RASNZ Electronic Newsletter April 2017

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. The latest issue is below.

Email Newsletter Number 196

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.


1. A Habitable Super-Earth?
2. RASNZ Conference Paper Submissions
3. Harry Williams Astrophotography Competition
4. The Solar System in May
5. Comet C/2015 ER61 (PANSTARRS) Flaring
6. Variable Star News
7. Atmosphere Detected Around Super-Earth
8. Escapee from Stellar Break-up Found
9. Jupiter Close-up from Hubble
10. Cassini's 'Grand Finale'
11. NASA Image and Video Archive
12. NASA Surveys Space-borne Laser Danger
13. How to Join the RASNZ
14. Gifford-Eiby Lecture Fund
15. Kingdon-Tomlinson Fund

1. A Habitable Super-Earth?

An exoplanet orbiting a red dwarf star 40 light-years from Earth May be the new holder of the title "best place to look for signs of life beyond the Solar System". Using several telescopes around the world, an international team of astronomers discovered a "super-Earth" orbiting in the habitable zone around the faint star LHS 1140. This world is a little larger and much more massive than the Earth and has likely retained most of its atmosphere. This, along with the fact that it passes in front of its parent stars as it orbits, makes it one of the most exciting future targets for atmospheric studies. The results appear in the 20 April 2017 issue of the journal Nature.

The newly discovered super-Earth LHS 1140b orbits in the habitable zone around a faint red dwarf star, named LHS 1140, in the constellation of Cetus. Red dwarfs are much smaller and cooler than the Sun. So, although LHS 1140b's distance from its star is one-tenth Earth's distance from the Sun, it receives only about half as much sunlight from its star as Earth gets from the Sun. This puts LHS 1140b in the middle of the habitable zone, where liquid water can exist. The orbit is seen almost edge-on from Earth so the exoplanet passes in front of the star every 25 days, dimming it slightly.

The astronomers estimate the age of the planet to be at least five billion years. They also deduced that it has a diameter 1.4 times larger than the Earth - almost 18 000 kilometres. But with a mass around seven times greater than the Earth, and hence a much higher density, it implies that the exoplanet is probably made of rock with a dense iron core.

For life as we know it to exist, a planet must have liquid surface water and retain an atmosphere. When red dwarf stars are young, they are known to emit radiation that can be damaging for the atmospheres of the planets that orbit them. In this case, the planet's large size means that a magma ocean could have existed on its surface for millions of years. This seething ocean of lava could feed steam into the atmosphere long after the star has calmed to its current, steady glow, replenishing the planet with water.

This super-Earth May be the best candidate yet for future observations to study and characterise its atmosphere, if one exists. In particular, observations coming up soon with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope will be able to assess exactly how much high-energy radiation is showered upon LHS 1140b, so that its capacity to support life can be further constrained. Further into the future - when new telescopes like European Southern Observatory's Extremely Large Telescope are operating - it is likely that we will be able to make detailed observations of the atmospheres of exoplanets, and LHS 1140b is an exceptional candidate for such studies.

See the Nature letter at https://www.eso.org/public/archives/releases/sciencepapers/eso1712/eso1712a.pdf

-- From a European Southern Observatory press release eso1712 forwarded by Karen Pollard.

2. RASNZ Conference Paper Submissions

As you will know, the next conference of the Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand (RASNZ) will be held in Dunedin over the weekend of 12th -14th May 2017.

The oral programme for the conference is now full, but we can still accept poster papers. If you want your poster to appear in the printed programme please use the submission form on the RASNZ Conference website www.rasnz.org.nz/Conference, or email titles/abstracts to me directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. before April 30th. A full list of accepted titles and abstracts is being maintained on the RASNZ Conference website.

