Space and astronomy digest: May 2011
The latest digest of forthcoming space and astronomy events from the RAS. Events this month include the likely final launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavour, a public lecture on the secrets of the Universe and a specialist discussion meeting on solar and stellar magnetic fields.
10 May: Next possible date for launch of NASA Space Shuttle Endeavour to ISS
The next launch date for the delayed final flight of the Space Shuttle Endeavour and the penultimate mission in NASA's Space Shuttle Program is now 10 May. When it takes off, Endeavour will travel to the International Space Station (ISS) carrying a crew of six astronauts, a spectrometer designed to detect antimatter and dark matter, and other Station components set to be installed in four separate spacewalks.
The mission will be commanded by Mark E. Kelly, whose wife is Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, critically injured in a shooting in Arizona in January, but now sufficiently recovered to attend the launch. The Shuttle will take off from the Kennedy Space Center and is scheduled to return 14 days later.
10 May: RAS lunchtime lecture: Secrets of the Universe
At 1 pm on 10 May, Professor Paul Murdin will give the latest RAS public lecture, where he will talk about the big discoveries that unlocked the hidden secrets of the Universe. Based on his recent book for Thames & Hudson, the lecture is an invitation to participate in moments of revelation and wonder as scientists first experienced them, starting with discoveries made at the advent of the telescope, through to those made within our own Solar System and on to gravitation, relativity, pulsars, and black holes. The lecture concludes by looking at where astronomy still teeters on the edge of discovery, for example in dark matter and dark energy.
Paul Murdin is an astronomer who has worked in observatories and space programmes in many countries all over the world and who now makes a second career in writing about astronomy.
RAS public lectures
Dr Robert Massey
13 May: RAS specialist discussion meeting: Earthquake mechanics and supershear rupture speeds
In a specialist discussion meeting at the RAS on 13 May, geophysicists will gather at the RAS, Burlington House, London, to present and discuss the latest research into the occurrence, nature and impact of 'supershear' earthquakes. The existence of these events was first suggested in the 1970s, when theoretical models demonstrated that some earthquakes could rupture faster than the local shear wave (where material oscillates at right angles to the direction of the wave) speed of the medium they travel through, causing a kind of 'sonic boom' shock. Direct observation of supershear events has been difficult, but now laboratory experiments have shown that they are of vital importance in understanding earthquake hazards, for example in their impact on high-rise buildings.
Full meeting programme
Bona fide members of the media who wish to attend this meeting should present their credentials at the registration desk in the Royal Astronomical Society for free admission.
13 May: RAS specialist discussion meeting: Waves and oscillations in the magnetic Sun
On 13 May, scientists will gather at the Geological Society, Burlington House, London, for a specialist discussion meeting on waves and oscillations in the magnetic field of the Sun. Delegates at the meeting will present and consider the latest research on the major role magnetic fields play in our own and other stars.
Full meeting programme
Bona fide members of the media who wish to attend this meeting should present their credentials at the registration desk in the Geological Society for free admission.
All month: May's night sky
Information on stars, planets, comets, meteor showers and other celestial phenomena is available from the British Astronomical Association (BAA), the Society for Popular Astronomy (SPA) and the Jodrell Bank night sky guide. Events this month include the annual maximum of the Eta Aquarids meteor shower on the morning of 6 May.
Jodrell Bank night sky guide: May 2011
NOTES FOR EDITORS
The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS, http://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 3500 members (Fellows), a third based overseas, include scientific researchers in universities, observatories and laboratories as well as historians of astronomy and others.
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