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Space & Astronomy Digest:November 2009

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 March 2010 22:09
Published on Monday, 22 March 2010 16:04

071109_rosetta_earth_02

Image: C. Carreau / European Space Agency

The November digest of space and astronomy news, from the Royal Astronomical Society. This month sees the final encounter with the Earth for the Rosetta spacecraft, a possible meteor outburst (visible from Asia) and specialist discussion meetings on solar magnetic fields and the interiors of other planets.

SPACE AND ASTRONOMY DIGEST: NOVEMBER 2009
ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY PRESS INFORMATION NOTE
Ref.: RAS PN 09/58
Date: 30th October 2009
For immediate release

Issued by:
Dr Robert Massey
Press and Policy Officer
Royal Astronomical Society
Burlington House
Piccadilly
London W1J 0BQ
Tel: +44 (0)20 7734 3307
Mob: +44 (0)794 124 8035
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

SPACE AND ASTRONOMY DIGEST: NOVEMBER 2009 (RAS PN 09/58)

This release summarises some of the astronomy and space science events taking place during November, particularly those with UK involvement. It is not intended to be fully comprehensive and dates and times may be subject to change.

2ND NOVEMBER: LAUNCH OF ESA SMOS AND PROBA-2 SATELLITES, PLESETSK COSMODROME, RUSSIA

At 0150 GMT on 2nd November, the launch window opens for the European Space Agency (ESA) Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) and PRoject for On-Board Autonomy (Proba)-2 missions. SMOS is the first satellite designed to monitor both ocean salinity and soil moisture on a global scale and should improve our knowledge of the Earth’s water cycle. Proba-2 will demonstrate a suite of newly developed technologies and a suite of instruments designed to monitor solar activity and the Earth’s plasma environment. Both satellites will be carried into orbit on a Russian Rockot vehicle that will launch from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia.

FURTHER INFORMATION

ESA SMOS and Proba-2 missions
http://www.esa.int/esaLP/LPsmos.html

CONTACT

ESA media relations
Tel: +33 1 5369 7299
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

3RD NOVEMBER: RAS EVENING EVENT: WOMEN IN EARLY BRITISH AND IRISH ASTRONOMY

At 1800 GMT on Tuesday 3rd November, this special public event will mark the publication of the final book of historian Dr Mary Bruck, who died last December. Her book, “Women in Early Irish and British Astronomy: Stars and Satellites”, contains 25 biographies of women, some well known and some less so, who made a real contribution to the science. Her work traces the story of women’s entry into the male world of professional science.

The evening includes presentations on Caroline Herschel (the first woman to receive the Gold Medal of the RAS) and on Dr Bruck herself and concludes with a drinks reception.

To reserve a place (members of the press are welcome to attend) please contact

Lara Maisey
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Tel: +44 (0)20 7734 3307 x.221


PRESS CONTACT
Dr Robert Massey (details above)

10TH NOVEMBER: RAS LUNCHTIME LECTURE: ARE WE STARDUST OR NUCLEAR WASTE?

At 1300 GMT on Tuesday 10th November, Dr Robin Catchpole of the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge, will give a public lecture at the RAS in Burlington House, London. Dr Catchpole will describe the story of the birth and death of stars and how this is intimately connected to the battle of matter against gravity, the origin of the elements and some of the largest explosions in the Universe.


CONTACT
Dr Robert Massey (details above)

13TH NOVEMBER: RAS SPECIALIST DISCUSSION MEETING: SOLAR MAGNETIC FIELDS AND THE DYNAMIC SUN: CELEBRATING THE CAREER OF PROF. E. R. PRIEST

On 13th November solar physicists will gather at the Geological Society in Burlington House, London for a special meeting celebrating the career of RAS Gold Medal winner Professor Eric Priest of the University of St. Andrews. The delegates will focus on our understanding of the magnetic fields emanating from our nearest star, including the latest theoretical ideas and observations.

Bona fide representatives of the media who wish to attend should present their credentials at the entrance desk of the Geological Society for free admission.


CONTACT
Dr Robert Massey (details above)

13TH NOVEMBER: RAS SPECIALIST DISCUSSION MEETING: IN-SITU GEOPHYSICAL STUDIES OF PLANETARY INTERIORS: PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE

On 13th November planetary scientists and experts in solid earth geophysics will gather at the Royal Astronomical Society, Burlington House, London, to discuss how measurements on the surfaces of other planets give us an insight into the interiors of these worlds. Delegates will discuss topics from the interior of Mars to the scientific results that will come from the MoonLITE mission.

Bona fide representatives of the media who wish to attend should present their credentials at the entrance desk of the Royal Astronomical Society for free admission.


CONTACT
Dr Robert Massey (details above)

13TH NOVEMBER: ROSETTA PROBE MAKES 3RD EARTH FLYBY

ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft will make its third and final flyby of the Earth on 13th November, with its closest approach at 0745 GMT, when it will be above the Indian Ocean, just south of the Indonesian island of Java. The encounter with Earth is a ‘gravity assist’ manoeuvre that will use the terrestrial gravitational field to accelerate the spacecraft. During the days immediately before and after the close approach, Rosetta’s instruments will be switched on and used to study the Earth-Moon system.

