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

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


1. What the RASNZ Does
2. The Solar System in March
3. Council and Executive Nominations
4. RASNZ Annual General Meeting
5. Wellington Astro-music Concert - March 16
6. NACAA 2012 - April 6-9
7. Third International Starlight Conference
8. RASNZ Conference June 15-17
9. SKA Note
10. Astronomer in Australia Day Honours
11. Royal Greenwich Observatory Tour
12. Strange Variable Stars in Harvard Plates
13. Antikythera to the Square Kilometre Array
14. How to Join the RASNZ
15. Gifford-Eiby Lecture Fund
16. Kingdon-Tomlinson Fund

1. What the RASNZ Does

An inquiry to the nzastronomers Yahoo! Group about what the RASNZ does got this response from RASNZ President Glen Rowe:

The RASNZ Annual Report is a good place to get a full summary of what the Society does. As a member you get 11 monthly e-mailed Newsletters [12 in 2011], 4 issues of Southern Stars and other publications such as Jennie McCormick's 'Keeping in Touch' newsletter. On a broader scale you are helping the Society to support a range of activities.

Whilst an individual member may benefit from only some of the following, your support of the Society will enable it to remain viable so it can continue to provide services at a national level without which astronomy in NZ would be so much the poorer.

The Society's premier event each year is the Annual Conference. This provides a valuable opportunity to showcase the latest research by our professional astronomers alongside presentations on a wide variety of topics.

The Society's web-site is a valuable resource for astronomical information. It gets nearly 250,000 visits per year so appears very popular.

Our Member Body status with the Royal Society provides the opportunity, as required, to comment on astronomical related matters at both the government level and internationally through the International Astronomical Union.

RASNZ is fortunate to have access to the Kingdon-Tomlinson Bequest. Through this, many individual and societies have benefited from grants made to assist with equipment purchases and projects that promote astronomy in NZ.

We also have two lectureship schemes. The Gifford-Eiby covers travel expenses for speakers to travel within NZ to present a lecture or run a workshop to a society or group of members. A more recent initiative is the RASNZ Lecture Trust which enables an international astronomer to be brought to NZ to deliver a number of Beatrice-Tinsley Lectures.

We encourage our affiliated societies to take advantage of the services we offer as a way of providing additional resources/opportunities to benefit their members. In response to a suggestion made at the last Affiliated Societies meeting, RASNZ will shortly be marketing safe solar viewers for unaided viewing of the Transit of Venus and partial eclipse later this year.

The Society has a number of sections (Variable Stars, Occultations, Comet & Meteors, Aurora & Solar, Astrophotography) that support and encourage their members' observational endeavours and interests.

In addition there are three groups that promote other initiatives.  The
Professional Astronomers' Group attends to the needs of the professional
community within NZ.  Indeed one of the special strengths of the RASNZ is
its strong relationship with our professional astronomers.  The Education
Group is developing plans to increase an awareness of astronomy within
both the educational and public arenas.  The Dark Sky Group is working
hard to promote the benefits of minimising light pollution and preserving
our wonderful night skies.  RASNZ is providing support to the initiative
to have a Starlight Reserve designated in the Tekapo area and also for the
International Starlight Conference being held there in June of this year.

I hope that this summary gives some idea of what a member "gets" in return for their subscription. Just as the advertisement for a certain card says, some of these benefits are priceless.

2. The Solar System in March

The usual notes on the visibility of the Planets for March 2012 are on the RASNZ web site: Notes for April 2012 will be on line in a few days.

The planets in march

Venus and Jupiter will be a brilliant pair low to the west following sunset. They are closest mid March when they set at about the time of the end of astronomical twilight.

Mars is at opposition and brightest at the beginning of March so visible all evening and most of the night. Saturn rises 90 minutes or so after Mars and is easily visible to the east late evening.

Mercury is too close to the Sun to see in March, being at inferior conjunction on the 21st. It becomes a good morning object in April.


Venus and Jupiter are in conjunction during March. The two planets will be closest on March 14 with Jupiter 3 degrees above Venus. They will be visible low to the west after sunset. Venus starts March 12 degrees to the left of, and a little lower than Jupiter. By the end of the month Venus will have moved to be 15 degrees to the right of Jupiter and be slightly higher.