TTSO11 paper submissions

Following the conference, the 11th Trans-Tasman Symposium on Occultations (TTSO11) will be held at the conference venue on Monday/Tuesday 15th - 16th May. Details of the registration for TTSO11 are available with the registration form for the conference, and paper submissions should be sent directly to the convenor Murray Forbes (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). As workshops will be held on analysing and reporting your results, please bring along a laptop with your occultation programs and any recordings you'd like us to analyse with you. -- Warwick Kissling and Murray Forbes, RASNZ Standing Conference Committee.

3. Harry Williams Astrophotography Competition

Calling all astrophotographers. The 2017 Harry Williams Astrophotography Competition is now open for entries.

This year our judge is world-renowned planetary photographer Damian Peach. In 2010 Damian became the only Briton to win the prestigious Astronomy Photographer of the Year Award for his composite photograph of Jupiter's moons, Ganymede and Io, orbiting the stormy surface of the Gas Giant.

Damian is arguably the world's most well-known planetary photographer, his high resolution images of the planets have been compared in quality to the kind of images captured by orbiting spacecraft! So we are truly lucky to have Damian on board as our judge for this year's competition.

As in previous years we are lucky to have Australian Sky & Telescope on board as sponsors of both the Solar System category and the Miscellaneous / Artistic category, the winners of these categories will receive a one year subscription to the magazine as well as the usual cash prize. Also the winner of the Newcomers contest will receive a signed copy of 'Imaging the Southern Sky' by Stephen Chadwick & Ian Cooper. More sponsors to be announced soon.

The competition cut-off date is the 31st of August and the competition awards will be announced at the annual Burbidge Dinner which is the Auckland Astronomical Society's premier annual event, keep an eye out on the society website for details on the forthcoming Burbidge dinner.

The competition rules and entry forms can be found on the Auckland Astronomical Society website http://www.astronomy.org.nz/new/public/default.aspx

I'm looking forward to seeing all your images and wishing you all clear skies.

--From Jonathan Green's posting to the nzastronomers Yahoo group.

4. The Solar System in May

Dates and times shown are NZST (UT + 12 hours) unless otherwise stated.

Sunrise, sunset and twilight times in may

        Times are for Wellington.  They will vary by a few minutes elsewhere in 
                   May  1  NZST                    May 30  NZST
       SUN: rise: 7.05am,  set: 5.30pm     rise: 7.33am, set:  5.03pm 
Twilights     morning       evening            morning       evening
Civil:    starts: 6.39am, ends: 5.56pm   starts: 7.05am, ends: 5.31pm
Nautical: starts: 6.06am, ends: 6.29pm   starts: 6.31am, ends: 6.08pm
Astro:    starts: 5.34am, ends: 7.01pm   starts: 5.58am, ends: 6.39pm

May PHASES OF THE MOON (times NZST, as shown by GUIDE)

          First quarter: May  3 at  2.47 pm (2:47 UT)
  Full moon:     May 11 at  9.43 am (May 10, 21:43 UT)
  Last quarter   May 19 at 12.33 pm (00:33 UT)
  New moon:      May 26 at  7.45 am (May 25, 19:45 UT)

Occultation Of Regulus

A lunar occultation of Regulus on May 4 is visible from New Zealand and Australia. The disappearance is at the ?dark? limb of the moon so readily observable in binoculars. It will be just before sunset at Perth in Western Australia but should be observable there. Elsewhere, further east, the occultation will be after the Sun has set.

The reappearance from occultation will be at the sunlit limb of the moon, making it a little more difficult to observe and time accurately.

Disappearance times in New Zealand range from 10.40 pm in the southwest to 10.53 pm at East Cape. The corresponding range of reappearance times is 11.47 pm to 11.58 pm. Observers should generate their local predictions using Dave herald?s Occult program to obtain precise time predictions for their own locality.

The planets in may 2017

Jupiter will be prominent in the evening sky with Saturn appearing later to the east. Mars is getting too close to the Sun for easy observation. Mercury will be at its morning sky best for the year in the 2nd part of the month, well placed an hour before sunrise. It will very much outshone by Venus some way above it.

