Groups and Sections

The sections and groups of the RASNZ cater for people with similar observing or other astronomy related interests. For further information about a particular section please contact the director of the section at the addresses given below.

Astrophotography Section

Director: Amit Kamble

Email to Astrophotgraphy Section

The formation of the section reflects the large increase in interest in astronomical imaging which has developed recently and is open to all who have an interest in this field.

Anyone interested in joining the section should contact the director by Email or by post for further information.

Comet and Meteor Section

Director: John Drummond

PO Box 113

Patutahi 4045

Email to Comet and Meteor Section

Historical Section

Director: Professor Wayne Orchiston

Deputy Director: Glen Rowe


RASNZ’s Historical Section promotes the study of the history of astronomy in Aotearoa / New Zealand, and the work of notable expatriate New Zealand astronomers.  Collaborative research projects are encouraged, with results being published in Southern Stars, or leading international journals specialising in science-related histories, and presented at RASNZ conferences.

Membership of the Section is open to anyone - you do not need to be a member of the RASNZ.  Anyone with an interest in astronomical history is welcome to contact the Director by email.

RASNZ Dark Sky Group

Contact: Mr Steve Butler

Email: Steve Butler

RASNZ is actively involved promoting efficient night lighting to preserve dark skies. At the beginning of 2005 it became a signatory to the NZ Urban Design Protocol to promote the efficient and effective use of lighting and to assist in the recovery and preservation of the urban view of the night sky.

Steve Butler has developed a set of web site pages as part of the RASNZ site. Those interested in preserving our dark skies should visit the RASNZ dark sky site. The site is still undergoing development, so regular additions and changes are likely.

Occultation Section

Director: Steve Kerr

P O Box 2241,


New Zealand

Email Occultation Section Director

Web site: Occultation Section

The RASNZ Occultation Section exists to promote occultation observing within New Zealand, Australia and the South Pacific.

Details of recent successful observations of occultations of stars by Minor Planets.

Lunar occultations occur when the Moon passes in front of stars or planets; planetary occultations occur when planets or minor planets (asteroids) pass in front of stars. Timing the instant at which an occultation occurs provides important information about the position of objects in space. In the case of minor planet occultations, it provides the only direct means of measuring an asteroid's diameter.

The Section provides general information and assistance to new observers. It publishes quarterly News Circulars, and a series of Circulars containing predictions of minor planet occultations. Membership of the Section is open to anyone - you do not need to be a member of the RASNZ. For further information contact the Director.

Professional Astronomers Group

The Professional Astronomers Group was set up at the RASNZ Annual General Meeting held at Dunedin in May 2011. The principal guidelines and operating protocols of PAG are shown below. The full guidelines and protocols are available for download as a Word document.

Any professional astronomer interested in joining the PAG should contact the chairperson, Dr Nicholas Rattenbury

Space Weather Section

Director: Vaughn Malkin

Email: Vaughn Malkin

Web site: Space Weather Section

The Section exists to help educate people about the Aurora Australis, our Sun and its effects on Earths atmosphere (Space Weather).

Space Weather Prediction is how we monitor our Sun and how it effects the atmosphere through its solar winds, and resulting Aurora displays, whether it be an Aurora Australis in the Southern Hemisphere, or an Aurora Borealis in the Northern Hemisphere.

On the sections webpage you can find a number of links to live Space Weather Prediction data, from all over the world, including right here in New Zealand.

The section also has a public Facebook page where I update current alerts, and potential activity, along with solar observations, links of interest and other aurora related research.

Variable Stars South

Director: Mark Blackford (

Website: Variable Stars South

The Variable Star Section, as it was formerly known, was founded by the late Dr Frank Bateson, OBE, in 1927 and became the recognised centre for southern variable star research. Now under new direction, it is expanding vigorously into the newer technologies of CCD and DSLR cameras, even spectroscopy.

VSS invites astronomers who would like to pursue variable star research to join VSS (see website) and take part in our research projects. You do not have to be a member of the RASNZ to join VSS. We are entirely an Internet-based group, in order to foster an international presence. If you have a telescope, or binoculars, or just a naked eye, there is variable star research waiting to be done, and VSS will assist you to learn the techniques and produce scientifically valuable results.

Astrobiology Group - This group is currenty in abeyance.

The Astrobiology Group is currently in abeyance. If you are interested in re-establishing this group please contact the RASNZ secretary ( in the first instance. The group's mission statement is retained below for your reference.

The Astrobiology Group of the RASNZ has been formed to encourage, help, collect and publish astrobiology research from New Zealand.

Astrobiology, is the study of life’s potential in the Universe. It also studies the origin, evolution and history of life on Earth. Astrobiology is a topical subject, innovative and interdisciplinary.

Astrobiology unites physics, chemistry, astronomy, biology, molecular biology, ecology, planetary science, geography, and geology to study “anything and everything about life on Earth in order to understand how life might arise and survive elsewhere in the Universe”.

New Zealand is considered by international astrobiology practitioners to be an excellent field site. For example, there are unique extremophiles in the hot springs in Rotorua, Lake Taupo area and we can easily access the KT Boundary or the Dry Valleys in Antarctica. There is a network of scientists throughout New Zealand with excellent credentials in most of the interdisciplinary fields which make astrobiology. Their skills in microbiology, ecology, biosecurity, physics, astronomy, radio astronomy and geology, only to count a few, represent an accessible yet rich knowledge base, with local expertise. You do not have to be a RASNZ member to be part of the Astrobiology Group but we would encourage you to do so and support the great work of the Society.

Education Group - This group is currenty in abeyance.



The Education Group are a team of educators from around New Zealand who are dedicated to supporting both students and teachers of astronomy. Our website hosts an extensive list of resources and information and we welcome contributions by way of feedback and news articles from anyone with an interest in astronomy education.