Both Venus and Jupiter steadily set earlier during March. But Venus sets about 100 minutes after the Sun throughout March, slightly more in the north of NZ and slightly less in the south. It will actually set a little later after the Sun at the end of March than at the beginning. Jupiter, on the other hand, sets about 2 hours after the Sun at the beginning of March dropping to 80 minutes later at the end.

During March, Venus will move across Aries, entering the constellation from Pisces on the 5th and moving on into Taurus on the 30th. On the 31st it will be only 3 degrees to the left of the Pleiades. The latter are likely to require binoculars to see in the dusk sky. Jupiter, moving much more slowly through the stars will be in Aries all month. During March it moves about 6 degrees to the east.

The crescent moon will join the two planets on the 26th when it will be about 5 degrees from Jupiter and 6 from Venus, with the moon a little lower than the planets. The following evening the moon will be about 5 degrees to the upper right of Venus and 3 degrees to the upper left of the Pleiades.


Mars is at opposition on March 4 (NZDT) and is at its closest to the Earth, 0.674AU (100.78 million km) two days later. It will then be 1.664AU from the Sun. This is a relatively poor opposition of Mars which will have an angular diameter just under 14". Even, so with a magnitude -1.2, Mars will be almost as bright as Sirius.

The planet will be in Leo, moving to the west towards Regulus, magnitude 1.4. The separation of the star and planet drops from 15 degrees on the 1st to 5.5 degrees on the 31st. Mars and Regulus will be obvious objects to the northeast in the late evening early in March and by the time the evening sky darkens at the end. The planet rises about 15 minutes after sunset on the 1st, about 80 minutes before sunset on the 31st.

The moon will pass Regulus and Mars on the nights of March 7 and 8. The moon is full and at its closest to Mars on the latter date, with the two just under 10° apart as seen from New Zealand in the early evening.

Saturn rises about 100 minutes after Mars on March 1, increasing to about 2 hours later on the 31st. In real time this means Saturn will rise about 10pm NZDT on the 1st and 8pm on the 31st. So it is still best seen late evening. Two hours after it rises, Saturn will be about 20 degrees up a little to the north of east.

The planet will remain in Virgo 7 to 6 degrees below Spica as seen in the evening. It is nearly a magnitude brighter than the star.

Saturn will of course also be visible in the morning sky before sunrise. At the end of March at 7am the planet and star will be to the west with Regulus to the left of Saturn.

The moon, a little past full will be closest to Spica and Saturn for the month on the evenings of 10 and 11 March respectively. At midnight on the 10th it will be 5° to the upper left of Spica; on the 11th, 7° to the right of Saturn.

Mercury is also an evening object early in March but sets only some 30 minutes after the Sun on the 1st so is not likely to be visible. It is at inferior conjunction with the Sun on March 20, so becoming a morning object at the end of the month. By then it will rise about 75 minutes before the Sun, but at magnitude 2.3 it is not likely to be visible in the brightening dawn sky.

Uranus is at conjunction with the Sun on March 25 (NZDT) so will be too close to the Sun to observe all month.

Neptune, having been at conjunction with the Sun in February will be a morning object. By the end of the month it will rise more than two and a half hours before the Sun. The planet will be in Aquarius at magnitude 8.

Brighter asteroids:

None of the brighter asteroids will be readily visible in March.

Both (1) Ceres and (4) Vesta will be low to very low objects to the west in the early evening sky during March. This will make them very difficult binocular objects in the twilight. Their magnitudes will be just over 9 and 8 respectively. They are about 12.5 degrees apart early in March, 10 degrees apart at the end of the month. Both are in conjunction with the Sun during April.

(433) Eros will be at magnitude 9.2 early in March, and will fade quite rapidly during the month. It will be high in NZ evening skies in Antlia.

More details and charts for these minor planets can be found on the RASNZ web site. Follow the link to asteroids 2012.

-- Brian Loader.

3. Council and Executive Nominations

2012, being an even numbered year, is an election year for the RASNZ Council. Nominations are requested for all officers and council positions. The positions for which nominations are required are: President, Incoming vice-president, Executive secretary, Treasurer, five Council members.

In addition the fellows need to nominate a fellows representative. Affiliated Societies will elect two representatives at the affiliated societies' committee meeting held prior to the AGM. The current president, Glen Rowe, automatically becomes a vice-president. The rules do not allow the president to serve a second consecutive term. By the terms of rule 74, nominations, including any for the fellows representative, need to be sent in writing to the Executive Secretary by 15 March 2012.

