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RAS PN 08/37: Space and astronomy digest: May 2008

Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 April 2010 17:27
Published on Thursday, 01 May 2008 00:00
The latest digest of space and astronomy news, from the Royal Astronomical Society. May will see a new President of the RAS, a specialist meeting on the European Extremely Large Telescope project and at the end of the month the Phoenix spacecraft will land on Mars.

ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY PRESS INFORMATION NOTE

Date: 1 May 2008
For Immediate Release
Ref.: PN 08/37

Issued by:

Dr Robert Massey
RAS Press Officer
Royal Astronomical Society
Burlington House
Piccadilly
London W1J 0BQ
Tel: +44 (0)794 124 8035, +44 (0)20 7734 4582
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
RAS website: www.ras.org.uk

RAS SPACE AND ASTRONOMY DIGEST: MAY 2008

This release contains a summary of some astronomical and space events that will be taking place during May. It has been written to assist the media in planning and researching future stories related to space science and astronomy, particularly those with UK involvement. It is not intended to be fully comprehensive. Dates and times may be subject to change.

9 MAY: RAS SPECIALIST DISCUSSION MEETING: THE EUROPEAN EXTREMELY LARGE TELESCOPE: RAS LECTURE THEATRE, BURLINGTON HOUSE, LONDON

On 9 May 2008, leading astronomers will gather to discuss the development of and science case for the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). With a primary mirror around 42m across the E-ELT would dwarf the largest telescopes in existence today. Construction of the E-ELT could begin as early as 2010 and the telescope could be up and running by 2017. Scientists will consider the proposed instrumentation for the telescope and the advances in astronomy that could result from its construction, from looking at the first galaxies in the Universe to finding Earth-like planets around other stars.

FURTHER INFORMATION (INCLUDING MEETING PROGRAMME)

CONTACT
Robert Massey (details above)

9 MAY: RAS ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING, BURLINGTON HOUSE, LONDON

The afternoon of 9 May sees the 188th annual general meeting of the RAS, the largest professional astronomical society in Europe. At the end of the meeting RAS President Professor Michael Rowan-Robinson will step down, handing over to President-elect Professor Andy Fabian of the University of Cambridge. Professor Fabian will serve as RAS president until May 2010.

FURTHER INFORMATION

CONTACT
Robert Massey (details above)

13 MAY: RAS LUNCHTIME LECTURE: THE FASCINATION OF THE HEAVENS – WOMEN IN ASTRONOMY IN AN AGE BEFORE EQUALITY, BURLINGTON HOUSE, LONDON

Dr Mary Bruck, Emeritus Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, will outline the little known contribution of women to astronomy from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries. For example, in the nineteenth century, enterprising amateur astronomers had private observatories for serious research, assisted in many cases by female family members. By contrast, Dr Bruck will explain how independently-minded women with university degrees sought proper professional careers in science but had only limited success.

The lunchtime lectures are open to everyone and take place in the newly-refurbished Burlington House, the headquarters of the RAS off Piccadilly in central London. The lectures take place at 1pm on the first Tuesday of each month and the audience can take their seats from 12.45.

FURTHER INFORMATION

RAS website

CONTACT
Robert Massey (details above)

26 MAY: PHOENIX LANDS ON MARS

After a nine month journey, at 0053 BST on 26 May (2353 GMT on 25 May) the Phoenix spacecraft is set to land on Mars. The probe will touch down near the Martian North Pole in an area referred to as ‘Green Valley’, identified using images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter mission. The landing site is very flat and free of boulders, making it a relatively safe choice.

Phoenix will be used to study the ice-rich soil found in the Martian Arctic. The science team, including astronomers from Imperial College London and the University of Bristol, will investigate the history of water in the soil and the possibility of past or present life on the red planet.

FURTHER INFORMATION

Phoenix home page

CONTACTS

Julia Maddock
Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)
Tel: +44 (0)1793 442094
Mob: +44 (0)7901 514975
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Sara Hammond
University of Arizona
Tel: +1 520 626 1974
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

31 MAY: LAUNCH OF SPACE SHUTTLE DISCOVERY TO INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION

The launch window for the NASA Space Shuttle Discovery begins on 31 May. Discovery will carry more components of the Japanese Space Agency’s Kibo laboratory to the International Space Station (ISS). Construction of the ISS is expected to finish in 2010.

FURTHER INFORMATION

NASA

CONTACT

Katherine Trinidad
NASA HQ
Tel: +1 202 358 3749
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

NOTES FOR EDITORS

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.