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RAS PN06/39: Space & Astronomy Digest November 2006

Last Updated on Sunday, 01 December 2013 20:40
Published on Tuesday, 31 October 2006 00:00
This release contains a summary of some significant astronomical and space events that will be taking place during November. It includes RAS Discussion Meetings on Solar System exploration and supernovae, the Leonid meteor shower and a transit of Mercury.
3 NOVEMBER: YOUNG SCIENTISTS’ PLANETARY MEETING

The 4th Young Scientists’ Planetary Meeting will be held at the Society of Antiquaries Lecture Theatre, Burlington House, London W1 on 3 November. The aim of this event is to enable junior scientists to meet, learn about planetary work done in the UK, share experiences and explore possible collaborations. Another important aim is to provide less experienced scientists with an opportunity to present their own work to fellow scientists at similar levels in their careers. This also helps to further integrate the UK planetary community.
 
Topics will include:
* Lunar meteorites and micrometeorites;
* Ammonium sulphate volcanism on Titan;
* Catastrophic flooding on Mars;
* Terrestrial planet formation in hot Jupiter systems;
* Analysing the surface of Europa.
 
CONTACT
Carly Howett
UK Planetary Forum Chairperson
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  
 
FURTHER INFORMATION
http://shaper.bnsc.rl.ac.uk:8080/PF/forum/ukpf_young2006.html  
 
UK Planetary Forum:
http://www.ukplanetaryforum.org  

 
8 NOVEMBER: TRANSIT OF MERCURY

On Wednesday, 8 November, Mercury will transit the Sun for the first time since 2003. The transit or passage of a planet across the face of the Sun is a fairly rare occurrence. As seen from Earth, only transits of Mercury and Venus are possible. There are approximately 13 transits of Mercury each century. In comparison, transits of Venus occur in pairs with more than a century separating each pair.

This Mercury transit will be widely visible from the Americas, the Pacific Ocean, eastern Asia, and Australia. Observers throughout most of the Americas will witness the beginning of the transit but the Sun will set before it ends. In Asia and most of Australia the transit will already be in progress as the Sun rises. Regions where the entire transit is visible include western North America, the eastern Pacific, New Zealand, south eastern Australia and Antarctica. The transit will not be visible from anywhere within Europe, Africa or western Asia.

The last Mercury transit occurred in 2003.  The next transit of Mercury will take place on 9 May 2016 and will be visible from the Americas, Europe, Africa and central Asia. An even more rare transit of Venus occurs in June 2012.
 
FURTHER INFORMATION
 
NASA eclipse web site:
http://sunearth.gsfc.nasa.gov/eclipse/OH/transit06.html

 
8-9 NOVEMBER: PLANETARY GEOSCIENCES - WILLIAM SMITH MEETING
This year, the William Smith Meeting, the Geological Society’s premier annual meeting, will be devoted to Planetary Geosciences. The meeting will be held at the Geological Society, Burlington House, London W1 on 8 - 9 November.

Exploration of our Solar System has now reached a stage where on many other planetary bodies we can perform geoscience investigations of a kind that could previously be achieved only on Earth. Investigations range from basic stratigraphy to studies of global chemical, meteorological and hydrological cycles, and to the question of habitats for life.

The William Smith lecturer will be Steven Squyres (Mars Exploration Rover Principal Investigator, Cornell University), who will be speaking about ‘Field Geology on Mars: the Mars Exploration Rover Mission’. Other invited talks include ‘The Huygens landing site on Titan’ (John Zarnecki, Open University) and ‘Frozen Seas on Mars’ (John Murray, Open University).

This year the meeting is co-sponsored by the Royal Astronomical Society and the Open University’s Centre for Earth, Planetary, Space & Astronomical Research (CEPSAR).

PROGRAMME
http://www.geolsoc.org.uk/pdfs/Prog%204.pdf  
 
CONTACTS:
Dr. David Rothery
Open University
Milton Keynes
Tel:
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

Dr. Phil Bland
Imperial College London
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Georgina Worrall
Geological Society
Tel: +44 (0)207-434-9944
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
 
10 NOVEMBER: RAS SPECIALIST DISCUSSION MEETING – SOLAR SYSTEM EXPLORATION BY SPACECRAFT AND BY SAMPLE ANALYSIS
A RAS Specialist Discussion Meeting on ‘Solar System Exploration by Spacecraft and by Sample Analysis’ will be held in the Geological Society lecture theatre, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1 on 10 November, 10.30 – 15.30. Topics include:
* Evidence of planet formation from the Protoplanetary Disk;
* The edge of the Solar System and the Pioneer anomaly;
* Comets after Deep Impact and Stardust;
* Saturn and Titan;
* Missions to the Moon and Mars;
* Genesis, the solar wind and the Sun-Earth connection.