If you would like a nomination form please email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The nomination must specify the name of the candidate and the office sought. It must be signed by the proposer and seconder and be accompanied by the written consent of the nominee. The address to which nominations should be sent, as soon as possible, is: RASNZ Executive Secretary, 662 Onewhero-Tuakau Bridge Rd, RD 2, TUAKAU 2697.

A postal ballot will be held in April 2012 for any position for which the number of candidates exceeds the number of appointees required.

Rory O´Keeffe, Executive Secretary, RASNZ

The Newsletter Editor and the Webmaster wouldn't mind others applying to the new Council for their jobs, either. -- Ed.

4. RASNZ Annual General Meeting

The 2012 Annual General Meeting of RASNZ will be held during the conference as usual. However the Annual Conference will be held 15 - 17 June 2012 in Carterton. This is to place the conference after the transit of Venus and the 3rd Annual International Starlight Conference which is being held in Tekapo from 11 to 13 June. Normally the AGM should be held before the end of May but Rule 64 of the RASNZ Rules allows for Council to delay the AGM for special circumstances.

Any notices of motion need to reach the RASNZ Secretary at least six weeks before the AGM, so would need to be received by 5 May 2012. A formal notice of the AGM will be sent out in the next newsletter with details of location and time.

Rory O'Keeffe, Executive Secretary RASNZ.

5. Wellington Astro-music Concert - March 16

Toronto's Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra is bringing "The Galileo Project" to Australia and New Zealand in March; it will be at Wellington Town Hall on 16 March.

The programme has been created by Tafelmusik's double-bass player Alison Mackay. It includes images, narration, choreography, and music -- all memorized. It has toured Canada, the US, Mexico, and Asia, and now Australia and NZ, and Europe in the future. It's an outstanding fusion of astronomy and the arts. And it's received rave reviews. You can find out more at:

There's more information about the tour at: 2012/artists-touring/tafelmusik

-- from an article by John Percy, Professor Emeritus: Astronomy & Astrophysics, University of Toronto. See last month's Newsletter, Item 7.

6. NACAA 2012 - April 6-9

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.

Register for NACAA 2012 at 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.

7. Third International Starlight Conference

The Starlight Conference is at Lake Tekapo, 11-13 June 2012. The website is accepting registrations and on-line requests to give an oral or poster paper. Visit for full details.

It will be a 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.

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.

-- Abridged from an note by John Hearnshaw.

8. RASNZ Conference June 15-17

The RASNZ's 2012 annual Conference is being held at the Carterton Events Centre, June 15-17. The registration form is available on the RASNZ Webpage ( Or it can also be accessed via RASNZ Wiki (, as can the publicity brochure. All members have received conference registration forms with the December issue of Southern Stars.

At this time we are issuing a call for papers and poster-papers (Link on the website). Even if you are just thinking of presenting a paper please submit the form, and we can follow up with you at a later date.

On the Friday of Conference there will be an Astronomy Outreach Workshop. This is being co-ordinated by Ron Fisher, and again details are available on the RASNZ Webpage, under Conference.

The Carterton Events Centre is a delightful complex. The information centre and library are part of the same complex. The management are very friendly and helpful and are very much looking forward to hosting us.

Carterton itself has a great range of shopping, cafes etc. There are plenty of accommodation options in and around the town - many are listed on the information supplied with the registration form. Also, Masterton is just 13km up the road in one direction, and Greytown 7km away in the other direction. We know from past conferences that people like to have a range of options available, and Carterton certainly has that range.

The nearest airport is Masterton, but only receives one air service a day, from Auckland. We envisage many people might fly into Wellington, and get the train through to Carterton. The timetable has been printed on the publicity brochure.

Our guest speaker is Associate Professor Wayne Orchiston. Wayne is a past Executive Director of Carter Observatory and is currently Associate Professor in the Centre for Astronomy at James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland. Details of his talks are on the RASNZ Webpage. We also hope to announce a further guest speaker shortly.

The Fellows Lecture for 2012 will be delivered by Dr Edwin Budding. Ed is currently a Research Fellow at Victoria University, and also at the Physics and Astronomy Department at the University of Canterbury. Ed also worked at the Carter Observatory.

