.

Copies are available for $15 postfree from Lloyd Esler, 15 Mahuri Road, Otatara RD9, Invercargill 9879. Phone/fax 03 213 0404. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

4. Transit of Venus - Educators' Resources

Steven van Roode in Transit of Venus Project Newsletter #6 points out several resources helpful for educators and others interested in the transit.

'Transit of Venus: 1631 to the Present' by Nick Lomb. Published this month the book is larded with large pictures and covers the entire history of the transit of Venus, from the first prediction by Johannes Kepler to the 2004 transit. Nick also gives advice for observing the next transit in 2012 and discusses the importance of this transit to modern astronomy. Nick is the former curator of astronomy at Sydney Observatory. For more information see http://www.sydneyobservatory.com.au/2011/transit-of-venus-the-book/ For a review see http://transitofvenus.nl/wp/2011/11/03/nick-lombs-new-book/

Transit of Venus workbook. Numerous resources for use by science teachers can be found on the education resources page of www.transitofvenus.nl One of these resources, the Transit of Venus: Classroom activities, is now available in print. In forty problems, students get acquainted with the mechanics and periodicity of the transit, measuring distances using parallax and finding exoplanets analysing light curves of other stars. The workbook is also available as free download. The workbooks are printed in black-and-white and have a full-colour cover. To order go to: https://www.lulu.com/commerce/index.php?fBuyContent=11758287

-- Abridged from the newsletter forwarded by Haritina Mogasanu.

5. Free Access to Royal Society Journals and Scientific American

William Tobin writes: London's Royal Society has had periods, announced in this Newsletter, during which access to its on-line journal archive has been free. The Society has now announced permanent free access to all articles more than 70 years old - which includes a lot pertaining to the history of astronomy in the "Philosophical Transactions", such as publications by the Herschels. Visit: http://royalsocietypublishing.org/site/authors/free-archive.xhtml

Some Royal Society journals have even less restrictive access. "Notes & Record of the Royal Society," which publishes mostly history of science, is open-access after only one year.

William also notes that all issues of Scientific American from 1845 to 1909 (which includes a lot of astronomy) are available free on-line until the end of November. Visit:

http://www.nature.com/scientificamerican/archive/index_1909.html

6. SKANZ 2012 Conference

The primary aim of this SKANZ 2012 conference is to foster interaction and collaboration between Australian and New Zealand scientists and engineers, thereby helping to realise the exciting potential of the SKA. It builds on the successful SKANZ 2010 meeting and will again be hosted by the AUT University. The meeting will include sessions on SKA science, SKA precursors, wide-field science, computing for ASKAP and the SKA and transient and high-resolution science.

Where: AUT University. When: 14-16 February 2012 For details and registration see www.aut.ac.nz/skanz2012

-- Dick Manchester, CSIRO (Chair, Science Organising Committee) Sergei Gulyaev, AUT (Chair, Local Organising Committee)

7. NACAA 2012

The 25th National Australian Convention of Amateur Astronomers (NACAA) meets in Brisbane over Easter, April 6-9. The meeting at the University of Queensland campus is hosted by the Astronomical Association of Queensland and supported by other astronomy clubs in South East Queensland.

The sixth Trans-Tasman Symposium on Occultations and the inaugural Variable Stars South Symposium will be held as part of the NACAA programme. Those interested in attending please fill in the form at http://www.nacaa.org.au/2012/interested.

---------- For more information see http://www.nacaa.org.au Email enquiries to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or write to P.O. Box 188, Plumpton, NSW 2761.

8. Third International Starlight Conference

John Hearnshaw writes: Plans for the Starlight Conference at Tekapo, 11-13 June 2012, are progressing well, and from 1 December the website will be able to accept on-line registrations and on-line requests to give an oral or poster paper. Visit www.starlight2012.org for full details.

We are planning a highly multidisciplinary conference on the scientific and cultural benefits of observing dark starlit skies. The meeting will be of interest to RASNZ members and to many other interest groups in education, tourism, environmental protection and to those interested in the cultural and ethnic aspects of astronomy. As participation will be limited, early registration is encouraged.

