YOU ARE HERE: Home > News & Press > News archive > News 2009 > RAS PN 09/9: Space and astronomy digest: March 2009

I want information on:

Information for:

NEWS ARCHIVE

RAS PN 09/9: Space and astronomy digest: March 2009

Last Updated on Monday, 29 March 2010 22:00
Published on Tuesday, 03 March 2009 00:00
The March digest of space and astronomy news, from the Royal Astronomical Society. Highlights this month include the launch of a space mission that might find Earth-like planets, a meeting celebrating the 150th anniversary of a giant solar flare and the Spring Moonwatch, where astronomers aim to get thousands of people looking at the Moon through a telescope.
ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY PRESS INFORMATION NOTE
Date: 3rd March 2009
For Immediate Release
Ref.: PN 09/9

Issued by:
Dr Robert Massey
Press and Policy Officer
Royal Astronomical Society
Burlington House
Piccadilly
London W1J 0BQ
Tel: +44 (0)20 7734 3307 / 4582
Mob: +44 (0)794 124 8035
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

RAS website: www.ras.org.uk

RAS PN 09/9: SPACE AND ASTRONOMY DIGEST: MARCH 2009

This release contains a summary of some astronomical, space and geophysical events that will be taking place during March. 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.

7TH MARCH: LAUNCH OF KEPLER MISSION

The Kepler mission to detect planets (including ones similar to the Earth) around other stars is set for launch at 0349 GMT on 7th March (1049 EDT on 6th March in the US) from the Kennedy Space Center, on board a Delta II launch vehicle. During its 3.5-year mission, Kepler will be used to search for planets using the transit method, where a small part of the light of a star is blocked by a planet that passes through the line of sight between the star and the Earth. The spacecraft will observe 100000 stars simultaneously, with the specific aim of detecting Earth-sized and larger planets that orbit their parent stars within the so-called ‘habitable zone’, where the temperature allows water to exist as a liquid.

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

CONTACT
Michael Mewhinney
Science and Science Operations
Office of Public Affairs
NASA Ames Research Center
Tel: +1 650 604 3937
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

10TH MARCH: RAS LUNCHTIME LECTURE: ASTRONOMY AND POETRY: ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY, BURLINGTON HOUSE, LONDON

In the latest public lecture at the Royal Astronomical Society, at 1 pm on 10th March, leading astronomer and President of the Institute of Physics Professor Jocelyn Bell Burnell will discuss the astronomical themes that have caught the attention of poets and how they have handled them.


CONTACT
Robert Massey
(details above)

13TH MARCH: RAS SPECIALIST DISCUSSION MEETING: SOLAR FLARES – 150 YEARS ON FROM THE ‘CARRINGTON’ EVENT: GEOLOGICAL SOCIETY, BURLINGTON HOUSE, LONDON

On 1st September 1859, British astronomer Richard Carrington made the first corroborated observation of a ‘solar flare’, an enormously powerful explosion in the atmosphere of the Sun. Early the following morning, spectacular displays of the aurora borealis were seen across the world, in the first ‘space weather’ event where both cause and effect were recorded.

To commemorate the 150 years since Carrington’s work, on 13th March scientists will gather at the Geological Society in London, where they will present and discuss the latest theoretical and observational research on solar flares and their consequences.

Bona fide members of the media who wish to attend this meeting should present their credentials at the desk for free admission.


CONTACT
Robert Massey (details above)

13TH MARCH: RAS SPECIALIST DISCUSSION MEETING: FAR-INFRARED AND SUB-MM ASTRONOMY: ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY, BURLINGTON HOUSE, LONDON

On 13th March, astronomers will gather at the Royal Astronomical Society to discuss the latest developments in far-infrared and sub-mm astronomy. The delegates will hear results from missions like the AKARI and Spitzer orbiting observatories and consider the prospects for science from future projects like the James Webb Space Telescope.

Bona fide members of the media who wish to attend this meeting should present their credentials at the desk for free admission.


CONTACT
Robert Massey (details above)

16TH – 28TH MARCH: IYA2009: GLOBE AT NIGHT

The fourth international star-counting programme GLOBE at Night will take place from 16th to 28th March. GLOBE at Night is one of the ‘Cornerstone Programmes’ within the International Year of Astronomy (IYA 2009) and is designed to measure the impact of light pollution across the world. Over a 12 day period, thousands of volunteers across the world will assess the quality of their local night sky by counting the number of stars they can see in the constellation of Orion.

FURTHER INFORMATION
http://www.globe.gov/GAN

UK CONTACT
Steve Owens
UK Co-ordinator, IYA2009
c/o Glasgow Science Centre
50 Pacific Quay
Glasgow G51 1EA
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)141 420 5010 x. 299
Mob: +44 (0)771 772 0479
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

26TH MARCH: LAUNCH OF SOYUZ TMA-14 TO INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION

On 26th March, the Russian spacecraft Soyuz TMA-14 is set to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, carrying 2 members of the Expedition 19 crew (Russian Gennady Padalka and American Michael Barratt) to the International Space Station (ISS). Also on board the Soyuz spacecraft will be space tourist Charles Simonyi, who will be making his second paid trip to the ISS.


28TH MARCH – 5TH APRIL: IYA2009: SPRING MOONWATCH

Across the UK, astronomers will be helping thousands of members of the public to look at the Moon during the ‘Spring Moonwatch’ week - from 28th March to 5th April. As the nearest celestial body, the Moon’s features – like craters, mountains and valleys - can be seen in even the smallest telescope but many people have never enjoyed this spectacular sight.

The Moonwatch weeks (two others follow later in the year) aim to bring the Moon to the general public and are amongst the largest scale UK projects taking place during IYA2009, with tens of thousands of people expected to participate.


CONTACT
Steve Owens, UK Co-ordinator, IYA 2009 (see Globe at Night for details)

ALL YEAR: INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF ASTRONOMY 2009 (IYA 2009)

In March there are almost 200 IYA2009 events taking place across the United Kingdom. A comprehensive list can be found at http://www.astronomy2009.co.uk

IYA2009 is endorsed by UNESCO and is now supported by 135 countries under the leadership of the International Astronomical Union (IAU).

Throughout the year, thousands of professional and amateur astronomers will be working with the public as part of a global effort to promote astronomy and its contribution to science and culture. A series of innovative projects will encourage public engagement, from observing sessions at observatories to online blogs, photographic exhibitions and the campaign to combat light pollution.

In the UK, IYA2009 is led by volunteers in amateur astronomical societies, universities, industry, museums and science centres and supported by the Royal Astronomical Society (http://www.ras.org.uk), the Institute of Physics (http://ww.iop.org) and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (http://www.stfc.ac.uk).
 
CONTACT
Steve Owens, UK Co-ordinator, IYA2009 (see Globe at Night for details)

MARCH’S NIGHT SKY

Information on stars, planets, meteor showers and other celestial phenomena is available from the British Astronomical Association (BAA).



NOTES FOR EDITORS

THE ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY

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.