MERCURY, in the morning sky, rises 90 minutes before the Sun on May 1 and nearly 2 hours earlier than the Sun at the end of the month. With a low altitude and a magnitude 2.4 the planet will not be readily observable at the beginning of May.

Things rapidly improve during the first half of May as Mercury brightens and moves further from the Sun. The planet reaches its greatest elongation, 26° west of the Sun mid month. On the morning of May 18 at 6.20 am, hour before sunrise at Wellington, Mercury will be nearly 13° above the horizon with a magnitude 0.4. Venus will be some 19° above and a little to the left of the fainter planet. The middle of May will give the best opportunity to observe Mercury in the morning sky this year. By the end of May the planet will be brighter at magnitude -0.3 but getting little lower.

Mercury stars May in Pisces, it crosses a corner of Cetus between May 19 and 22 before entering Aries. On the morning of May 24 a thin crescent moon will be 3.5° above Mercury

VENUS is an easy to find morning object in May. It rises over 3 hours before the Sun on the 1st increasing to almost 4 hours earlier by the 31st. Venus is following Mercury across Pisces and ends May quite close to the position in the stars that Mercury was in at the beginning of the month.

On the morning of the 23rd the crescent moon will be about 3.5° to the lower right of Venus. On 31st, Venus will also be 3.5° above Uranus, so the two will be visible in a 5° binocular field.

MARS slowly gets lower in the early evening sky. At magnitude 1.6 to 1.7 and a low altitude it will be a difficult object in the twilight. It sets 75 minutes after the Sun on the 1st, an hour after the Sun on the 31st.

On the evening of the 27th a very thin crescent moon will be about 4.5° above Mars. But at 5.45 pm when the Sun is only 8° below the horizon, Mars? altitude at Wellington will be slightly less than 4°

JUPITER will be a prominent object throughout the evening sky following its opposition at the beginning of April. Early evening in May will find the planet just under 10° to the left of the first magnitude star Spica, alpha Virginis. Some 8 hours later the anticlockwise rotation of the sky will bring Spica to a position directly above Jupiter.

The nearly full moon will be 5° to the lower right of Jupiter on May 8.

SATURN will rise at 8 pm on the 1st of May and a good 2 hours earlier by the 31st. It brightens slightly during the month from 0.3 to 0.1 making it the brightest object to the east. There are a number of the brighter, 2nd magnitude stars in Sagittarius some 10 to 20° to its Saturn?s left.

The planet itself starts the month in Sagittarius. It moves only slowly to the west through the stars, less than 2° during the month. Even so this is sufficient to take it into Ophiuchus mid month.

Currently Saturn is 22° south of the equator. As a result when due north it will be very high in NZ skies. This will be about 3.30 am early May, advancing to 1.30 late May.

The moon, a little past full, will be some 7° from Saturn on the evenings of May 13 and 14. The position of the moon with reference to Saturn on the two night will be very different. Moon and planet are closest about 10 am on the morning while they are below the horizon for NZ.

Outer Planets

URANUS begins to move up into the morning sky shortly before sunrise, following its conjunction with the Sun mid April. At the beginning of May Uranus will be close to Mercury but too low for easy observation. At the end of May a much brighter marker, Venus, will be 3° above the outer planet. By then Uranus will rise just before 4 am, with Venus rising 15 minutes earlier. So at 6.30 am, an hour before sunrise, the two will be at a comfortable 25° altitude.

NEPTUNE rises early into the morning sky, soon after 2am on May 1 and 2 hours earlier on May 31. The planet remains in Aquarius at magnitude

7.9, moving only half a degree during the month. On the 1st it will be
18.5° above and a little left of Venus.

PLUTO, magnitude 14.4, is moving into the evening sky rising at 9.40 pm on the 1st, 2 hours earlier on the 31st. It will remain in Sagittarius about 2.5° from the 2.9 magnitude star pi Sgr.

Minor Planets

(1) CERES, in Taurus is too close to the Sun to observe in May. It is at conjunction early June.

