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. Sun Viewers for Venus Transit
2. The Solar System in May
3. RASNZ Annual General Meeting
4. Third International Starlight Conference
5. RASNZ Conference June 15-17
6. Astronomer´s Dream: Home & Astronomy Income
7. Venus Transit Photographers Sought
8. Satellite Galaxies Threaten Dark Matter
9. Find Hubble's Best Pictures
10. Yellow Supergiants Surveyed in LMC and M33
11. Solar 'Climate Change' Could Cause Rougher Space Weather
12. Earth's Minimoons
13. How to Join the RASNZ
14. Gifford-Eiby Lecture Fund
15. Kingdon-Tomlinson Fund
16. Here and There

1. Sun Viewers for Venus Transit

Solar viewers suitable for observing the transit of Venus now available.

The RASNZ has sourced a supply of viewers that will be ideal for viewing the transit of Venus that will take place, and be visible from New Zealand weather permitting, on 6 June 2012.

These viewers have been safety tested by one of the world's leading authorities on solar viewing devices and provide full eye protection when observing the Sun directly. Note that the viewer should not be used in conjunction with any optical device such as telescope, binoculars, camera etc.

During the transit, Venus is of sufficient apparent diameter to be able to be seen by eye through the filter. Later in the year an eclipse of the Sun will occur and the viewer will also provide a safe and easy way to observe this event, too. Each viewer is supplied with an information sheet about these two events.

Order your Solar Viewers by going to: http://www.rasnz..org.nz/Sales/SolarViewers.html

-- Glen Rowe, President RASNZ. ----------------------------------

Jennie McCormick adds:

These handy viewers have been safety tested for RASNZ by Associate Professor Ralph Chou (School of Optometry, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada) for use during the Transit of Venus on the 6th of June and the Partial Eclipse on November 14th this year.

Your astronomical society or group may like to place an order to sell the viewers to the local community - a perfect way to fundraise, to promote your group, or to use during your own organised events.

There is nothing like exciting astronomical 'goings on' to stir the public's imagination and to get everyone along to check out what your group gets up to.

To order online see http://www.rasnz.org.nz/Sales/SolarViewers.html

Orders for 1 to 9 viewers $2.50 each Orders for 10 to 99 viewers $2.00 each Orders for 100 or more viewers $1.50 each All prices include postage and packing.

As these events will take place during the working week, family, friends, workmates and local schools might like to order a few, so please pass on the information.

2. The Solar System in May

The usual notes on the visibility of the Planets for May 2012 are on the RASNZ web site: http://www.rasnz.org.nz/SolarSys/May_12.htm. Notes for June 2012 will be on line in a few days.

The planets in may

Jupiter is at conjunction with the Sun on May 13, so will be too close to the Sun to observe during the month.

Venus is low in the sky to the northwest following sunset early in the month but is much lower later in May. Mars and Saturn are easy evening objects all month

Mercury starts May as an easy morning object but disappears later in May.

Planets in the evening sky

Venus sets about 100 minutes after the Sun in the first part of the month so will be an obvious object, low to the northwest, after sunset. The planet is stationary on May 16, after which it starts moving back to the west and towards the Sun. As a result it will rapidly get lower in the evening sky to disappear before the end of May. Inferior conjunction, with the transit of Venus, is of course on June 6.

Venus is in Taurus throughout May, only a few degrees from El Nath, beta Tau, at magnitude 1.7 the second brightest star in the constellation. The star and planet are closest on May 7 when they are less than a degree apart with Venus above El Nath. During the next few evenings, while Venus is still moving to the east, the distance between the two increases slightly. After being stationary, Venus will swing back again but now a little further above the star, but they remain less than 2 degrees apart up to the 20th. By then El Nath will be so low it will be very difficult to see even in binoculars.

On the evening of May 23 the moon will be just under 6 degrees above Venus. The moon will be a very thin crescent only 4% lit. 15 minutes after sunset, Venus will be to the northwest only 5 degrees above the horizon.