We have some great international invited speakers coming, and invitations will soon go out to more invited speakers. Here is a summary of the conference topics and international invited speakers:

Topics to be covered: o Role and purpose of a Starlight Reserve o Public education and outreach at a Starlight Reserve o Starlight Reserves and astro-tourism o The Starlight Declaration (2007) and the right to see the stars o Light pollution and light pollution controls through lighting ordinances o The dark sky park movement, including science-based park management and related visitor experiences o Integrating starlight protection with protection for the landscape, ecology and biosphere o Radio astronomy and radio frequency interference (RFI); radio-quiet zones and RFI mitigation; the selection of sites in NZ for radio-astronomy o Starlight Reserves as a protection for astronomical research o Cultural aspects of stars and starlight in civilization and society o The role of the World Heritage Committee and other bodies (International Dark Sky Association, International Union for the Conservation of Nature, government departments, etc) in regulating and operating Starlight Reserves.

International Invited Speakers: o Prof Clive Ruggles - University of Leicester, UK. Member of the ICOMOS- IAU Working Group "Starlight Reserves and World Heritage" o Cipriano Marin - The Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), coordinator of the Starlight Initiative for UNESCO; Secretary general of the UNESCO centre in the Canary Islands o Prof Alec Boksenberg - FRS, Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge, UK. Formerly head of UK National Commission for UNESCO and former director Royal Greenwich Observatory o Reg Wilson, Lighting Analysis & Design, Independent Lighting Consultants Asia-Pacific region representative for the International Darksky Association (IDA) o Steve Owens - Head of IDA Dark Sky Places Development Committee, Dark Skies Consultant, former UK co-ordinator IYA2009

The Starlight Conference is jointly hosted by the University of Canterbury and by RASNZ, and is being sponsored by the University of Canterbury, by RASNZ, by the Royal Society of NZ, by Endeavour Capital Ltd and by the NZ National Commission to UNESCO.

9. RASNZ Conference 2012

Although it is still over 6 months till Conference, planning is well advanced. Both Standing Conference Committee and the Local Organising Committee from The Phoenix Astronomical Society have been working hard to get things in place.

With the next mailing of Southern Stars, there will also be the registration form (this will also be on the RASNZ Webpage), and information about the venue etc. Plus links to accommodation options, and useful transport information.

The Standing Conference Committee is now formally calling for papers and poster-papers. Although the initial deadline for papers is not until 1 April 2012 we encourage you to complete the form as soon as you can, even if it is just an intention to present a paper/poster paper, as this assists Orlon Petterson and Warwick Kissling with the programme schedule. Orlon and Warwick can follow up with you at a later date. To make application to present a paper, please go the RASNZ Webpage (www.rasnz.org.nz). On the index on the left side click on RASNZ Wiki. Then on the sitemap in Wiki click on 'conference' and that will take you to the paper submission form. Complete the form, and submit it.

Further updates will be published in the Newsletter, but it is not too soon to be thinking about the 2012 Conference and your attendance/ participation. If anyone has any queries at this time, please contact us on: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

- Dennis Goodman, Chair, RASNZ Standing Conference Committee

10. Karoo Array Telescope Working

The idea for the world´s most powerful radio telescope, capable of seeing back nearly to the origins of the universe, has been around for some time. Known as the Square Kilometre Array, or SKA - as that was originally planned to be the total collecting area of its thousands of dish-shaped antennae - it was conceived of by an international group of astronomers in the early 1990s. No construction has yet begun. Indeed, no site has yet been chosen. However, in the vast quietness of the Karoo, a semi-desert in South Africa, a small prototype is already operating and its first images are, by all accounts, remarkable.

The Karoo Array Telescope (KAT-7) consists of seven steerable dishes, each 12 metres across. As such, it is already the most powerful array-based telescope in Africa. It is, though, merely a test bed for MeerKAT, a device that will consist of 64 somewhat larger dishes and will be the most powerful instrument in the southern hemisphere as well as one of the three most sensitive in the world.

