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RAS PN05/42: October 2005 Space & Astronomy Digest

Last Updated on Monday, 30 January 2006 10:55
Published on Thursday, 29 September 2005 00:00
This release contains a summary of some significant astronomical and space events that will be taking place during October, including the launches of Venus Express and Cryosat, the close approach of Mars, a partial/annular eclipse of the Sun, the launch of the 12th expedition to the International Space Station, and the launch of two Chinese astronauts.


1 OCTOBER: LAUNCH OF EXPEDITION 12 AND SPACE TOURIST TO INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION
The 12th long-term crew to occupy the International Space Station will be launched on board a Soyuz rocket from Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, at 4:54 BST on 1 October. Their Soyuz TMA-7 spacecraft will dock with the Pirs docking port on the Station at 6:20 BST on 3 October.
    The six-month-plus stay of Expedition 12 will focus on Station assembly preparations, maintenance and science in microgravity. The commander is William McArthur, 54, a retired Army colonel. Cosmonaut Valery Tokarev, 52, a Russian Air Force colonel, will serve as flight engineer and Soyuz commander. 
     McArthur is making his fourth flight into space. Tokarev visited the Station on his previous spaceflight, a Shuttle mission in 1999. With them will be scientist and businessman Dr. Gregory Olsen, 60, who will spend eight days on the Station under a contract with Roscosmos, the Russian Federal Space Agency. He will be the third private citizen to spend time on the Station. 
    McArthur and Tokarev will spend more than a week with their predecessors, Expedition 11 Commander Sergei Krikalev and NASA Science Officer John Phillips. The Expedition 11 crew will then return to Earth with Olsen on board Soyuz TMA-6.
 
CONTACT
Stacey Tearne
Space Adventures, Ltd.
Tel: +1-703-524-7172 ext. 544
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
FURTHER INFORMATION
NASA Expedition 12 web site:
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/expedition12/index.html

Space Adventures Olsen web site:
http://www.spaceadventures.com/orbit
 
 
1 OCTOBER: MAGNIFICENT DESOLATION AND SPACE DAY
The National Museum of Photography, Film & Television, Bradford, will be holding a Space Day to launch the new IMAX film, “Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon”. The day will include archive displays from the photography and film collection, workshops, talks and other family activities about space exploration.
CONTACT 
National Museum of Photography
Tel. +44 (0)870-701-0200
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .
 
FURTHER INFORMATION:
http://www.imax.com/magnificentdesolation/
www.nmpft.org.uk/imax/diary.asp?d=1&m=10&y=2005 
 
 
3 OCTOBER: ANNULAR ECLIPSE OF THE SUN
The Moon will pass across the face of the Sun on Monday, 3 October. It will be seen as an annular eclipse in parts of Spain, Portugal, and north and east Africa. The eclipse will be partial across all of Europe (including the UK), most of Africa, and much of South Asia.
     For UK observers, the eclipse will begin at about 7:50 GMT and end at around 10:15 GMT. Maximum eclipse, when more than half of the Sun will be hidden, will occur at about 9:00 GMT. (Times vary slightly according to location.) As seen from the UK, the Moon will appear to have eaten a large chunk of the western (right) side of the Sun.
The centre of the Moon’s shadow will first touch Earth at sunrise in the Atlantic. It crosses the Iberian Peninsula in early morning, crosses the Sahara and east Africa during the middle of the day, and leaves Earth at sunset in the Indian Ocean. 
     During an annular eclipse, the dark circle of the Moon is surrounded by a bright ring of the Sun’s surface. The Moon, being near the apogee of its orbit (farthest from Earth), will appear only 96 per cent as wide as the Sun. As a result, the
maximum duration of annularity will be 4 minutes 31 seconds — when the Sun is high overhead in central Sudan. 
     NOTE THAT IT IS EXTREMELY DANGEROUS TO ATTEMPT TO OBSERVE AN ECLIPSE OF THE SUN WITH THE NAKED EYE (EVEN WEARING SUNGLASSES) OR USING ANY AID, SUCH AS A CAMERA, BINOCULARS OR TELESCOPE. 
    The safest and most inexpensive way to observe a partial solar eclipse is by projection, when a pinhole or small opening is used to cast the image of the Sun on a white card placed a half-metre or so beyond the opening. Binoculars can also be used to project a magnified image of the Sun on a white card, but they must NOT be used for direct viewing.
 
