Space and astronomy digest: June and July 2015
The June and July summary of upcoming astronomy, space and geophysics events. Highlights this time include three major astronomy and space conferences and the New Horizons encounter with Pluto.
22-26 June: European Week of Astronomy and Space Science (EWASS 2015), La Laguna, Tenerife
The EWASS 2015 conference will take place in Tenerife from 22 to 26 June. Around 1200 delegates are expected to attend, making it one of the largest European astronomy meetings.
Sessions will take place on topics including the Sun, exoplanets, stars and other galaxies, scientific instrumentation, cosmology and outreach, with leading experts presenting the latest work in these fields.
A limited number of media registrations are available at no cost for accredited members of the press.
23-26 June: RAS Specialist Discussion Meeting: Fireworks 2015: “New and emerging classes of transients”, Liverpool John Moores University
From 23 to 26 June, scientists will gather at Liverpool John Moores University for a RAS-sponsored conference on superluminous supernovae. The meeting will bring together observers and theorists to make progress on the physics of these events, confronting models and data to better understand some of the most dramatic phenomena in the universe.
26 June: Launch of Falcon 9 (Space X CRS 7) to International Space Station
The latest resupply mission for the International Space Station (ISS) is scheduled for 26 June, when a Dragon cargo spacecraft will launch atop a Falcon 9 rocket. The mission, run by the SpaceX corporation, will deliver an adaptor to enable future spacecraft to dock more easily with the Station. After a number of launch failures, many Russian rockets are grounded, so the SpaceX system is an important route for supplies to reach the ISS and its crew.
5-9 July: RAS National Astronomy Meeting (NAM 2015), Llandudno
The Royal Astronomical Society will hold its annual National Astronomy Meeting (NAM 2015) from 5 to 9 July at Venue Cymru, Llandudno, Wales. Britain’s largest dedicated astronomy conference, NAM 2015 will bring together around 500 delegates from the UK and overseas, who will discuss topics ranging from archaeoastronomy and active galactic nuclei to comparative planetology and public engagement.
Bona fide members of the media are cordially invited to attend NAM 2015 and can register at no cost. (Please contact Robert Massey for more details.)
13-15 July: UK Space Conference, Liverpool
The UK Space Conference 2015 will take place from 13-15 July, at the Arena and Convention Centre in Liverpool. Expected to attract more than 800 delegates, the biennial conference will have the theme of ‘Space Enabled Futures’. Sessions will take place on a range of topics including space, society and culture; space and the surveillance society; opportunities for business; earth observation; spaceports and spaceplanes, and space and life and biomedical sciences.
14 July: New Horizons makes closest approach to Pluto
After a 9 year journey, the New Horizons spacecraft will fly past Pluto on 14 July, making its closest approach at 1250 BST (1150 GMT), when it will be just 12,500 km from the dwarf planet. Launched in January 2006, the NASA mission is the first to visit Pluto and will allow scientists to study this tiny distant world in unprecedented detail.
Pluto is less than 1,200 km across and travels in an eccentric orbit around the Sun that sees its distance vary between 4.4 and 7.3 billion km. New Horizons travelled to Pluto via Jupiter, using the gravity of the giant planet to boost its speed and shorten its journey.
The probe will map large areas of Pluto and Charon, its largest moon, using instruments to measure the chemical composition of their surface and atmospheres and check for changes caused by weather. During the 30 minutes of closest approach, New Horizons will be able to resolve surface features as small as 60 metres across.
After leaving the Pluto system, New Horizons will continue travelling into the Kuiper Belt, a region of the Solar system made up of comet-like icy bodies that are typically between a kilometre and a few hundreds of kilometres across. The probe should be able to study a number of these over the next few years.
20 July: Launch of Long March 6, China
The first launch of the Long March 6 rocket is set to take place on 20 July, when the vehicle is expected to blast off from the Taiyuan spaceport in China. The rocket is part of a new generation of space launchers, and can carry a payload of 25 tonnes to low Earth orbit, so could for example be used to construct a space station. The July launch will have a payload of small Chinese amateur and university research satellites. See the China National Space Administration for more information.
Night sky in June and July
Information on stars, planets, comets, meteor showers and other celestial phenomena is available from the British Astronomical Association (BAA), the Society for Popular Astronomy and the Jodrell Bank night sky guide.
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 3800 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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