Our hosting society, the Phoenix Astronomical Society, are working hard to ensure we receive a warm welcome. And they are organising some local activities for attendees.

See the RASNZ Webpage for speaker details and updates. There will also be updates in each RASNZ Newsletter leading up to Conference.

-- from notes by Orlon Petterson and Dennis Goodman of the RASNZ Standing Conference Committee.

9. SKA Note

The following note was circulated and endorsed by the Astronomical Society of Australia on January 27. ------------- Dear colleagues,

With the site decision on the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope only weeks away, I thought it would be helpful to provide a short summary of the status of the Australia-New Zealand SKA site bid and some further information on possible discussion topics relating to the site decision. I hope that this will assist you in any discussions you may have in the lead-up to the decision.

If anything is unclear at all, or if you have any media enquiries about the SKA site decision that you wish to pass on, please refer them to Dr. Lisa Harvey-Smith, CSIRO SKA Project Scientist email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or to Prof. Brian Boyle, the Australia-New Zealand SKA Director, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Lisa Harvey-Smith CSIRO SKA Project Scientist -----------

On September 15th the Australia-New Zealand SKA Co-ordination Committee submitted a 150 page response (with over 1000 pages of supporting material) to a request for information from the SKA candidate sites. Over 40 different organisations contributed to the document, which was signed by the Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zealand and the Premier of Western Australia.

The ANZ team sent four representatives to London on December 8th to give a 90-minute presentation followed by a question and answer session on the various factors within the response. The interview went well and the group were given a fair hearing. The ANZ team responded to a few additional questions shortly after the interview, which represented our last input into the process before the SKA Site Advisory Committee (SSAC) make their recommendation on a preferred site in mid-February. The board of the newly-incorporated "SKA Organisation" is expected to make a final decision on the site after a possible negotiation period which might last a few weeks.

The ANZ SKA bid team support the SSAC's role in making a clear, merit- based recommendation on a single site for the SKA. We have therefore agreed to refrain from directly comparing the two sites in the media.

Nevertheless, it is useful to talk about the key attributes of the Australia-New Zealand site. These include:

(i) exquisite radio-quietness, underpinned by a very low population density (2 nano-people per square metre!) and a strict legislative framework for spectrum management

(ii) a 5,000 km maximum baseline with existing broadband connectivity stretching right across Australia and NZ

(iii) a low sovereign risk to the project, with political stability and ease of doing business between Australia, New Zealand and to the rest of the world

(iv) a fantastic work and living environment with good schools, hospitals, low crime rate that will attract and retain the best staff.

There has been a level of speculation and scuttlebutt about the respective strengths of the two bids. As we approach the site decision I think it would be worth addressing some of them here.

Rumour: "Both sites are equally radio-quiet"

There is absolutely no evidence to substantiate this. Both sites have been tested using identical equipment and the results of this comparison are in a confidential report in the hands of the SSAC.

Rumour: "Satellites will dominate your spectrum, so it doesn't matter where you put the SKA"

This argument is flawed - if it were true we could put the SKA close to a city. Although interference from satellites currently dominates the spectrum at some frequencies, in the very wide SKA observing band between 70 MHz and 10 GHz the vast majority of the spectrum lies between the satellite interference lines. It is this intervening spectrum that must remain very clear of terrestrial interference.

Rumour: "SKA will be much cheaper to build in Africa"

There are no grounds for this assertion. Site-specific construction costs make up a small fraction of the total project cost of the SKA. ANZ can offer a cost-effective and efficient solution for the SKA, and has a great deal to offer the project, such as our affordable high bandwidth optic- fibre network already available across Australia and New Zealand.

Rumour: "The site should be split between ANZ and South Africa"

The "SKA Design Reference Mission", or science requirements document, states that the SKA shall be capable of conducting observations from different receptor types simultaneously. There are many good scientific reasons for doing so. As there is only ~4 hours of shared sky between the two sites, a split site would seriously reduce the science return. Furthermore, with a split site much of the power, transport, maintenance and operational infrastructure and staff would have to be duplicated at a large additional cost to the project.