(4) VESTA is in Cancer during May with a magnitude changing from 8.0 to 8.2. On the 1st it sets about 10.20pm. By the 31st it will be setting about an hour earlier. The moon will be just over 6° above Vesta in May 2. It will be in a similar position again, compared to Vesta, on the 30th but about half a degree closer.

-- Brian Loader

5. Comet C/2015 ER61 (PANSTARRS) Flaring

This long-period comet has brightened unexpectedly to total magnitude 6, bright enough to see in binoculars. It is low in the eastern dawn sky. Below are positions for the next 20 days. No magnitude predictions are included but the comet May stay around 6-7th magnitude for the duration.

Positions at 5 a.m NZST for April-May dates
    R.A. (2000) Dec.          R.A. (2000) Dec. 
     h  m  s    °  '           h  m  s     °  '
21  22 07 40  -07 12       1  22 54 26  -01 58 
22  22 12 28  -06 41       2  22 58 56  -01 27 
23  22 17 15  -06 09       3  23 03 25  -00 56 
24  22 22 00  -05 38       4  23 07 51  -00 25 
25  22 26 44  -05 06       5  23 12 15  +00 05 
26  22 31 25  -04 35       6  23 16 38  +00 36 
27  22 36 05  -04 03       7  23 20 58  +01 05 
28  22 40 43  -03 31       8  23 25 16  +01 35 
29  22 45 19  -03 00       9  23 29 32  +02 05 
30  22 49 54  -02 29      10  23 33 46  +02 34

6. Variable Star News

The American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) maintains an International Variable Star Index (VSX). Ever wondered how stars make it into this catalogue? The latest AAVSO Newsletter (No 72, 2017 April) has an article on identifying a new variable star and submission to the AAVSO for addition to the VSX. This is an updated Policy Document and gives detailed advice on the work required, and information recommended, to smooth the way to acceptance of your submission. AAVSO Quarterly Newsletter address https://www.aavso.org/aavso-newsletter

7. Atmosphere Detected Around Super-Earth

Astronomers have detected an atmosphere around the super-Earth GJ 1132b, the first detection of an atmosphere around a low-mass super- Earth. In terms of radius and mass GJ 1132b is the most Earth-like planet around which an atmosphere has yet been detected. It has mass 1.6 times Earth's mass and a diameter of 1.4 Earth's. It orbits the red dwarf star GJ 1132 in the southern constellation Vela, 39 light-years from us.

GJ 1132b is a transiting planet. As seen from Earth, it passes directly in front of its star every 1.6 days, blocking some of the star's light. These transits were observed in seven different wavelength bands simultaneously with a 2.2-metre telescope at the European Southern Observatory in Chile. The size of stars like GJ 1132 is well known from stellar models. From the fraction of starlight blocked by the planet, astronomers can deduce the planet's size. Crucially, the new observations showed the planet to be larger at one of the infrared wavelengths than at the others. This suggests the presence of an atmosphere that is opaque to this specific infrared light, making the planet appear larger, but transparent at all the others. Different possible versions of the atmosphere were then simulated by team members at the University of Cambridge and the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy. According to those models, an atmosphere rich in water and methane would explain the observations very well.

Astronomers' current strategy for finding life on another planet is to detect the chemical composition of that planet's atmosphere then check for certain chemical imbalances that require the presence of living organisms for an explanation. In the case of our own Earth, the presence of large amounts of oxygen is such a trace.

The discovery comes with the usual exoplanet caveats: while somewhat larger than Earth, and with 1.6 times Earth's mass (as determined by earlier measurements), observations to date do not provide sufficient data to decide how similar or dissimilar GJ 1132b is to Earth. Possibilities include a "water world" with an atmosphere of hot steam.

The presence of the atmosphere is a reason for cautious optimism. M dwarfs are the most common types of star. They show high levels of activity like flares and particle streams. In some cases this activity is expected to blow away nearby planets' atmospheres. GJ 1132b provides a hopeful counterexample of an atmosphere that has endured for billions of years (that is, long enough for us to detect it). Given the great number of M dwarf stars, such atmospheres could mean that the preconditions for life are quite common in the universe.