Mars is highest and to the north about 8.30 pm on May 1 and 7.00 pm on the 31st. So it is best placed for observation early evening. Later in the evening it will be to the northwest and lower. Having been stationary in April, the planet will be moving steadily to the east through Leo. This will take it away from Regulus, alpha Leo, their separation increasing to nearly 15 degrees by the end of May.

The distance of the Earth from Mars increases from 141.5 million km on May 1 to 177 million km on May 31. Consequently the brightness of the planet drops from magnitude 0.0 to 0.5 during the month. That is still considerably brighter than the 1.4 of Regulus.

The 70% lit moon will be 7 degrees from Regulus and Mars on May 1. The moon will be at the top of a near isosceles triangle formed by the three. On the 29th the moon will again be above Mars and a little closer to the planet. The moon will then be just past first quarter.

Saturn is following Mars across the evening sky. It is highest at about 11.30 pm at the beginning of May advancing to about 9.30 pm by the end of the month. Saturn is nearly 20 degrees further south than Mars so will transit that much higher than the red planet.

Saturn will remain in Virgo during May, moving slowly in a retrograde sense to the west. It will be 5°; from Spica, so the two forming an obvious pair with Saturn below Spica much of the evening. By late evening the rotation of the sky will bring Saturn more round to the right of Spica.

Saturn´s magnitude will drop from 0.3 to 0.5 during May, so it and Mars will be similar in brightness. Spica is a little fainter than Saturn at magnitude 1.1.

The moon, just short of full will be at its closest to Saturn and Spica on the evening of May 4. At 9 pm the moon will be 5 degrees to the upper left of Spica and just over 8 degrees from Saturn.

Morning sky

Mercury is visible in the morning sky in the first part of May, the brightest object low in the sky about 20 degrees north of east. During May, Mercury will be getting further from the Earth. Even so it will brighten as it moves further round the Sun and becomes more fully lit. The planet´s altitude, as seen from Wellington 45 minutes before sunrise, will drop from 14 degrees on the 1st to 4 degrees on the 16th. So by about the latter date it is likely to be lost to view despite being at magnitude -0.9.

The planet is at superior conjunction on May 27 when it will be 198 million km from the Earth, 46 million km from the Sun. After conjunction it begins to move into the evening sky.

About the middle of May, Mercury will move past the asteroid Vesta, magnitude 8.3. The two will be moving on almost parallel paths, Mercury considerably faster than Vesta. They are closest, 3 degrees apart, on the 12th. On the 11th the two will be at about the same level, Mercury to the left of Vesta. A 4th magnitude star will be between them, just under 1 degree from asteroid. The following morning Mercury and Vesta will be closest, 3 degrees apart, with Mercury a little lower than Vesta and the star will be slightly higher. It may be possible to see Vesta in binoculars an hour before sunrise when the Sun is 12 degrees below the horizon.

Jupiter moves into the morning sky after conjunction with the Sun on May 13. It will be too low to see for most of the month. On the last morning of May Jupiter will rise one hour before the Sun. Half an hour before sunrise at the beginning of civil twilight, it will be 5 degrees up in a direction some 30 degrees to the north of east.


Uranus, magnitude 5.9, starts May in Pisces but crosses into a corner of Cetus on the 12th. At the beginning of the month it rises about 4.20 am and two hours earlier by the end of the month.

Neptune, magnitude 7.9, rises about 1.30 am on May 1 and before midnight by the end of the month. The planet is in Aquarius throughout May.

Brighter asteroids:

Both Ceres and Vesta emerge from the Sun into the morning sky during May, with Vesta leading by 6 to 7 degrees. At the beginning of the month Vesta is 12 degrees from the Sun, Ceres only 6. By the 31st the elongations will have increased to 27 degrees and 20 degrees respectively. The magnitude of Ceres will be about 9 while Vesta is 8.4. Both will be in Aries by the end of May.

No other asteroids are within reach of binoculars during May.

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

3. RASNZ Annual General Meeting

The 89th Annual General Meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand will be held on Saturday 16 June 2012 at the Carterton Events Centre, Carterton, beginning at the end of the conference proceedings for the day, about 4pm. Notices of motion are invited and should reach the Executive Secretary by 5 May 2012.

-- Rory O´Keeffe, Executive Secretary.