FURTHER INFORMATION
Sky & Telescope:
http://skyandtelescope.com/observing/objects/eclipses/article_1593_1.asp
 
NASA eclipse site:
http://sunearth.gsfc.nasa.gov/eclipse/SEmono/ASE2005/ASE2005.html
 
Eclipse safety:
http://sunearth.gsfc.nasa.gov/eclipse/SEhelp/safety.html
 
 
4-10 OCTOBER: WORLD SPACE WEEK
UK Space Week activities include:
3-7 October: Discovery and Imagination using Image Manipulation
Students visiting Queen’s University, Belfast, will hear presentations on Earth Observation and our place in the Universe, use the European Space Agency Earth Observation portal and manipulate images of Belfast and surrounding areas. They will also be able to remotely control the Hawaii-based Faulkes Telescope to obtain images of celestial objects.
Contact: Robert Hill, Armagh Planetarium, Tel: +44 (0)28-3752-3689
 
4-10 October: Space Bookcrossing
Bookcrossers around the world will be celebrating World Space Week by releasing space and science-fiction books for others to find.
Web: www.wsw-bc.bookcrossing.com
Contact:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
6 October (National Poetry Day) A Poem for Space
Choose the poem you’d like to see launched into space to be discovered by whatever creatures should find it, far in the future.
Web: http://www.poetrysociety.org.uk/npd/npdpoll.htm
 
15 October: The Science Of Aliens
The Science of Aliens is a new exhibition at the Science Museum, London. The exhibition opens on 15 October with a preview day on 14 October.
Web:  http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/exhibitions/aliens/index.asp
Media enquiries: Rob Lowe, Freud communications, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Tel: +44 (0)207-291-6413
 
CONTACT FOR UK WORLD SPACE WEEK
SPACE EDUCATION COUNCIL
6 Borough Road, Kingston Upon Thames
Surrey KT2 6BD
Tel/Fax: +44 (0)208-974-8006
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
FURTHER INFORMATION ON UK WORLD SPACE WEEK
http://www.secuk.org/projects/wsw/UKWSW2005Events.html
 
 
8 OCTOBER: LAUNCH OF CRYOSAT TO MEASURE MELTING POLAR ICE
The European Space Agency’s CryoSat is scheduled for launch from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in northern Russia at 16:02 BST on 8 October. In a first for ESA, CryoSat will be launched by a Russian Rockot vehicle - a converted SS-19 ballistic missile with an additional Breeze-KM upper stage.
    CryoSat will be the first Earth Explorer mission to be launched as part of ESA’s Living Planet Programme. From a near-polar orbit at an altitude of about 720 km, the satellite will provide complete coverage of the Arctic and Antarctic Oceans. measure small changes in the thickness of polar ice sheets and floating sea ice.
    Cryosat’s main payload is the SIRAL radar altimeter, the first sensor of its kind to be optimised for operation over ice. It is capable of measuring very small differences in height between the sea ice surface and the surrounding water. 
    Through continuous observation over a period of years, a picture of the fluctuations in the sea ice can be built up, with the aim of determining whether or not the ice masses are melting due to a changing climate. 
    Duncan Wingham (Professor of Climate Physics at University College London, and Director of the NERC Centre for Polar Observation & Modelling) is the ‘Lead Investigator’ on the CryoSat mission.  Prof. Wingham led the CryoSat proposal, which was selected ahead of 30 other proposed missions. He is responsible for the scientific outcome of the mission, and the science data processing system that has been constructed at University College London.
 
CONTACT
Prof. Duncan Wingham
Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling
University College London
Gower St, London, WC1E 6BT
Tel: +44 (0)207-679-3677
Fax: +44 (0)207-679-7883
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
FURTHER INFORMATION
ESA Cryosat web site:
http://www.esa.int/cryosat
 
Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling (CPOM), UCL:
http://www.cpom.org/
 
BNSC press release:
http://www.bnsc.gov.uk/default.aspx?nid=3872
 
 
11 OCTOBER (?): SHENZHOU 6 – CHINA’S SECOND MANNED SPACEFLIGHT
The launch of Shenzhou 6, China’s second manned spaceflight, will reportedly take place on 11 October 2005. A Long March 2F rocket will deliver two yuhangyuans (astronauts) to Earth orbit for a flight that will last 5 – 7 days. During the flight, the crew will enter the craft’s orbital module for the first time – in contrast to the first manned mission in 2003, when the single astronaut remained inside the return capsule. Conditions for the crew are also reported to be more comfortable than Shenzhou 5, with heated food, sleeping bags and essential sanitary equipment. 
     Four yuhangyuan names have appeared on various web sites for the prime and back-up crews; these are Nie Haishen, Zhai Zhigang (who were in the final training group for Shenzhou 5), Li Qinglong and Wu Jie. 
 