The SKA will dwarf these minnows. It will be 50-100 times more powerful than any predecessor, and will be able to peer back through time almost to the Big Bang itself, exploring the formation of the first stars and galaxies, the role of magnetism in the early cosmos, what exactly dark matter and dark energy are, the nature of gravity, whether intelligent life has ever existed anywhere other than on Earth, and the validity of such fundamental scientific concepts as Einstein´s theory of relativity. The world´s astronomers are, understandably, fizzing with excitement.

There is, though, the small matter of money. The SKA will cost a lot: EUR1.5 billion-2 billion ($2 billion - 2.75 billion), according to the nine- country consortium behind the project; nearer $6 billion, according to America´s National Science Foundation. On November 23rd those nine countries - Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand and South Africa - and possibly China as well, are due to commit themselves to paying EUR90m for the initial engineering- planning phase. But it will be when the megabuck work on the actual telescope begins in 2016, that the crunch comes.

This is where MeerKAT - named after a species of mongoose found in arid areas of south-western Africa such as the Karoo - could play a crucial role. The construction of its dishes is about to be put out to tender, and it is expected to be fully operational by 2016. If MeerKAT succeeds, it might help persuade sceptical governments to cough up for the SKA. It will also enhance South Africa´s chances of hosting this much larger project.

Originally, America had been expected to participate. But it has now cried off, at least until 2020. The disappointment of this withdrawal, however, is mitigated by the keen interest being shown by China. The country with the world´s second-biggest economy has never invested in a big global science project before.

China was one of the places originally considered as host for the telescope. But it and Argentina have since been dropped, leaving just South Africa and Australia in the race. They are said to be neck and neck. Both offer remote, sparsely populated areas with low levels of man-made radio interference, along with world-class teams of astronomers. Australia has more experience with radio astronomy, but South Africa has the advantage of lower costs and ease of access. As a developing country in which over a third of the population still live on less than $2 a day, it might also be considered to have the greater moral claim. And it has KAT- 7, and will shortly have MeerKAT.

The victor will be announced in February by the board of the not-for- profit company that is to be formed by the participating countries when they formally sign up to start paying for the project. Regardless of who wins, some critics say South Africa´s contribution would be better spent feeding and housing the country´s poor. But if South Africa did succeed, that would mean part of everybody else´s contribution would be spent there as well - a prize worth fighting for. Moreover, the government believes projects like this help inspire people and encourage young South Africans to consider scientific careers. Naledi Pandor, the science and technology minister, is particularly supportive. She sees the SKA as a way to broaden the country´s scientific base and diversify its current white, male- dominated complexion.

The bid also involves eight of South Africa´s neighbours - Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia - and could be the launch pad for a wider scientific renaissance in Africa. Australia will not give up easily, and the outcome may be that the telescope is shared, with some of the antennae in one country and the rest in the other. But even that half loaf would be a useful boost for South African science, and a sign that the traditional powers of the subject are willing to share the goodies.

-- From The Economist 5 November 2011, p. 90. The original article and photo is at http://www.economist.com/node/21536541.

11. Why Uranus and Its Moons Are Upside Down

Uranus's highly tilted axis makes it something of an oddball in our Solar System. The accepted wisdom is that Uranus was knocked on its side by a single large impact. New research rewrites our theories of how Uranus became so tilted. It also solves mysteries about the position and orbits of its moons. From simulations of planetary formation and collisions, it appears that early in its life Uranus experienced a succession of small punches instead of a single knock-out blow. This research has important ramifications on our theories of giant planet formation. The research by an international team led by Alessandro Morbidelli of the Observatoire de la Cote d'Azur in Nice was presented on 6 October at the EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting in Nantes.

Uranus is unusual in that its spin axis is inclined by 98 degrees to its orbital plane. This is far more pronounced than other planets, such as Jupiter (3°), Earth (23°), or Saturn and Neptune (29°). Uranus is, in effect, spinning on its side.

The generally accepted theory is that in the past a body a few times more massive than the Earth collided with Uranus, knocking the planet on its side. There is, however, one significant flaw in this notion. The moons of Uranus should have been left orbiting in their original angles, but they too lie at almost exactly 98°.

