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Space and astronomy digest: October 2010

Last Updated on Thursday, 30 September 2010 10:47
Published on Thursday, 30 September 2010 09:40


The latest digest of upcoming astronomy and space events, from the RAS. This month includes the launch of the second Chinese mission to the Moon and a 'Story of London' lecture on the role astronomy plays in the capital.


Spectroscopic astronomer Lady Margaret Huggins. Credit: RAS / SPL
1-3 October: Launch of Chang'e-2 mission to the Moon

China's latest space probe, the robotic Change-2 mission to the Moon, is scheduled to launch sometime between 1 and 3 October 2010. The probe will take off atop a Long March 3c rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China. Chang'e-2 will orbit the Moon at an altitude of 100 km, surveying its surface at a resolution of 1 metre in preparation for the soft landing of the Chang'e-3 rover scheduled for 2013.

China National Space Administration

4 October: Story of London: Capital cosmos: London's eye on the heavens

In 1919 scientists gathered in Burlington House, home of the Royal Astronomical Society, to hear how Eddington's eclipse expedition helped overturn centuries of scientific orthodoxy, supplanting Newton's long-established ideas with Einstein's radical new theory of General Relativity.

At 1300 BST on Monday 4 October, Steve Miller, Professor of Science Communication and Planetary Science at University College, London, will discuss not just the Eddington expedition, but a host of other examples of astronomy in London, from the 19th century husband and wife astronomers of Tulse Hill to the work on extrasolar planets that takes place at Mill Hill today.

This event is free for members of the general public, but tickets must be booked through Leila Taleb at the Geological Society (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 020 7432 0981)

Robert Massey (details above)

Story of London (Mayor of London / London Assembly)

RAS events guide

7 October: Infrared 100

On 7 October, the Royal Photographic Society Imaging Science Group will hold the first of two special day long seminars at the Geological Society celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first permanent infrared photograph by Professor Robert Wood. Delegates at the IR100 meeting will discuss the latest advances in infrared imaging.

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

RPS on IR 100

IR100 home page

8 October: Infrared in astronomy: a celebration to mark 100 years since the first infrared picture

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first permanent infrared photograph, delegates will gather for the second day of a special seminar at the Geological Society to discuss the latest advances in infrared astronomy. The meeting includes recent results from the Herschel and AKARI satellites and VISTA telescope and the impact of infrared imaging on cosmology.

Robert Massey (details above)

8 October: Structure and physical processes in solar system magnetotails: planets, moons and comets

UK and European solar system scientists will gather at the Royal Astronomical Society on 8 October, to discuss the latest UK-led research into the magnetic tails of planets, moons and comets in our Solar System and their implications for the wider Universe.

The interaction between the solar wind and different bodies in the solar system, such as Earth, Saturn, and comets, produces a tear-drop shaped cavity called a magnetosphere around the body with a "magnetotail" pointing away from the Sun. These play a key role in the flows of energy and matter in the space environments of the planets; for example they are important in generating the Northern Lights at Earth. Meeting delegates will consider the results from spacecraft that have provided new insights into these regions, from multi-spacecraft missions investigating the Earth's magnetotail to exciting new measurements of Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn.

Meeting home page

RAS events guide

Robert Massey (details above)

12 October: Space weather – a new natural hazard for the 21st century

As human society becomes more dependent on high technology, we face a new threat from Mother Nature. Many modern technologies are vulnerable to the effects of what scientists now term "space weather" - the ever-varying levels of radiation and magnetic fields in space. Like ordinary weather, space weather exhibits long periods of calm conditions which pose few problems, but occasionally there are large storms that can disrupt human activities and damage the infrastructures on which society depends - both those in space and many on the surface of the Earth.

In this public lecture, at 1300 BST on 12 October, Professor Mike Hapgood of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory will discuss the nature and history of space weather and how it has become a hazard to human society, especially over the past forty years. It will show that extreme space weather events are very rare, but also potentially very damaging. They must now be considered a major threat alongside other extremes of nature such as floods, tsunamis, hurricanes and other dangerous events.

RAS events guide

Robert Massey (details above)

All month: October's night sky

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


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 3500 members (Fellows), a third based overseas, include scientific researchers in universities, observatories and laboratories as well as historians of astronomy and others.