4. 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 www.starlight2012.org 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 a note by John Hearnshaw.

5. RASNZ Conference June 15-17

Well, less than two months to go until Conference and things are coming together nicely. And our grateful thanks to The Phoenix Astronomical Society and the Carterton Events Centre for the work they are putting into this.

A reminder that registrations need to be in by 15 May to avoid the late registration fee. So if you haven't yet registered please do so as soon as possible. Additional information re accommodation and transport is available on the registration form. And all the information you may need is on the Conference link on the RASNZ Webpage - www.rasnz.org.nz

Don't forget the Astronomy Outreach Workshop that will run day time Friday. This will appeal to anyone who is involved in public and/or educational astronomy outreach. You can register for this at the same time you register for the main conference.

At the time I write this there is still room for a few more papers. One thing I'd like some feedback on is whether we should include a Transit of Venus results session (or part session) in the programme. Conference is just over a week following the transit, and people may have some great stories and observations to share. So thoughts please.

I think most of what needs to be covered re Conference has appeared in recent newsletters, and of course lots of information is available on the RASNZ Webpage. But of anyone does have any queries please contact us - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - and we will be happy to assist. This is the main Conference for astronomers in NZ - amateur and professional. And the content of the programme should always reflect that - hopefully. There should be something for everyone.

As is now usual, we will be asking for feedback following Conference so we can strive to continually improve what we can offer. If there are any specific questions you would like us to solicit feedback from attendees on, please let us know as soon as possible.

In the meantime, however, please register as soon as possible. If you wish to give a paper/poster paper please submit this with some urgency, as the final deadline is fast approaching.

Look forward to seeing everyone in Carterton.

Dennis Goodman, Chair, RASNZ Standing Conference Committee

6. Astronomer´s Dream: Home & Astronomy Income

New large 4 bedroom house (150 square meters - plus double garage) with separate self-contained studio accommodation business. Private spa pool. Observatory: 4 meter (school sized) observatory on front lawn housing 15- inch Newtonian telescope. Parking for 3+ vehicles. Established gardens including a banana grove at the rear of the property. 5 minutes walk to beautiful Baylys beach in affordable sunny Northland. 2 km to golf course. 15 minutes to all the local amenities. Reluctantly selling due to a change in family circumstances and the need to relocate due to current family needs but would prefer not to have to dismantle the observatory and shut down the business. I would love to find someone else who could carry on the 'Astronomy Adventures' business. Please contact Deborah on 09 439 1856 or by e-mail for more details This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

For a video made in 2010 where Astronomy Adventures featured on Marcus Lush North check out: http://tvnz.co.nz/north/marcus-lush-goes-up-while-4009197 - episode 3 first ten minutes.

7. Venus Transit Photographers Sought

Jeff Baldwin of California seeks the cooperation of a NZ observer in obtaining the parallax of Venus from transit photography. Jeff writes: I am looking for somebody who will participate in photographing the transit at ten minute intervals as I will, after which we would exchange photographs. I teach an astronomy class, and this is an opportunity to measure the distance between the Earth and the Sun using the parallax shift observed in Venus´s position in front of the Sun by two observers on opposite sides of the Earth. I'm in California and there is a period of time in which the transit is visible to both of us, and we are nearly as stretched out on opposites as you can get.

For more information contact Jeff Baldwin This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

-- Rolf Carstens forwarded this request to the nzastronomers group.

8. Satellite Galaxies Threaten Dark Matter

Astronomers from the University of Bonn in Germany have discovered a vast structure of satellite galaxies and clusters of stars surrounding our galaxy, stretching out across a million light-years. The work challenges the existence of dark matter, part of the standard model for the evolution of the universe.

The Milky Way consists of around three hundred thousand million stars as well as large amounts of gas and dust arranged with arms in a flat disk that wind out from a central bar. The diameter of the main part of the Milky Way is about 100,000 light years. A number of smaller satellite galaxies and globular clusters orbit at various distances from the main Galaxy.

Conventional models for the origin and evolution of the universe are based on the presence of 'dark matter', invisible material thought to make up about 23% of the content of the cosmos that has never been detected directly. In this model, the Milky Way is predicted to have far more satellite galaxies than are actually seen.

