Space and astronomy digest: August 2009 (RAS PN 09/49)
The August digest of forthcoming space and astronomy events, from the RAS. This month sees the International Astronomical Union's triennial General Assembly in Rio de Janeiro, the latest Shuttle mission to assemble the International Space Station and the maximum of the Perseid meteor shower.
ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY PRESS INFORMATION NOTE
SPACE AND ASTRONOMY DIGEST: AUGUST 2009
Ref.: RAS PN 09/49
Date: 2nd August 2009
For immediate release
Dr Robert Massey
Press and Policy Officer
Royal Astronomical Society
London W1J 0BQ
Tel: +44 (0)20 7734 3307
Mob: +44 (0)794 124 8035
SPACE AND ASTRONOMY DIGEST: AUGUST 2009 (RAS PN 09/49)
This release contains a summary of some space and astronomy events that will be taking place during August. 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.
3RD – 14TH AUGUST: XXVII GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE INTERNATIONAL ASTRONOMICAL UNION, RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL
More than 2000 astronomers from across the globe will gather for the 27th General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union (IAU), taking place in Rio de Janeiro from the 3rd to the 14th of August.
In more than 30 sessions, the General Assembly, one of the largest astronomy conferences in the world, will cover scientific topics from the Sun and planets to black holes, dark matter and whether the fundamental physical constants change with time. The scientists will also debate resolutions on themes including the ongoing International Year of Astronomy, light pollution and how to improve the representation of women in astronomy and space science.
IAU General Assembly
Guide to meeting including details of resolutions to be put to General Assembly (see pp. 42-50)
Dr Lars Lindberg Christensen
IAU Press Officer
Mobile: +49 173 38 72 621
12TH AUGUST: MAXIMUM OF PERSEID METEOR SHOWER
The annual Perseid meteor shower is expected to peak on the 12th of August. Meteors (popularly known as ‘shooting stars’) are the result of small particles entering the Earth’s atmosphere at high speed. In this case the material comes from the tail of Comet Swift-Tuttle, which last passed near the Earth in 1992. This shower of meteors appears to originate from a ‘radiant’ in the constellation of Perseus, hence the name Perseid.
From the UK the best times to see the Perseid shower are likely to be on the morning of 12th August before dawn and from late evening on the 12th through to early morning on the 13th August. This year light from the last quarter Moon will interfere significantly with the view and the British Astronomical Association (BAA) suggests that the best time to see the meteors may be late in the night, facing away from the Moon.
BAA sky notes (August and September)
Robert Massey (details above)
25TH AUGUST: LAUNCH OF SPACE SHUTTLE DISCOVERY
At 0636 BST (0136 EDT) on the 25th August the window opens for the launch of the NASA Space Shuttle Discovery to the International Space Station (ISS). Discovery will carry a crew of seven astronauts, the Italian-built Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module and various spares. Astronaut Nicole Stott will remain on the ISS and Timothy Kopra will board the Shuttle to return to Earth.
NASA HQ, Washington, USA
Tel: +1 202 358 0602
Johnson Space Center, Houston, USA
Tel: +1 281 483 5111
ALL YEAR: INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF ASTRONOMY 2009 (IYA 2009)
In August IYA2009 events will take 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).
All through 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://www.iop.org) and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (http://www.stfc.ac.uk).
UK Co-ordinator, IYA2009
c/o Glasgow Science Centre
50 Pacific Quay
Glasgow G51 1EA
Tel: +44 (0)141 420 5010 x. 299
Mob: +44 (0)771 772 0479
AUGUST’S NIGHT SKY
Information on stars, planets, meteor showers, eclipses and other celestial phenomena is available from the British Astronomical Association (BAA).
Sky notes (August and September)
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.