Rumour: "The European Union has come out to support the African Bid"

This statement is incorrect and the Communication Unit of the European Commission´s Research & Innovation DG has re-affirmed that the European Commission does not take sides regarding the decision about a final site for the SKA. This month a document "Declaration 45" was distributed to Members of the European Parliament. The declaration expresses the desire to support radio astronomy in Africa and has been signed by a number of MEPs. The document does not mention the SKA at all, despite media reports to the contrary. We reiterate our support for the SKA Site Advisory Committee, who will make a merit-based recommendation on the preferred site for the SKA based upon the factual information and scientific data from the two candidate sites. We believe it would be better for the European Parliament to delay the Written Declaration until after an SKA site decision has been made, so that the Declaration can be informed by the objective outcome of the site selection process.

------- Let´s keep the competition honest and challenge these assertions when they are made. It´s vital that the SKA site selection process be above reproach and based on the facts, not rumours and spin.

Dr. Lisa Harvey-Smith CSIRO SKA Project Scientist | CSIRO Astronomy & Space Science

10. Astronomer in Australia Day Honours

Kate Brooks, Astronomical Society of Australia President, wrote to ASA members: "Please join me in congratulating CSIRO SKA Executive Officer and ASA member Dr Michelle Storey for her award of a Public Service Medal in the 2012 Australia Day Honours.

Michelle's citation is as follows:

PUBLIC SERVICE MEDAL (PSM) Dr Michelle Claire STOREY, Hornsby NSW 2077 For outstanding public service in establishing the Murchison Radioastronomy Observatory and for assisting Australia's bid to host the international Square Kilometre Array project. Dr Storey has served as a trusted technical adviser and has made major contributions in placing Australia in a leading position in one of the most ambitious and innovative scientific projects of the 21st century. The Murchison Radioastronomy Observatory is now home to the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder telescope that is a section of the global multi-science project to build the world's largest radio telescope and is Australia's new premier radiotelescope. This cutting edge infrastructure has been developed to capture vast quantities of radioastromomy data and to facilitate new discoveries about the universe. Dr Storey's dedication has played a largely unheralded role in ensuring that future generations of Australian scientists and engineers continue the tradition of innovation in Australia.

Congratulations Michelle."

11. Royal Greenwich Observatory Tour

Joe Mann provided this travel advisory for anyone planning to visit the UK:

Just thought I'd share a bit about my visit to the Royal Greenwich Observatory, the Maritime Museum and Queens House in Greenwich London.

The RGO has been upgraded since my last visit five years ago, but it's now a great tourist attraction, with plenty of history, and modern public education facilities. The maritime clocks are a tinkerer's dream, and the observatories are very interesting historically, and one is a dedicated solar observatory! This week they have the Astrophotographer of the Year exhibition, with some breathtaking images from people of all ages around Europe.

Just down the hill from the observatory is the National Maritime Museum, which is also undergoing major upgrades. This is a surprisingly excellent place to visit for any Kiwi interested in astronomy, as it houses equipment used by James Cook on all three of his expeditions. It is amazing to read his actual log books and journals, and look at the instruction booklet written for the transit of Venus experiments.

The telescopes fitted with micrometers, and navigational instruments used by Cook and the other astronomers are all on display, and are amazingly crafted, and look as if they are brand new. It is unbelievable at how these instruments have been cared for and preserved over the centuries.

However, a real treat is in Queen's House next door to the museum. It's the only remaining palace in Greenwich, but now houses maritime art collections. Of real interest is the gallery of William Hodges who was the artist painter who went with Cook on his second expedition, to record the events and places visited. There are some great early paintings of very olde New Zealand, with the expedition, and even one painting showing the portable observatory set up in Dusky Bay!

It is rare to get so close to so much important early history, and I would wholly recommend anyone visiting London to visit these three places in Greenwich, its a real treat, and to make it even better, it was all free!

Another bonus of course is to see the northern skies, but unfortunately you need to be well away from London for that.

-------- Watch 'Southern Stars' for an illustrated article by Joe.

12. Strange Variable Stars in Harvard Plates

A century's worth of astronomical photographic plates have revealed a slew of new variable stars, many of which alter on timescales and in ways never before seen.

The discoveries come from a new analysis of some of the 500,000 plates made by the Harvard College Observatory from the 1880s through the 1980s, covering the whole sky. The trove of old-school data has offered astronomers an unprecedented look at how stars change over long timescales.

"The Harvard College observatory has the most wonderful, best collection [of photographic plates] in the world," said Harvard graduate student Sumin Tang, who works on the plate analysis program. "It's a very unique resource because it's over 100 years. No other data set could do this." Tang presented some of the new findings at the 219th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Austin, Texas.