After leaving the vicinity of the Earth, Rosetta will then continue to its ultimate destination, Comet 67 P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, which it will reach in mid 2014, after an encounter with the asteroid Lutetia in July next year.


CONTACT

ESA media relations
Tel: +33 1 5369 7299
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

14TH NOVEMBER: GALLOWAY FOREST PARK ‘DARK SKY PARK’ DESIGNATION: DECISION BY IDSA

On 14th November, delegates at the 21st Annual General Meeting of the International Dark-Sky Association (IDSA) in Arizona will decide whether the Galloway Forest Park in southern Scotland should be approved as a Dark-Sky Park. If this is agreed, the designation will be the first of its kind in Europe and Galloway Forest Park will join only two other sites elsewhere in the world, recognising its almost complete absence of light pollution and unparalleled views of the night sky.

FURTHER INFORMATION

Scottish Forestry Commission: Dark Skies in Galloway Forest Park
http://www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/INFD-7R5HHE


CONTACT

Steve Williams
Forestry Commission
Tel: +44 (0)131 314 6508
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

16TH NOVEMBER: LAUNCH OF SPACE SHUTTLE ATLANTIS TO ISS

The Space Shuttle Atlantis is set to take off from Kennedy Space Center on the latest mission to assemble the International Space Station (ISS), with the first launch window for the mission opening at 1928 GMT (1428 EDT) on 16th November. During a flight that includes three scheduled spacewalks, Atlantis will be used to supply the ISS with parts including gyroscopes, pumps and spares. At the end of the mission astronaut Nicole Stott will leave the ISS and board the Shuttle for her return to Earth.


CONTACT

Katherine Trinidad, NASA HQ
Tel: +1 202 358 1100
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

17TH-18TH NOVEMBER: MAXIMUM OF LEONIDS METEOR SHOWER

The annual Leonids meteor shower peaks on the evening of 17th November. Meteors are the result of small particles entering the Earth’s atmosphere at high speed. In the case of the Leonid shower these come from the tail of Comet 55 P/Tempel-Tuttle, which was last in the vicinity of the Earth in 1998. To the eye, the meteors appear to originate from a point in the constellation Leo, hence the name Leonid.

This year meteor scientists predict a strong peak of activity in the shower, with the best views from Asia, where as many as 500 meteors per hour may be seen. If the Leonid peak lasts longer than predicted, it may be possible to see the end of it from Europe, although this may be of interest to serious rather than casual meteor observers.

FURTHER INFORMATION

International Meteor Organisation: Leonids in 2009
http://www.imo.net/calendar/2009#leo#



CONTACT

Dr Robert Massey (details above)

21ST–29TH NOVEMBER: SCHOOLS MOONWATCH

The last week of November sees the ‘Schools Moonwatch’, where pupils at schools across the UK will be taking a close look at the Moon using binoculars and small telescopes. This week was chosen for Schools Moonwatch as the Moon will be visible in the late afternoon and early evening, making it ideal for after-school events.

FURTHER INFORMATION


Society for Popular Astronomy: Moonwatch
http://www.popastro.com/moonwatch/

CONTACT

Steve Owens
UK Co-ordinator, IYA 2009
c/o Glasgow Science Centre
50 Pacific Quay
Glasgow G51 1EA
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)141 420 5010 x. 299
Mob: +44 (0)771 772 0479       
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF ASTRONOMY 2009 (IYA 2009)

In November another tranche of IYA 2009 events will take place across the UK. A comprehensive list can be found on the UK IYA 2009 home page at http://www.astronomy2009.co.uk. IYA2009 is endorsed by UNESCO and is now supported by 135 countries under the leadership of the International Astronomical Union (IAU).

Throughout the year, thousands of professional and amateur astronomers will be working with the public as part of a global effort to promote astronomy and its contribution to science and culture. A series of innovative projects will encourage public engagement, from observing sessions at observatories to online blogs, photographic exhibitions and the campaign to combat light pollution.

In the UK, IYA2009 is led by volunteers in amateur astronomical societies, universities, industry, museums and science centres and supported by the Royal Astronomical Society (http://www.ras.org.uk), the Institute of Physics (http://www.iop.org) and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (http://www.stfc.ac.uk).
 
UK CONTACT

Steve Owens
UK Co-ordinator, IYA2009
c/o Glasgow Science Centre
50 Pacific Quay
Glasgow G51 1EA
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)141 420 5010 x. 299
Mob: +44 (0)771 772 0479       
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

NOVEMBER’S NIGHT SKY

Information on stars, planets, meteor showers and other celestial phenomena is available from the British Astronomical Association (BAA).



NOTES FOR EDITORS

THE ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY

The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), founded in 1820, encourages and promotes the study of astronomy, solar-system science, geophysics and closely related branches of science. The RAS organizes scientific meetings, publishes international research and review journals, recognizes outstanding achievements by the award of medals and prizes, maintains an extensive library, supports education through grants and outreach activities and represents UK astronomy nationally and internationally. Its more than 3000 members (Fellows), a third based overseas, include scientific researchers in universities, observatories and laboratories as well as historians of astronomy and others.