CONTACTS
Prof. Monica Grady
Open University
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Prof. Ian Wright
Open University
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10 NOVEMBER: RAS SPECIALIST DISCUSSION MEETING – CORE-COLLAPSE SUPERNOVAE AND THEIR MASSIVE PROGENITORS
A RAS Specialist Discussion Meeting on ‘Core-collapse Supernovae and their massive progenitors’ will be held in the Society of Antiquaries lecture theatre, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1 on 10 November, 10:30–15:30. During the meeting, Adam Burrows (Steward Observatory, Arizona) will be giving a review paper entitled ‘Theory of core-collapse supernovae’.
 
FURTHER INFORMATION AND PROGRAMME
 
http://www.shef.ac.uk/physics/people/pacrowther/ras.html  
 
images/stories/ras_pdfs/meetings2006-2007/0611Ants.pdf  
 
CONTACTS
Dr. Paul Crowther
University of Sheffield
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Prof. Stephen Smartt
Queen’s University Belfast
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10 NOVEMBER: RAS ORDINARY MEETING
The monthly RAS Ordinary Meeting will be held in the Geological Society lecture theatre, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1, 16:00 – 18:00.
The following talks will be given:
* Dr Roberto Trotta (Oxford; RAS Norman Lockyer Fellow) – ‘Neutrino Properties from Cosmology’;
* Prof. Iwan Williams (QMUL; member of the IAU Planet Definition Committee) -
‘The Path to Defining a Planet’;
* Prof. Athena Coustenis (Paris-Meudon) – ‘Titan after the Cassini-Huygens Mission’ (the 2006 Harold Jeffreys Lecture).
 
FURTHER INFORMATION
 
images/stories/ras_pdfs/meetings2006-2007/0611jeffreys.pdf  
 
 
10-11 NOVEMBER 2006: WORKSHOP ON COMPARATIVE PLANETARY AURORAE
The workshop on Earth-based and space-based observations of planetary aurorae will take place from 10-11 November in the Physics & Astronomy Department of University College London. The workshop is supported by the Europlanet activity N3 - Coordinated Earth-Based and Space-Based Observations Activity. ( http://europlanet.oeaw.ac.at ).
 
Our understanding of planetary aurorae, including that of Earth, has advanced significantly in recent years, as a result of several space missions, ground-based observations and theoretical developments. A start has been made in co-ordinating ground-based and spacecraft missions for individual planets, through the activities of Europlanet N3 and other agencies. This workshop aims to bring together space-based and ground-based studies with the latest theoretical and modelling efforts to review progress and plan for the future. One question it may be particularly fruitful to address is the setting up of campaigns to make simultaneous multi-planet (including Earth) observations that will provide information about solar wind locations throughout the Solar System.
 
CONTACTS
Local Organising Committee:
Makenzie Lystrup
APL, University College London
Tel: +44 (0)207-679-3372
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
Local Scientific Organising  Committee:
Steve Miller, APL, University College London ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )
Alan Aylward, APL, University College London ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )
Tom Stallard, APL, University College London ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )
 
 
18 NOVEMBER: LEONIDS METEOR SHOWER
The annual Leonid meteor shower will take place 15 – 20 November. People living in western Europe or eastern North America may be able to catch a glimpse of an intense, albeit brief, display of Leonid meteors on the night of 18-19 November. The expected time of peak activity is 04:45 GMT on the morning of 19 November, though a modest number of shooting stars will be visible well before and after that time. In western Europe, the sickle-shaped constellation of Leo will then be high in the south eastern sky, giving the very best views of the Leonids.
 
The Leonids all appear to originate from the constellation of Leo, the Lion, but they may be seen in any part of the night sky. They are composed of dusty debris shed by Temple-Tuttle, a small comet that orbits the Sun once every 33 years. Spectacular meteor displays - hundreds, if not thousands per hour - are often seen for several years after the comet passes through the inner Solar System. The comet’s last passage occurred in 1998, leading to meteor storms each year until 2002.
 
Since 2003 the shower has been disappointing, barely producing more than 10 meteors per hour. However, calculations suggest that in 2006 Earth may pass through a narrow, but dense ribbon of dust that was shed by comet Temple-Tuttle when it passed the Sun in 1932. This may result in 100 to 150 meteors in less than hour.
 
Even if no exceptional activity is seen, the shower is likely to include a steady stream of fast (entry velocity 70 km/s) meteors, including several bright events with lingering persistent ionisation trains.
 
FURTHER INFORMATION
 
Space.Com:
http://space.com/scienceastronomy/061017_leonids_2006.html
 
British Astronomical Society:
http://britastro.org/baa/content/view/175/118/
 
 
24 NOVEMBER 2006: LONDON AUTUMN MIST MEETING,
The autumn meeting of the Magnetosphere Ionosphere and Solar-Terrestrial (MIST) community will take place at the Geological Society, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1 on 24 November.
 
FURTHER INFORMATION
 
MIST web site:
http://www.mist.ac.uk/


NOTE FOR EDITORS

This release has been written in order 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.