The plates are relics from an earlier era, when researchers used glass surfaces coated with light-sensitive silver salts to record the visions seen by telescopes. The Harvard collection includes plates made with dozens of telescopes. Starting in the 1990s, photographic plates were replaced with more sensitive CCDs (charge-coupled devices), which are digital light sensors. Smaller versions of these same devices power digital cameras.

Now scientists are trying to digitize the plate collection, basically using CCDs to image the plates, then applying an algorithm to quantify how bright stars appear and search for variations over time. The project, called Digital Access to a Sky Century@Harvard (Dasch), is headed by Harvard astronomer Jonathan Grindlay.

Most of the stars in the plate collection were imaged between 500 and 1,500 times, providing ample evidence for some weird stellar behaviour. So far, only 4 percent of the plates have been digitized, but that data set alone has turned up some new finds. The team hopes to digitize the whole collection over the next three to five years.

Several different new types of variables have been found. For example a class of stars that all vary in the same, weird way. These stars all happen to belong to a class called K giants, with temperatures of about 4,400 Kelvin (4,100 C). Over decades they become brighter and dimmer by a factor of two. The researchers think the stars can actually be divided into two classes: binary (double star) systems, and single stars, with two different mechanisms behind their variations.

The binary variables are possibly caused by strong magnetic activity stimulated by interactions between the two stars. The other group might vary due to some little-understood gas processes.

Another weird set of variable stars discovered in the data are called symbiotic stars, which are pairs of stars where one is hot and the other cool - for example, a red giant and a white dwarf star orbiting each other. Some process is causing some of these star systems to alter in brightness over decades, but astronomers aren't sure what. They suspect the phenomenon might be related to nuclear burning of hydrogen on the surface of the white dwarf star, or accretion of mass onto one of the stars.

Ultimately, the researchers hope the project reveals much more about how stars evolve over time.

The project is supported by the National Science Foundation and the Cornel and Cynthia K. Sarosdy Fund for DASCH.

-------- From alternatively Or stars.html?utm_content=SPACEdotcom&utm_campaign=seo%2Bblitz&utm_source=

13. Antikythera to the Square Kilometre Array

Few of us could attend this conference, but the summary is fascinating. --------------- From Antikythera to the Square Kilometre Array: Lessons from the Ancients

More than a hundred years ago an extraordinary mechanism was found by sponge divers at the bottom of the sea near the island of Antikythera in Greece. This Antikythera mechanism is an ancient computer from about 100BC which uses bronze gears to make astronomical calculations based on cycles of the Solar System. Now, more than 2000 years after the device was lost at sea, scientists have used the latest techniques in X-ray computed tomography and reflectance imaging to understand its intricate workings. (see Links to Antikythera Mechanism for details)

In June 2012 we plan to hold a workshop linking modern and ancient astronomical technology through the Antikythera theme. We will explore the evolution of astrometry and computing from ancient Greece to the present, we will compare the technologies used to unravel the secrets of the Antikythera mechanism with the imaging tools of modern astronomy, and most importantly, as we pursue our vision of an exciting scientific future with telescopes such as the Square Kilometre Array we can reflect on why the Antikythera technology was lost for more than a thousand years and whether this can happen again.

The workshop will be held in the village of Kerastari in the ancient region of Arcadia in Greece, 12-16 June 2012. Due to the limitations of the venue, participation will be limited to about 80 people. Pre-registration is now open on the website. Details at:

14. 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..

15. Gifford-Eiby Lecture Fund

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

For an application form contact the Executive Secretary This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., R O'Keeffe, 662 Onewhero-Tuakau Bridge Rd, RD 2, TUAKAU 2697

16. Kingdon-Tomlinson Fund

The RASNZ is responsible for recommending to the trustees of the Kingdon Tomlinson Fund that grants be made for astronomical projects. The grants may be to any person or persons, or organisations, requiring funding for any projects or ventures that promote the progress of astronomy in New Zealand. Full details are set down in the RASNZ By-Laws, Section J.

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


"I'd be more enthusiastic about thinking outside the box when there's evidence of any thinking going on inside it." -- Terry Pratchett.

"Ours is the age that is proud of machines that think and suspicious of men who try to." -- H. Mumford Jones.

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