In any case, the new observations make GJ 1132b a high-priority target for further study by instruments such as the Hubble Space Telescope, ESO's Very Large Telescope, and the James Webb Space Telescope slated for launch in 2018.

For the original text and images see http://www.mpia.de/news/science/2017-03-GJ1132b

-- From a Max Planck Institute for Astronomy press release forwarded by Karen Pollard.

8. Escapee from Stellar Break-up Found

In the search for rogue planets and failed stars astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have created a new mosaic image of the Orion Nebula. During their survey of this famous star formation region, they found what May be the missing piece of a cosmic puzzle; the third, long-lost member of a star system that had broken apart.

The Orion Nebula is the closest star formation region to Earth, only 1400 light-years away. It is a turbulent place ? stars are being born, planetary systems are forming and the radiation unleashed by young massive stars is carving cavities in the nebula and disrupting the growth of smaller, nearby stars.

Because of this ongoing turmoil, Hubble has observed the nebula many times to study the various intriguing processes going on there. The latest survey produced a large composite image of the nebula?s central region, combining visual and near-infrared data.

Astronomers used the new infrared data to hunt for rogue planets ? free-floating in space without a parent star ? and brown dwarfs in the nebula. The infrared capabilities of Hubble also allow it to peer through the swirling clouds of dust and gas and see hidden stars. The unveiled stars are bright red in the final image.

By comparing observations made in 1998 with the recent ones astronomers found a star moving at an unusually high speed ? about 200 000 kilometres per hour. That's almost 30 times the speed of most of the nebula?s stellar inhabitants. This star could be the missing piece of the puzzle of a star system that had been broken apart 540 years ago.

Astronomers already knew about two other runaway stars in the Orion Nebula which were most likely once part of a now-defunct multiple-star system. For years it was suspected that the original system contained more than just these two stars. Now Hubble May have found the missing third piece of this cosmic puzzle.

Whether the new star is indeed the missing ? and the last ? piece of the puzzle will require further observations. So will the answer to the question of why the original star system broke apart in the first place. While there are several theories ? interactions with other, nearby stellar groups, or two of the stars getting too close to each other ? none can be ruled out or confirmed yet.

For the original text and images see http://hubblesite.org/news_release/news/2017-11

-- From a Space Telescope press release forwarded by Karen Pollard.

9. Jupiter Close-up from Hubble

During April 2017 Jupiter is in opposition: it is at its closest to Earth and the hemisphere facing Earth is fully illuminated by the Sun. On April 7 Jupiter was 670 million kilometres so that it appears brighter in the night sky than at any other time in the year. This event allows astronomers using telescopes in space and on the ground to see more detail in the planet's atmosphere.

On 3 April Hubble took advantage of this favourable alignment and turned its sharp eye towards Jupiter to add to the collection of images of our massive neighbour. Hubble observed Jupiter using its Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3), which allows observations in ultraviolet, visible and infrared light. The final image shows a sharp view of Jupiter and reveals a wealth of features in its dense atmosphere. As it is so close, Hubble can resolve features as small as about 130 kilometres across. [That's about 0.04 second of arc! - Ed.]

The surface of Jupiter is divided into several distinct, colourful bands, running parallel to the equator. These bands are created by differences in the opacity of the clouds which have varying quantities of frozen ammonia in them; the lighter bands have higher concentrations than the darker bands. The differing concentrations are kept separate by fast winds which can reach speeds of up to 650 kilometres per hour. The most recognisable feature on Jupiter is the huge anticyclonic storm, called the Great Red Spot ? this storm is large enough to engulf a whole Earth-sized planet at once. However, as with the last images of Jupiter taken by Hubble and telescopes on the ground, this new image confirms that the huge storm which has raged on Jupiter?s surface for at least 150 years continues to shrink. The reason for this is still unknown. So Hubble will continue to observe Jupiter in the hope that scientists will solve this stormy riddle.