Simulations showed that if Uranus had been hit when still surrounded by a protoplanetary disk -- the material from which the moons would form -- then the disk would have reformed into a fat doughnut shape around the new, highly-tilted equatorial plane. Collisions within the disk would have flattened the doughnut, which would then go onto form the moons in the positions we see today.

However, the simulation threw up an unexpected result. In the above scenario, the moons displayed retrograde motion -- that is to say, they orbited in the opposite direction to that which we observe. Morbidelli¹s group tweaked their parameters in order to explain this. The surprising discovery was that if Uranus was not tilted in one go, as is commonly thought, but rather was bumped in at least two smaller collisions, then there is a much higher probability of seeing the moons orbit in the direction we observe.

This research is at odds with current theories of how planets form. The standard planet formation theory assumes that Uranus, Neptune and the cores of Jupiter and Saturn formed by accreting only small objects in the protoplanetary disk. They should not have suffered giant collisions. The fact that Uranus was hit at least twice suggests that significant impacts were typical in the formation of giant planets. So, the standard theory has to be revised.

For more see http://www.europlanet-eu.org/outreach/index.php?option=com_content& task=view&id=359&Itemid=41

-- From a press release forwarded by Karen Pollard.

12. MESSENGER Reports on Mercury (Part 2)

After three successful flybys of Mercury, the MESSENGER spacecraft entered orbit about the innermost planet on March 18. This is the second part of a compilation of MESSENGER results from two sources. One is a press release summarizing seven papers in a special section of the September 30 issue of Science. The other is a summary of 30 papers and posters presented on October 5 as part of a special session of the joint meeting of the European Planetary Science Congress and the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society in Nantes, Frances.

The Evolution of Mercury's Geological and Surface Composition

After its first Mercury solar day in orbit, MESSENGER has nearly completed two of its primary global imaging campaigns: a monochrome map at 250 meters per pixel and an eight-colour, 1 km per pixel colour map. Apart from small gaps, which will be filled in during the next solar day, these maps cover the entire planet under uniform lighting conditions ideal for assessing the form of Mercury's surface features as well as the colour and compositional variations across the planet.

Flybys of Mercury by the MESSENGER and Mariner 10 spacecraft showed broad expanses of plains across the planet. These are volcanic in origin. Where geologic mapping and detailed compositional information are both available, many of the large-scale volcanic units on Mercury are seen to be basaltic. Basalts are common volcanic rocks on Earth and the Moon.

Variations in Surface Reflectance Spectra

Over the course of the first solar day in orbit, the Visible and Infrared Spectrograph (VIRS) channel of the Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer (MASCS) obtained over one million spectra of the surface from near one pole to the other and spanning all longitudes. VIRS observed all the major geologic units and structures, from large basins to small fresh-looking craters, and from average pains to hollows and possible pyroclastic materials. Whereas the Mercury Dual Imaging System highlights the morphology and broad colour characteristics of these materials, VIRS reveals greater details of the reflective properties of surface materials.

One surprise is the apparent lack of iron in the silicate minerals of the rocks on the surface of Mercury. In rock-forming silicates, the primary materials of most planetary crusts, iron shows up as a characteristic absorption at infrared wavelengths. Such features have been completely absent in spectra from Mercury.

Iron in rocks also affects the ultra-violet region of the spectrum, but those effects are less well studied and understood. However it is here that variations are seen among, for example, fresh-looking craters, plains, hollows, pyroclastic deposits, and low-reflectance units.

Mercury's Global Magnetic Field

Earth, Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune all have intrinsic magnetic fields, but MESSENGER found that Mercury´s weak field is different. So too are particle acceleration processes in Mercury's magnetosphere. MESSENGER's observations of energetic electrons indicated that their distribution is not consistent with what are known as Van Allen radiation belts. These belts are bands of charged particles that interact with the magnetic field and surround the planets.

