Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand

Historical 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.

The aims and objectives of the Historical Section are to:

(1)      promote the study of Aotearoa / New Zealand astronomical history and ethnoastronomy;

(2)      encourage research and research collaborations on aspects of Aotearoa / New Zealand astronomical history and ethnoastronomy, and on the work of notable expatriate New Zealand astronomers (both living and deceased);

(3)      identify existing gaps in research and aim to systematically fill these through carefully-planned dedicated research projects;

(4)      encourage the publication of research results (especially in Southern Stars, but also, from time to time, in leading international journals);

(5)      encourage the presentation of research results at conferences, seminars and workshops (but especially the annual conferences of the RASNZ);

(6)      from time to time organise conferences, workshops or seminars, either as stand-alone RASNZ ventures, or in collaboration with other groups (e.g., Affiliated Societies, or the Royal Society of New Zealand) or institutions (e.g., museums, universities);

(7)      respond to historical enquiries from RASNZ members, from members of Affiliated Societies; from school teachers and students; and from the general public;

(8)      liaise with other sections of the RASNZ and encourage collaborative historical research projects;

(9)      liaise with other astronomical groups such as SMART; Commissions C3 and C4 of the IAU; the Organising Committee of the International Conference on Oriental Astronomy (which now includes both Australia and New Zealand in their geographical catchment); and the History and Heritage Working Group of the SE Asian Astronomy Network; and

(10)    encourage non-NZ-related history of astronomy research by NZ or NZ-based astronomers.

Two documents relating to the work of this Section can be downloaded here:

  1. Publications relating to NZ's astronomical history
  2. Current research projects on NZ's astronomical history