Next to the famous Great Red Spot a much smaller storm can be seen at farther southern latitudes. Because of its similar appearance but much smaller size it was dubbed ?Red Spot Junior?.

The observations of Jupiter form part of the Outer Planet Atmospheres Legacy (OPAL) programme, which allows Hubble to dedicate time each year to observing the outer planets. This way scientists have access to a collection of maps, which helps them to understand not only the atmospheres of the giant planets in the Solar System, but also the atmospheres of our own planet and of the planets that are being discovered around other stars. The programme began in 2014 with Uranus, and has been studying Jupiter and Neptune since 2015. In 2018, it will begin viewing Saturn.

For the original text and image links see http://hubblesite.org/news_release/news/2017-15

-- From a NASA/ESA press release forwarded by Karen Pollard.

10. Cassini's 'Grand Finale'

On April 4 NASA held a news conference at the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena to preview the beginning of Cassini's final mission segment, known as the Grand Finale, which begins in late April.

Cassini has been orbiting Saturn since June 2004, studying the planet, its rings and its moons. A final close flyby of Saturn's moon Titan on April 22 will reshape the Cassini spacecraft's orbit so that it begins its final series of 22 weekly dives through the unexplored gap between the planet and its rings. The first of these dives is planned for April 26. Following these closer-than-ever encounters with the giant planet, Cassini will make a mission-ending plunge into Saturn's upper atmosphere on Sept. 15.

For graphics, video and background information about Cassini's Grand Finale see http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/grandfinale

-- From a NASA JPL press release forwarded by Karen Pollard

11. NASA Image and Video Archive

In a win for space enthusiasts and history buffs alike, NASA unveiled a new, searchable image and video archive on Tuesday, showcasing 140,000 images. (More: Haunting Photos of Abandoned NASA Sites) The new library consolidates over 60 collections previously featured, spanning the agency's founding in 1958 to the most recent images from space. "The library is not comprehensive, but rather provides the best of what NASA makes publicly available from a single point of presence on the web," NASA officials said.

Space-lovers should stay tuned as the library will continue to grow. Click through the slideshow above for some of NASA's most popular images. Link given goes to https://images.nasa.gov/#/

-- From Spaceweather 31 March https://weather.com/photos/news/nasa-releases-new-image-video-libraryforwarded by Alan Baldwin.

12. NASA Surveys Space-borne Laser Danger

Maurice Collins points out that NASA is doing a survey of telescope usage amid concerns about space-borne lasers that look downward. The survey us at https://goo.gl/forms/E7n4Xrvp3oQqmCYn1

This note is from the end of the survey: Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to this survey! We're conducting this survey as part of a probabilistic risk assessment of the potential hazards presented to the general public by spaceborne lidar systems. NASA and its partners (including CNES and ESA) use lidar on satellites to make measurements of Earth's surface and atmosphere. Examples include CALIPSO, CATS, ALADIN, and GLAS. Lidar works on the same time-of-flight principle as radar, but using a laser instead of a beam of radio radiation.

The lidar lasers on satellites greatly exceed eye safety standards for observers on the ground for direct, unaided viewing of the laser beam. But, with sufficiently powerful light-collecting optics, it would, in theory, be possible to exceed the retinal damage threshold. So please, NEVER LOOK DIRECTLY INTO A LASER WITH YOUR EYE. We really don?t want to injure anyone! To that end, we're attempting to calculate the odds of one of these lasers causing injury to make sure the risk has been mitigated to an acceptably low level (e.g. lower than the odds of being injured by a piece of orbital debris from the satellite itself when it reenters Earth?s atmosphere someday, which is another risk we must calculate and mitigate to internationally-agreed-upon acceptably low levels).