Mercury´s magnetic equator is also well to the north of the planet´s geographic equator. The best-fitting internal dipole magnetic field is located about 480 km northward of the planet's centre, nearly 20% of its radius. Relative to the planet's size, this offset is much more than in any other planet, and accounting for it will pose a challenge to theoretical explanations of the field.

The offset means that the magnetic field in the southern hemisphere should be a lot weaker than it is in the north. At the north geographic pole, the magnetic field should be about 3.5 times stronger than it is at the south geographic pole. Thus energetic particles, solar wind, and high-energy electrons will preferentially impact the surface in the south. This will lead to the south being the sources of atoms, ions, and molecules for Mercury's exosphere. It should also become more discoloured by charged particle bombardment.

MESSENGER's Fast Imaging Plasma Spectrometer detected helium ions throughout the entire volume of Mercury´s magnetosphere. The conclusion is that helium must be generated through surface interactions with the solar wind. Helium is delivered by the solar wind, implanted on the surface of Mercury, and then fans out in all directions.

Mercury´s weak magnetosphere provides very little protection from the solar wind. Extreme space weather must be a continuing activity at the surface.

The Dynamics of Mercury's Exosphere

Mercury is surrounded by a tenuous exosphere of gas generated and maintained by the interaction of the space environment with the planet¹s surface. Measuring the composition and structure of the exosphere provides insight into how the space environment modifies the outermost layers of the planet's surface materials.

MESSENGER's observations during the flybys and orbit show that the current understanding of the nature of Mercury¹s exosphere is incomplete. They show that distinctly different source and loss processes control the amounts of sodium, magnesium, and calcium atoms in the exosphere.

New magnetic field models have been derived from MESSENGER's Magnetometer data. These indicate that the planet's intrinsic field can couple with the interplanetary field to direct solar wind ions to the night side. There the ions sputter material from non-illuminated surfaces. But that source is too weak to explain the observed concentrations. Calcium also exhibits an unexplained enhanced concentration at the equator near dawn, a pattern that appears to be a persistent feature in the exosphere. Such dawn enhancements are not observed for magnesium, which is chemically similar to calcium.

Text & Image: http://www.europlanet-eu.org/outreach/index.php?option=com_content&task =view&id=356&Itemid=41

-- the press releases were forwarded by Karen Pollard.

13. Chemical Element Named After Copernicus

The General Assembly of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP), taking place at the Institute of Physics in London, approved on November 4 the names of three new elements. Elements 110, 111 and 112 have been named darmstadtium (Ds), roentgenium (Rg) and copernicium (Cn) respectively.

The General Assembly approved these suggestions from the Joint Working Party on the Discovery of Elements, which is a joint body of IUPAP and the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC). See the Institute of Physics website at http://www.iop.org

-- From an Institute of Physics press release forwarded by Karen Pollard.

14. "Treasures of the Southern Sky"

Rob Gendler points out his book, recently published by Springer, and co- authored with David Malin and Lars Lindberg Christensen. Springer's website blurb says "Treasures of the Southern Sky" celebrates the unique beauty and richness of the southern sky in words and with world-class imagery. In part, a photographic anthology of deep sky wonders south of the celestial equator, this book also celebrates the human story of southern astronomy with an engaging and detailed history of key contributors to southern sky exploration. Ample and informative text provides the reader with intriguing facts and useful information about the featured objects.

This volume, arranged by southern hemisphere season, brings to the printed page many of the most provocative and beautiful astronomical images of our time, many in print for the very first time. The collection of imagery covers a full range of deep sky astronomical objects, from the familiar and iconic to the more obscure but no less intriguing. Masterful, state of the art, professional and amateur astrophotography highlights the authors' carefully selected deep sky "treasures"."

See http://www.robgendlerastropics.com/Cover-TSS.html

-- passed along by John Drummond.

15. How to Join the RASNZ

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

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

16. 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., R O'Keeffe, 662 Onewhero-Tuakau Bridge Rd, RD 2, TUAKAU 2697

17. 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. R O'Keeffe, 662 Onewhero-Tuakau Bridge Rd, RD 2, TUAKAU 2697

18. Quote

"What some people mistake for the high cost of living is the cost of high living." -- Doug Larson.

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