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Space and astronomy digest: June 2012

Last Updated on Friday, 08 June 2012 16:47
Published on Friday, 08 June 2012 16:25

The June RAS digest of upcoming space and astronomy events. This month sees the launch of the NuSTAR high energy X-ray observatory, a public lecture on the outer planets and a special conference on gamma ray bursts.


10-14 June: 220th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society



The American Astronomical Society summer meeting will take place from 10 to 14 June 2012 in Anchorage, Alaska in the United States. This major international conference will bring together more than 1100 scientists who will present and discuss the latest research in astronomy and space science.

Sessions at the meeting will cover topics from planets in our own Solar System to worlds around other stars, black holes, the formational of galaxies and cosmology.


220th AAS meeting



Dr Rick Fienberg
Press Officer
American Astronomical Society
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A press room will operate throughout the meeting and registration is complementary for bona fide working journalists (contact Rick Fienberg for details).


12 June: RAS public lecture: Strangers and Giants



Dr Chris Arridge of the Mullard Space Science Laboratory will give the latest Royal Astronomical Society public lecture at 1300 BST on 12 June. In his talk, he will take the audience on a cruise around the giant planets in our Solar System; namely Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, exploring the work of planetary scientists in understanding these distant worlds. Dr Arridge will conclude with an overview of upcoming space missions to the outer planets.


RAS public lectures



Robert Massey
Royal Astronomical Society
Tel: +44 (0)20 7734 3307 / 4582 x214
Mob: +44 (0)794 124 8035
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13 June: Launch of Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR)



On 13 June the launch window opens for the NASA Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) X-ray telescope. NuSTAR is set to take off atop a Pegasus XL rocket that will be carried aloft by an L-1011 Stargazer plane, a modified Lockheed L-1011 passenger airliner. The aircraft, rocket and payload will take off from Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific and the telescope will be deployed in an orbit 550 km above the Earth for a planned 2 year mission.

nustar-silverArtist's concept of NuSTAR deployed in orbit. Credit: NASA/JPL-CaltechNuSTAR will be the first observatory to image the sky in the high energy X-ray region of the electromagnetic spectrum. The spacecraft will be used to take a census of collapsed stars (e.g. white dwarfs and neutron stars) and black holes surrounding the centre of our Galaxy, map material created in recent supernova explosions and investigate the mechanism powering the jets of particles from the supermassive black holes found in the most active galaxies. The mission will also map microflares on the Sun and respond to events like gamma ray bursts, the immensely powerful events thought to be associated with the explosion of the most massive stars.


NuSTAR mission home page


Whitney Clavin, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California, USA
Tel: +1 818 354 4673
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18-22 June: Gamma ray bursts in the era of rapid follow-up, Liverpool John Moores University



Between 18 and 22 June, leading astrophysicists will gather at Liverpool John Moores University for a RAS sponsored meeting on gamma ray bursts.

The scientists will use the example of these dramatic events to explore the frontiers of high-energy astrophysics at the interface between three wide-reaching disciplines - the physics of relativistic jets, astrophysical probes of theories of fundamental physics and the nature of the high-redshift Universe.

The conference will be underpinned by a strong theoretical framework and will highlight the new technological innovations being developed to address some of the most challenging questions in modern astrophysics.


Gamma ray bursts in the era of rapid follow-up: conference home page



LivJMU Astrophysics Research Institute

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Clare Doran
LivJMU Press Office

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Robert Massey
(details above)


Night sky in June



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.



The Night Sky: Jodrell Bank


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

Follow the RAS on Twitter via @royalastrosoc