We?ve so far done our best to model the problem, but many of our input parameters are only educated guesses. For instance, while we can calculate the energy per area that would result from standing in the laser footprint and viewing the beam through a given size and type of telescope, we don?t know how many such telescopes are in use at any given time. Larger telescopes carry a higher risk of injury, but we suspect larger telescopes are less common since they cost more. And if someone is doing all-night observations, we suspect it?s more likely that they?re using a sensor/camera rather than their eye, e.g. for recording star trails or doing long exposures of faint objects.

The particular orbital parameters of our various satellites also affect our modeling. A laser on the ISS has a non-repeating ground track that paints the mid-latitudes but never the polar latitudes and can pass overhead at different times of night. The A-Train constellation of satellites, on the other hand, has a repeating ground track, flies in a solar-synchronous orbit, so it paints all latitudes and always passes overhead at approximately the same time of night. So, the odds of injuring someone depend on things like the percentage of people still out observing at 2 am and whether active astronomers are distributed by latitude in proportion to the overall population.

If you decide this is a phenomenon you want to see for yourself, be sure to make your attempt using a camera rather than your eye; if you are successful, not only will you avoid the risk of retinal damage by using a camera, you'll also have an image to prove you saw the laser flash. A picture is much more convincing than, "Hey guys! I saw a flash of light from space!" And if you're feeling generous, we'd love it if you'd share your images with us. See contact information below.

Definition of Acronyms and Links to More Information: Image of lidar pulse captured by Gregg Hendry of Ball Aerospace https://www.nasa.gov/larc/calipso-laser-flashhttps://www.facebook.com/nasalarc/photos/a.115596668486660.6213.115589531820707/823964850983168/ CNES: Centre National d'Études Spatiales (the French government space agency) ESA: European Space Agency Heavens Above website for finding satellite trajectories: http://www.heavens-above.com/Satellites.aspx CALIPSO: Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation. CALIPSO website: https://www-calipso.larc.nasa.gov/ CATS: Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (onboard the International Space Station, ISS) CATS website: https://cats.gsfc.nasa.gov/ ALADIN: Atmospheric LAser Doppler INstrument. Planned launch on the ESA's ADM (Atmospheric Dynamics Mission) Aeolus satellite in late 2017. ALADIN website: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Observing_the_Earth/The_Living_Planet_Programme/Earth_Explorers/ADM-Aeolus/Payload GLAS: Geoscience Laser Altimeter System. GLAS was aboard ICESat (Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite), which launched in 2003 and rentered Earth's atmosphere in 2010. GLAS website: https://attic.gsfc.nasa.gov/glas/

13. How to Join the RASNZ

RASNZ membership is open to all individuals with an interest in astronomy in New Zealand. Information about the society and its objects can be found at http://rasnz.org.nz/rasnz/membership-benefits A membership form can be either obtained from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by completing the online application form found at http://rasnz.org.nz/rasnz/membership-application Basic membership for the 2016 year starts at $40 for an ordinary member, which includes an electronic subscription to our journal 'Southern Stars'.

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., Nichola van der Aa, 32A Louvain Street, Whakatane 3120.

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. Applications are now invited for grants from the Kingdon-Tomlinson Fund. The application should reach the Secretary by 1 May 2017. There will be a secondary round of applications later in the year. 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. Nichola van der Aa, 32A Louvain Street, Whakatane 3120.


"Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some hire public relations officers." -- Daniel Boorstin.

"If God had intended us to fly he would have made it easier to get to the airport.? - Jonathan Winters

"That which has always been accepted by everyone, everywhere, is almost certain to be false." -- Paul Valery.

"You can?t have everything?where would you put it?" ?- Steven Wright.

"Much of the social history of the Western world over the past three decades has involved replacing what worked with what sounded good. -- Thomas Sowell.

"After one look at this planet any visitor from outer space would say 'I want to see the manager'" -- William S. Burroughs.

"I think the world is run by 'C' students." -- Al McGuire.

"The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think." -- Horace Walpole.

"To err is human -- and to blame it on a computer even more so." -- Robert Orben.

Newsletter editor:

Alan Gilmore Phone: 03 680 6817
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