In their effort to understand exactly what surrounds our galaxy, the Bonn scientists used a range of sources from twentieth century photographic plates to images from the robotic telescope of the Sloan Deep Sky Survey. Using all this data they assembled a picture that includes bright 'classical' satellite galaxies, more recently detected fainter satellites and the younger globular clusters.

The astronomers found that all the different objects are distributed in a plane at right angles to the galactic disk. The newly-discovered structure is huge, extending from as close as 33,000 light years to as far away as one million light years from the centre of the galaxy.

As the different companions move around the Milky Way, they lose material, stars and sometimes gas, which forms long streams along their paths. The new results show that this lost material is aligned with the plane of galaxies and clusters. This shows that the objects are not only situated within this plane right now, but that they move within it. The structure is stable.

The various dark matter models struggle to explain this arrangement. In the standard theories, the satellite galaxies would have formed as individual objects before being captured by the Milky Way. They would have come from many directions. So it is next to impossible for them to end up distributed in such a thin planar structure.

The team concluded that the satellite galaxies and clusters must have formed together in one major event, a collision of two galaxies. Such collisions are relatively common. They result in large chunks of galaxies being torn out due to gravitational and tidal forces. The forces act on the stars, gas and dust in the galaxies, forming tails that are the birthplaces of new objects like star clusters and dwarf galaxies.

The evidence indicates that the Milky Way collided with another galaxy in the distant past. The other galaxy lost part of its material, material that then formed our galaxy´s satellite galaxies, the younger globular clusters, and the bulge at the galactic centre. The companions we see today are the debris of this 11 billion year old collision.

The team assert that their model appears to rule out the presence of dark matter in the universe. This threatens a central pillar of current cosmological theory. They see this as the beginning of a paradigm shift, one that will ultimately lead us to a new understanding of the universe we inhabit.

The work appears in "The VPOS: a vast polar structure of satellite galaxies, globular clusters and streams around the Milky Way", M. S. Pawlowski, J. Pflamm-Altenburg, P. Kroupa, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, in press. Preprint of the paper: http://arxiv.org/abs/1204.5176

For image and movies see http://www.astro.uni-bonn.de/~mpawlow/pr2012.html. This animation is also available on YouTube at http://youtu.be/nUwxv-WGfHM.

-- From a Royal Astronomical Society [UK] press release forwarded by Karen Pollard.

--------------- For a view on dark matter's effect on the Milky Way see "Scientific American" October 2011, p.24.

9. Find Hubble's Best Pictures

Since 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope has made more than a million observations. Many of these are featured on spacetelescope.org, and the most stunning are in our Top 100 gallery at <http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/archive/top100/> and iPad app.

But there are thousands of pictures in Hubble´s science archive that have only been seen by a few scientists. We call these images Hubble´s hidden treasures - stunning images of astronomical phenomena that have never been seen and enjoyed by the public. Every week, we search the archive for hidden treasures, process the scientific data <http://www.spacetelescope.org/projects/hiddentreasures/imageprocessing/> into attractive images and publish them as the Hubble Picture of the Week <http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/potw/> . But the archive is so vast that nobody really knows the full extent of what Hubble has observed.

This is where you come in. Searching Hubble´s archive for hidden treasures is a lot of fun, and it's pretty straightforward, even if you don't have advanced knowledge. So we're inviting you to come and help us find iconic Hubble images that have never before been shown to the public. See <http://www.spacetelescope.org/projects/hiddentreasures/>

-- Thanks to Joan Gladwyn for passing this request along.

10. Yellow Supergiants Surveyed in LMC and M33

Stars live for a long time, with even the most massive stars having lifetimes measured in millions of years. But, for a mere few thousand years towards the end of their lives, some massive stars go through what astronomers call the yellow supergiant phase. This is remarkably short in astronomical terms, and, as a result, stars in this phase are incredibly rare. In a recent study, astronomers from Lowell Observatory have identified hundreds of these rare yellow supergiants, and their more long- lived descendants, the red supergiants in two neighbouring galaxies.

