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RAS PN 08/41: Space and astronomy digest: July 2008

Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 April 2010 15:53
Published on Thursday, 03 July 2008 00:00
The July and early August digest of space and astronomy events. The next few weeks see conferences on Mars and Saturn, the presentation of the STFC Programmatic Review and a solar eclipse.
ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY PRESS INFORMATION NOTE
Date: 3 July 2008
For Immediate Release
Ref.: PN 08/41

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: JULY 2008

This release contains a summary of some astronomical and space events that will be taking place during July and early August. 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.

8 JULY: STFC OPEN SCIENCE COMMUNITY MEETING, ROYAL SOCIETY, LONDON

Keith Mason, Chief Executive of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) will head a panel that will present and discuss the conclusion of the Programmatic Review of priorities for science funding (including research in astronomy and space science). The final STFC Programmatic Review follows extensive consultation with the scientific community. The meeting begins at 1030 BST in the Wellcome Theatre of the Royal Society and will be followed by a briefing for the media.

CONTACT

Julia Maddock
Senior Press Officer
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.

9-10 JULY: INTERNATIONAL MARS SAMPLE RETURN CONFERENCE, BIBLIOTHEQUE NATIONALE DE FRANCE, PARIS

This meeting will bring together members of the scientific and industrial communities and representatives of space agencies around the world to consider the status of and prospects for Mars exploration over the coming decades. The Conference will discuss the ambitious proposal for a robotic mission to collect samples from Mars and return them to the Earth, as part of a global effort to explore the Red Planet. Delegates will hear keynote addresses from scientists Steve Squyres of Cornell University, principal investigator on the Mars Exploration Rovers mission, and Jean-Pierre Bibring of the Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale, a principal investigator on the ESA Mars Express orbiter.

FURTHER INFORMATION AND REGISTRATION


CONTACT

Piero Messina
Directorate of Human Spaceflight
European Space Agency
Tel: +33 (0)6 8771 5126
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

28 JULY – 1 AUGUST: SATURN AFTER CASSINI-HUYGENS, IMPERIAL COLLEGE LONDON

Since 2004, the ESA / NASA Cassini-Huygens spacecraft has been in orbit around Saturn, where it studies the planet and its rings and moons. One of the early highlights of the mission was the descent of the Huygens lander to the surface of Saturn’s largest moon Titan.

At a special conference from 28 July to 1 August, leading astronomers and planetary scientists will gather at Imperial College London to discuss the Cassini-Huygens mission and future plans for further exploration of the Saturn system.


CONTACT

Julia Maddock
Senior Press Officer
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.

1 AUGUST: TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE

On 1 August 2008 there will be a total eclipse of the Sun. Total solar eclipses take place when the Earth, Moon and Sun are aligned and the shadow of the Moon touches the surface of the Earth. At mid-eclipse, observers within the lunar shadow will briefly see totality, where the silhouette of the Moon completely covers the Sun, revealing the beautiful outer solar atmosphere or corona.

At its broadest the lunar shadow is only 237 km (148 miles) wide but it moves across the world as the Earth rotates. On 1 August this path begins in Canada, where observers will see the eclipse at sunrise, and then crosses northern Greenland, the Arctic, Barents Sea, Russia and Mongolia before ending in China where the eclipse is visible at sunset. On the ground the maximum duration of totality is 2 minutes 27 seconds but observers away from the centre of the track and at either end will see a significantly shorter event.

Away from the path of the total eclipse the Sun is only partly obscured by the Moon. This partial eclipse is visible across a large part of the northern hemisphere, including much of Europe and the whole of the UK. In London the partial phase of the eclipse begins at 0933 BST (0833 GMT). Maximum eclipse is at 1018 BST (0918 GMT) when 12% of the Sun will be blocked. The partial eclipse ends at 1105 BST (1005 GMT).

Although eclipses of the Sun are spectacular events, they should NOT be viewed with the unaided eye except during totality. Without the use of specialist filters, the partial eclipse visible from the UK can only be safely studied by using a pinhole or telescope to PROJECT the Sun’s image onto card and observers should NEVER look at the Sun with or without optical aid. On 1 August, some amateur astronomical societies and public observatories will also be running events where members of the public can safely enjoy the eclipse.

CONTACT (BY E-MAIL ONLY FROM 25 JULY TO 7 AUGUST)

Dr Robert Massey
Royal Astronomical Society
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

FURTHER INFORMATION (INCLUDING DETAILS OF PUBLIC EVENTS AND SAFETY CONSIDERATIONS)
UK eclipse page from HM Nautical Almanac Office
http://www.eclipse.org.uk


Royal Observatory Greenwich (hosting a public event on 1 August)
http://www.rog.nmm.ac.uk

British Astronomical Association
http://www.britastro.org

NASA guide to eclipses: University of Waterloo (Ontario, Canada) Professor Ralph Chou on eye safety during solar eclipses
http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEhelp/safety2.html

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.