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Space and astronomy digest: June 2010

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 June 2010 14:53
Published on Wednesday, 02 June 2010 21:18

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The June digest of forthcoming space and astronomy events, from the RAS. This month sees the launch of a solar observatory, the climax of a seven-year mission to collect samples from an asteroid and a conjunction of Venus with the Beehive star cluster. Image: Artist's illustration of PICARD (Credit: (c)2006 CNES)

 

Space and astronomy digest: June 2010
Royal Astronomical Society Press Release
Ref: RAS PN 10/43
2 June 2010
For immediate release

 

 

 

Twitter: @royalastrosoc

 

Space and astronomy digest: June 2010

 

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

 

4 JUNE: FIRST TEST LAUNCH OF FALCON 9, CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA

 

The Falcon 9 commercial launch vehicle, built by Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) is set to make its test launch on 4 June, when it will blast off from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral in Florida. Founded in 2002, SpaceX uses vehicles like Falcon 9 to offer a commercial route for satellites and (eventually) crewed spacecraft to be placed into Earth orbit.

 

 

Media enquiries:
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8 JUNE: RAS LUNCHTIME LECTURE: SONGS OF THE STARS: THE REAL MUSIC OF THE SPHERES: BURLINGTON HOUSE, LONDON

 

At 1 p.m. on Tuesday 8 June, Professor Don Kurtz of the University of Central Lancashire will present a multimedia lecture looking at the relationship of music to stellar sounds. He will discuss the development of stellar-inspired music over the last 2500 years, such as compositions where every member of the orchestra takes on the role of a star. Professor Kurtz will go on to present the latest discoveries using stellar sounds and vibrations, including stars that are giant diamonds the size of the Earth and how this technique is being used to discover new planets outside the Solar system.

 

 

Media enquiries:
Robert Massey (details above)

 

13 JUNE: HAYABUSA RETURNS POSSIBLE ASTEROID SAMPLE TO EARTH

 

Launched in 2003, the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) spacecraft Hayabusa arrived at the asteroid Itokawa in 2005. Part of its mission was to collect samples from the asteroid and return them to Earth. Despite unexpected fuel loss, communication problems, damage from a solar flare and uncertainty around the success of the collection process, the JAXA scientists and engineers have managed to bring the spacecraft back to Earth. The probe is now set to release its sample on 13 June and three hours later the capsule should land in the Woomera Prohibited Area in Australia. Hayabusa itself will enter the Earth’s atmosphere at the same time and is expected to disintegrate.

 

 

Media enquiries:
JAXA Public Affairs Department
Tel: +81 3 6266 6400

 

15 JUNE: LAUNCH OF PRISMA AND PICARD MISSIONS

 

On 15 June the Prisma and PICARD missions are set for a joint launch atop a Dnepr rocket from the Dombarovsky Cosmodrome in southern Russia.

 

Prisma is a Swedish National Space Board / Swedish Space Corporation mission, developed with the German and French space agencies, the Technical University of Denmark and a number of commercial partners. Using two satellites in orbit 700 km above the Earth, it will test autonomous formation flying of spacecraft over a period of 10 months.

 

 

Media enquiries:
Louise Sjöstrand
Communications
Swedish National Space Board
Tel: +46 8 627 64 89
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Named after the seventeenth-century astronomer Jean Picard, who made the first accurate measurements of the diameter of the Sun, PICARD will operate for 2 years in an orbit 725 km above the Earth. The satellite will simultaneously measure the output of the Sun and the solar diameter and shape whilst using helioseismology to probe the interior of our nearest star. PICARD will be used to study how all these vary with observed solar activity and how these changes influence the atmosphere and climate of the Earth.

 

 

Media enquiries:
Gwenaëlle Verpeaux
CNES Press and Public affairs Department
Tel. +33 1 44 76 74 04
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15 JUNE: LAUNCH OF SOYUZ TMA-19 TO INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION

 

The Soyuz TMA-19 spacecraft is set to launch on June 15 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, ferrying a crew of three to the International Space Station (ISS). The spacecraft will carry Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin and US astronauts Shannon Walker and Douglas Wheelock, who will join the three other members of Expedition 24 already on board the ISS.

 

Russian Federal Space Agency
http://www.federalspace.ru/main.php

 

 

20 JUNE: VENUS PASSES IN FRONT OF BEEHIVE STAR CLUSTER

 

Just before midnight on 20 June the planet Venus will pass in front of the star cluster M44 (named the ‘Beehive’) located in the constellation of Cancer. From a dark site, both the planet and far more distant stars are easily visible with the unaided eye, but will be much easier to see with a pair of binoculars. From the UK, the event takes place when the planet and star cluster are visible low in the western sky.

 

Full details (including a sky map) can be found at
http://www.jodrellbank.manchester.ac.uk/astronomy/nightsky/

 

20-25 JUNE: ASSYMETRIC PLANETARY NEBULAE, LAKE DISTRICT, UNITED KINGDOM

 

From 20 to 25 June, astronomers will gather at Bowness-on-Windermere in the Lake District in the UK for a conference on asymmetric planetary nebulae, a sub-class of the clouds of dusty and gaseous material ejected by stars like the Sun at the end of their lives. The scientists will discuss the latest results from ground- and space-based observatories, the way that asymmetric planetary nebulae are shaped and the composition of the material they contain.

 

 

Media enquiries:
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22-26 JUNE: THE COSMIC ENIGMA: COSMOLOGY AND PARTICLE ASTROPHYSICS, LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM

 

Leading scientists from the Weizmann Institute will join their peers from around the UK in a conference at University College London. Delegates will present their latest research in particle physics and astrophysics, theoretical cosmology, dark matter, galaxy formation and high energy phenomena in the Universe.

 

The cosmic enigma: cosmology and particle astrophysics
http://www.weizmann.org.uk/?node=13&id=30

 

JUNE’S NIGHT SKY

 

Information on stars, planets, meteor showers and other celestial phenomena is available from the British Astronomical Association (BAA) at http://www.britastro.org and http://www.jodrellbank.manchester.ac.uk/astronomy/nightsky/

 

NOTES FOR EDITORS

 

THE ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY

 

The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS: www.ras.org.uk), 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.