The Lowell astronomers use these newly identified populations to provide a stringent observational test for the theoretical models which describe how these stars change from blue, to yellow and then to red. These constraints are vital because the behaviour of the models in this phase can influence many theoretical predictions, including something as basic as what types of stars explode as supernovae.

Nearby red supergiant stars include such well-known stars as Betelgeuse, Antares, and Mu Cephei, and yellow supergiant stars include names like Canopus and Rho Cassiopeiae, although these stars were not included in the study.

Using telescopes in Chile and Arizona the astronomers have observed a relatively complete set of red and yellow supergiants in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) and M33. They compared their observations with computer models of stars derived by a group at Geneva Observatory, Switzerland. They found excellent agreement between their observed sample and theory in predicting the stellar lifetimes and general stellar properties during a critical period near the end of the stars' lifetimes. This is in contrast to studies from three years ago by the same teams that showed large discrepancies between yellow supergiant populations and a previous version of the Geneva evolutionary models.

These two studies were led by two young researchers at Lowell Observatory, Kathryn Neugent (lead for the LMC study) and Maria Drout (lead for the M33 study). Both involve an international collaboration with Dr. Georges Meynet (Geneva Observatory), one of the world¹s experts in stellar evolution theory.

To astronomers, the Hertzsprung-Russell (HR) diagram -- a plot of the intrinsic luminosity versus temperature of all stars -- is key to understanding the evolution of stars. For most of their lives stars are fueled by hydrogen in their cores. During this time they are constant in brightness and temperature. This is called the main sequence phase. It is well understood. However, there have been problems with understanding how the temperature and luminosity of a star rapidly changes as the core of the star is exhausted at the end of the stellar life. Understanding the late stages of stellar evolution is important for other questions, too. Yellow supergiants may be the progenitors of core-collapse supernovae, and understanding supernovae completely has important implications for cosmology.

Interpreting the HR diagram depends on mathematical models of a star's interior, which indicate how stars of different masses change with age. These models, based on knowledge of the physics of nuclear reaction rates, predict how a star of a given mass will change in temperature and luminosity over its lifetime. The models require careful comparison with actual observations.

Suppose curious aliens visited Earth and, from a quick schoolyard survey, noted that human weight and height increase with age. The aliens might propose a model for human growth in which weight and height increase smoothly with age, but this model would not allow for adolescent growth spurts or middle age. If they compared their model with further measurements of fast sprouting teenagers, they would be puzzled. This is akin to the problem astronomers have faced in understanding the red and yellow supergiants. Previous evolutional models predicted far too many yellow supergiants. Theoretical yellow supergiants seem to live much longer than the real stars in nature. This may resonate with those familiar with star names: it's easy to come up with examples of red supergiants like Betelgeuse. It is more difficult to think of examples of yellow supergiants. That's because yellow supergiant lifetimes are measured in only a few tens of thousands of years.

The Lowell group studied the supergiants in nearby galaxies, rather than our own Milky Way, to avoid the problems of identifying and characterizing stars at different distances. First, they selected stars based on their colours and angular motion across the sky. Then they looked at their spectra. The spectra show a star's radial velocity: motion towards or away from us. This is key to deciding which stars are actually foreground red and yellow stars in our own Milky Way galaxy masquerading as red supergiants in these other galaxies.

Published version of the LMC paper: ttp://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1202.4225 Preprint of the M33 paper accepted for publication: http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1203.0247 Text & Images: http://www.noao.edu/news/2012/pr1201.php

-- from a National Optical Astronomy Observatory press release forwarded by Karen Pollard.

11. Solar 'Climate Change' Could Cause Rougher Space Weather

Recent research shows that the space age has coincided with a period of unusually high solar activity, called a grand maximum. Isotopes in ice sheets and tree rings tell us that this grand solar maximum is one of 24 during the last 9,300 years and suggest the high levels of solar magnetic field seen over the space age will reduce in future. This decline will cause a reduction in sunspot numbers and explosive solar events, but those events that do take place could be more damaging. Graduate student Luke Barnard of the University of Reading will present new results on 'solar climate change' in his paper at the National Astronomy Meeting in Manchester.