FURTHER INFORMATION
Go Taikonauts web site:
http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/Launchpad/1921/index.htm
 
Space.com:
http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/050907_shenzhou6_update.html
 
Spaceflight Now:
http://www.spaceflightnow.com/news/n0503/06shenzhou6/
 
 
14 OCTOBER: RAS SPECIALIST DISCUSSION MEETING - SCIENCE FROM LA PALMA BEYOND 2009
Geological Society Lecture Theatre, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1, 10:30-15:30
2009 marks the 30th anniversary of the international agreement to set up the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on the island of La Palma. In 2007, the UK will have to make a decision on whether or not to withdraw from that agreement. PPARC, through its ownership of the Isaac Newton Group (ING) of Telescopes, has the responsibility of deciding on the UK’s involvement in the observatory beyond 2009. As part of the decision making process, and in support of the UK’s overall strategic re-evaluation in astronomy, the ING is being reviewed during 2005. This meeting will assess recent scientific achievements from the Roque de los Muchachos, and consider what role the observatory might have beyond 2009.

PROGRAMME AND FURTHER INFORMATION
http://www.ing.iac.es/~cje/LPA2009.html
 
CONTACTS
Prof. Janet Drew
Imperial College London
Tel: +44 (0)208-594-7553
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
Dr. Danny Lennon
Isaac Newton Group
La Palma, Canary Islands
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
Dr. Chris Evans
Isaac Newton Group
La Palma, Canary Islands
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


14 OCTOBER: RAS SPECIALIST DISCUSSION MEETING - CONNECTING THE SUN TO THE EARTH
Society of Antiquaries Lecture Theatre, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1, 10:30-15:30
It is known that the Sun has a significant impact on the near-Space environment of the Earth. However, direct causal links between events on the Sun and those observed close to Earth are not well understood. For example, accurate prediction of space weather effects is still a distant goal. ESA’s Solar Orbiter mission, with an expected launch of 2013, will allow us to address this problem through a payload providing both remote sensing observations of the Sun and in situ observations of the solar wind at distances of only 30 million km. The success of this mission will depend on the expertise of the solar physics and space plasma physics communities. This RAS discussion meeting is intended to promote the links between the two communities and provide some groundwork for the critical bridge between remote sensing and in situ measurements.
 
PROGRAMME AND FURTHER INFORMATION
http://www.mssl.ucl.ac.uk/www_solar/ras_discussion05.html
 
CONTACTS
Dr. Louise Harra
Mullard Space Science Laboratory-UCL
Tel: +44 (0)1483-204141
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
Dr. Chris Owen
Mullard Space Science Laboratory-UCL
Tel: 01483-278312
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
 
14 OCTOBER: RAS ORDINARY MEETING
Geological Society Lecture Theatre, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1, 16:00 – 18:00
The following presentations will be made:
* The Gold Medal in Astronomy to Geoffrey & Margaret Burbidge;
* The Price Medal to Gill Foulger;
* The Eddington Medal to Rudolf Kippenhahn;
* The RAS Award for Service to Astronomy to Guy Hurst;
* The RAS Award for Service to Geophysics to Alan Douglas.
Talks will include:
* Prof. Jim Emerson - Opportunities with VISTA (Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy) - the world’s most powerful astronomical survey telescope which will be located at Cerro Paranal Observatory in the Atacama Desert, Chile.
* Prof. Gillian Foulger - Hot Spots and the Mantle Plume Controversy – the ongoing debate over the origins of “hot spot” volcanoes, located far from tectonic plate margins.
 
 
15 OCTOBER: 2ND UK SPACE MEDICINE DAY
The conference at the National Space Centre, Leicester, will consist of lectures from National and International Space Medicine experts on topics as diverse as Health Considerations for Extra-Vehicular Activity, Physiological Parameters and Spacecraft Design, and Health Hazards of Lunar Dust and Medical Considerations for a Mission to Mars.
 
CONTACT 
Dr Alyson Calder
Hairmyres Hospital, Eaglesham Road
East Kilbride G75 8RG
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
PROGRAMME
http://www.acc.co.uk/raes/space/051015_Calder.htm
 
 
17 OCTOBER 2005: A SHALLOW PARTIAL ECLIPSE OF THE MOON
A shallow partial eclipse of the Moon will take place on 17 October, when the Moon’s southern limb dips just 2.2 arc-minutes into Earth’s dark umbral shadow.
The entire ‘grazing’ event will be visible over most of the Pacific basin, but it will not be visible over Europe, Africa and most of South America. North Americans will all see the start of the event, but the Moon sets by mid-eclipse for observers east of the Mississippi River and Great Lakes.
The major phases of the eclipse are:
Penumbral Eclipse Begins:   09:51:25 GMT
Partial Eclipse Begins:   11:33:59 GMT
Greatest Eclipse:   12:03:18 GMT
Partial Eclipse Ends:   12:32:26 GMT
Penumbral Eclipse Ends:   14:15:08 GMT
 
