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RAS PN 09/3: Space and astronomy digest: February 2009

Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 April 2010 14:39
Published on Monday, 02 February 2009 00:00
The latest digest of astronomy and space news, from the RAS. This month sees the official UK celebration of IYA2009 and the launch of NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory.

ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY PRESS INFORMATION NOTE
Date: 2nd February 2009
For Immediate Release
Ref.: PN 09/3

Issued by:
Dr Robert Massey
Press and Policy 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.
Web: http://www.ras.org.uk

RAS PN 09/3: SPACE AND ASTRONOMY DIGEST: FEBRUARY 2009
 
This release contains a summary of some astronomical, space and geophysical events that will be taking place during February. 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.

6TH-7TH FEBRUARY: ASTROFEST, KENSINGTON TOWN HALL, LONDON

Astrofest 2009 brings astronomy enthusiasts to Kensington Town Hall for the largest amateur astronomy event in Europe. Astrofest 2009 has two days of lectures and an exhibition that fills three floors.

FURTHER INFORMATION
http://www.astronomynow.com/astrofest

10TH FEBRUARY: RAS LUNCHTIME LECTURE: WILLIAM HERSCHEL: THE FIRST BIG TELESCOPE ASTRONOMER: ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY, BURLINGTON HOUSE, LONDON
 
In the latest public lecture at the RAS, due to take place at 1 pm on 10th February, historian of astronomy Dr Allan Chapman of Wadham College, University of Oxford, will give a presentation on the life of Sir William Herschel. Dr Chapman will discuss Herschel’s discovery of Uranus and subsequent rise to fame. The lecture will then outline Herschel’s later discovery of infra-red radiation, detailed drawings of what we now know to be external galaxies and the construction of what were then the world’s largest telescopes.

RAS
http://www.ras.org.uk
 
CONTACT
Robert Massey (details above)
 
12TH FEBRUARY: LAUNCH OF SPACE SHUTTLE DISCOVERY, KENNEDY SPACE CENTER
 
During a launch window beginning on the 12th February, the space shuttle Discovery is set to launch on the latest mission to continue the construction of the International Space Station (ISS). Discovery is targeted to launch at 0732 EST (1232 GMT). The shuttle will carry the S6 truss set and the final set of solar power arrays for installation on the ISS. Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata will remain on the Space Station, replacing current resident Sandra Magnus, who will return to Earth with the other six members of the Discovery crew.

FURTHER INFORMATION
http://www.nasa.gov

CONTACT

Katherine Trinidad
NASA Headquarters
Tel: +1 202 358 3749
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

12TH-13TH FEBRUARY: BRITISH GEOPHYSICAL ASSOCIATION, GEOLOGICAL SOCIETY, BURLINGTON HOUSE, LONDON
 
On the 12th and 13th February, scientists will gather at the Geological Society for a cross-disciplinary meeting of the British Geophysical Association (BGA) and the Mineralogical Society of Great Britain and Ireland. A selection of leading geophysicists will present the latest research on the structure, composition, dynamics and evolution of all regions of the Earth’s interior.
 
Bona fide members of the media who wish to attend this meeting should present their credentials at the registration desk for free admission.
 
A full programme for the meeting can be found at http://www.ras.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=227
 
CONTACT

Robert Massey (details above)
 
13TH FEBRUARY: RAS SPECIALIST DISCUSSION MEETING: FUTURE EXPLORATION OF THE JUPITER AND SATURN SYSTEMS: ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY,
BURLINGTON HOUSE, LONDON
 
On 13th February scientists will gather at the Royal Astronomical Society to discuss the prospects for exploration of the two largest planets in the Solar System, Jupiter and Saturn. The meeting will hear the proposals for two innovative missions to these planets under consideration by ESA and NASA and the science they could deliver. By the time of the meeting one of these – either the Europa and Jupiter System Mission or the Titan and Saturn System Mission – should have been selected for further development.
 
Bona fide members of the media who wish to attend this meeting should present their credentials at the registration desk for free admission.
 
The programme for the meeting can be found at http://www.ras.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=227 
CONTACT
Robert Massey (details above)

18TH FEBRUARY: LAUNCH EVENT FOR INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF ASTRONOMY 2009
 
The official British launch of the International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009) will take place at the Royal Observatory Greenwich (ROG) on the evening of 18th February. Around 200 guests from across the UK are expected to gather at the ROG for this celebration that will showcase the British contribution to astronomy and IYA2009. Highlights include a chance to observe the night sky using the UK’s largest public telescope (weather permitting), a link up with a state of the art observatory in the Canary Islands, astronomically themed music and performances and live shows in the Peter Harrison planetarium.

Members of the media who wish to attend should contact the Royal Observatory Greenwich in the first instance.

IYA2009 celebrates the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s use of the telescope for astronomy. IYA2009 is endorsed by UNESCO and is now supported by 136 countries under the leadership of the International Astronomical Union (IAU). In the UK IYA2009 is backed by the Royal Astronomical Society, the Institute of Physics and the Science and Technology Facilities Council.

FURTHER INFORMATION

Royal Observatory Greenwich (part of the National Maritime Museum)
http://www.nmm.ac.uk/places/royal-observatory/

IYA – UK home page
http://www.astronomy2009.co.uk
 
CONTACT

Sheryl Twigg
Head of Press
National Maritime Museum
Greenwich
London SE10 9NF
Tel: +44 (0)20 8312 6790
Mobile: +44 (0)7903 547284
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

23RD FEBRUARY: LAUNCH OF ORBITING CARBON OBSERVATORY, VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, CALIFORNIA

The Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO), NASA’s first spacecraft dedicated to studying atmospheric carbon dioxide is set to launch on 23rd February from Vandenberg Air Force in California. OCO will be carried on a Taurus XL rocket and enter a polar orbit 700 km (438 miles) above the surface of the Earth. The satellite will measure concentrations of carbon dioxide and molecular oxygen, using these data to study carbon dioxide sources and ‘sinks’ (where the gas is absorbed). OCO will make about 8 million high-precision measurements every 16 days and should operate until at least 2011.

FURTHER INFORMATION
http://www.nasa.gov/oco

CONTACT
Alan Buis
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Pasadena
California
USA
Tel: +1 818 354 0474
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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.