The level of radiation in the space environment is of great interest to scientists and engineers as it poses various threats to man-made systems including damage to electronics on satellites. It can also be a health hazard to astronauts and to a lesser extent the crew of high-altitude aircraft.

The main sources of radiation are galactic cosmic rays (GCRs), which are a continuous flow of highly energetic particles from outside our solar system and solar energetic particles (SEPs), which are accelerated to high energies in short bursts by explosive events on the Sun. The amount of radiation in the near-Earth environment from these two sources is partly controlled in a complicated way by the strength of the Sun's magnetic field.

There are theoretical predictions supported by observational evidence that a decline in the average strength of the Sun's magnetic field would lead to an increase in the amount of GCRs reaching near-Earth space. Furthermore there are predictions that, although a decline in solar activity would mean less frequent bursts of SEPs, the bursts that do occur would be larger and more harmful.

Currently spacecraft and aircraft are only designed and operated to offer suitable protection from the levels of radiation that have been observed over the course of the space age. A decline in solar activity would result in increased amounts of radiation in near-Earth space and therefore increased risk of harm to spacecraft and aircraft and the astronauts and aircraft crews that operate them.

By comparing this grand maximum with 24 previous examples, Mr. Barnard predicts that there is an 8% chance that solar activity will fall to the very low levels seen in the so-called 'Maunder minimum', a period during the seventeenth century when very few sunspots were seen. In this instance, the flux of GCRs would probably increase by a factor of 2.5 from present day values and the probability of observing a large SEP event will fall from the presently seen 5 down to 2 events per century.

However, the more probable scenario is that solar activity will decline to approximately half its current value in the next 40 years, in which case the flux of GCRs will increase by a factor of 1.5 and the probability of large SEP events to increase from the current value to 8 events per century. As a result the near-Earth space radiation environment will probably become more hazardous in the next 40 years.

In presenting his results, Mr. Barnard comments: "Radiation in space can be a serious issue for both people and the delicate electronic systems that society depends on. Our research shows that this problem is likely to get worse over the coming decades -- and that engineers will need to work even harder to mitigate its impact." For text and images see http://www.jodrellbank.manchester.ac.uk/meetings/nam2012/pressreleases/nam12.html -- from a Royal Astronomical Society [UK] press release forwarded by Karen Pollard.

12. Earth's Minimoons

Earth usually has more than one moon, according to a team of astronomers from the University of Helsinki, the Paris Observatory and the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Our 3000 km-diameter Moon has been orbiting Earth for over 4 billion years. Its much smaller cousins, dubbed 'minimoons' are thought to be only a few feet across and to usually orbit our planet for less than a year before resuming their previous lives as asteroids orbiting the Sun.

The team calculated the probability that at any given time Earth has more than one moon. They used a supercomputer to simulate the passage of 10 million asteroids past Earth. They then tracked the trajectories of the 18,000 objects that were captured by Earth's gravity. They concluded that at any given time there should be at least one asteroid with a diameter of at least one meter orbiting Earth. Of course, there may also be many smaller objects orbiting Earth, too.

According to the simulation, most asteroids that are captured by Earth's gravity would not orbit Earth in neat circles. Instead, they would follow complicated, twisting paths. This is because a minimoon would not be tightly held by Earth's gravity, so it would be tugged into a crazy path by the combined gravity of Earth, the Moon and the Sun. A minimoon would remain captured by Earth until one of those tugs breaks the pull of Earth's gravity, and the Sun once again takes control of the object¹s trajectory. While the typical minimoon would orbit Earth for about nine months, some of them could orbit our planet for decades.

In 2006, the University of Arizona's Catalina Sky Survey discovered a minimoon about the size of a car. Designated 2006 RH120, it orbited Earth for less than a year after its discovery, then resumed orbiting the Sun.

The team's paper, "The population of natural Earth satellites" appears in the March issue of the journal Icarus.

-- From a University of Hawaii Institute of Astronomy press release forwarded by Karen Pollard.

13. 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..

14. 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

15. 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

16. Here and There

 

MOST UNUSUAL The geology around Svalbard and Spitzbergen is most unusual. It has fossil evidence of trees that lived 300,000 million years ago. -- Exodus Travels, advertising brochure, 2011 April, p. 11.

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