FURTHER INFORMATION
Sky & Telescope:
http://skyandtelescope.com/observing/objects/eclipses/article_1596_1.asp
 
NASA eclipse site:
http://sunearth.gsfc.nasa.gov/eclipse/OH/OH2005.html#LE2005Oct17P
 
 
18 OCTOBER: CHANCE ENCOUNTER WITH A BLACK HOLE
On Tuesday, 18 October, Ken Pounds, Professor of Space Physics at the University of Leicester and former President of the Royal Astronomical Society, will be speaking at the Royal Institution, London. The event will take place 7 - 8.30 pm. 
     The existence of black holes of many sizes is now well established and much information on these enigmatic objects has been obtained by telescopes operating at X-ray energies. Prof. Pounds is a pioneer in X-ray astronomy and has worked on a variety of international space missions studying the giant black holes lurking in the centre of many, perhaps all, galaxies. Looking back on a career spanning the first decades of space science, he will recount the emerging evidence for black holes and review the latest results, while giving an insight into the drives and motivations that led to his life in science.
 
FURTHER INFORMATION
The Royal Institution of Great Britain
21 Albemarle Street
London W1S 4BS
Tel: (+44) 0207-409-2992   or (+44) 0207-629-3569
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
 
21 OCTOBER: Young Scientists’ Planetary Meeting
Society of Antiquaries Lecture Theatre, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1, 10:30-15:30
This meeting, organised by the UK Planetary Forum committee, is aimed at junior planetary scientists (PhD students and recent post-docs of any age). The aim of this event, now in its third year, is to enable junior scientists to meet, learn about planetary work done in the UK, share experiences and explore possible collaborations. An 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.
 
CONTACTS
Dr. Ingo Mueller-Wodarg
Tel: +44 (0)207-594-7674
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
Dr. Andrew Ball
Tel: +44 (0)1908-659596
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
Dr. Tom Stallard
Tel: +44 (0)207-679-9014
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
 
26 OCTOBER: LAUNCH OF VENUS EXPRESS
Venus Express, the European Space Agency’s first mission to the second planet from the Sun, is scheduled for launch by a Russian Soyuz-Fregat launcher from Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, on 26 October. 
    After a journey of about five months, Venus Express will be inserted into a polar, elliptical orbit around the cloud-shrouded planet in April 2006. Over a period of around 1,000 days (more than 4 Venus years), its seven instruments will study the planet’s surface, atmosphere and near-space environment. Particular emphasis will be placed on understanding the dense, pressure-cooker-like atmosphere, the volcano-driven cloud chemistry and complex meteorological behaviour (including high-level winds that sweep around the planet in only 4 days). 
    The spacecraft has been developed in a very short time and at a low cost for such a complex mission. This ‘Express’ achievement was made possible by reusing the design of the Mars Express spacecraft and basing many of its instruments on spares that were previously developed for Mars Express and the Rosetta comet mission.
    Venus is the Earth’s nearest planetary neighbour. In terms of size and mass, Venus is Earth’s twin and yet it has evolved in a radically different manner, with a surface temperature hotter than a kitchen oven and a dense, choking carbon dioxide atmosphere. 
    UK scientists were involved in planning the mission and there is British involvement in five of the instruments. 
 
CONTACTS:
Professor Fred W. Taylor
Halley Professor of Physics
Dept. of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics
Oxford University
Oxford OX1 3PU
Tel.: +44 (0)1865-272903
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
Dr. Andrew Coates,
Co-investigator in the Aspera team
MSSL–UCL
Holmbury St. Mary, Dorking
Surrey RH5 6NT
Tel: +44 (0)1483-204145
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
Prof. Manuel Grande
Co-investigator in the Aspera team
Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
Chilton, Didcot
Oxon OX11 0QX
Tel.: +44 (0)1235-446501
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
FURTHER INFORMATION
ESA Venus Express web sites:
http://sci.esa.int/venusexpress   and
http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Venus_Express/index.html
 
Bill Arnett’s Nine Planets web site:
http://www.nineplanets.org/venus.html
 
 
30 OCTOBER: MARS IS CLOSEST TO EARTH
The planet Mars will be at its closest to Earth at 3:24 GMT on 30 October, when it will be 69.42 million km (43.14 million ml) away. Although Mars will not appear as large in a telescope as it did in August 2003, it will still have a diameter of 20.2 arc seconds – the largest it will appear from Earth until the summer of 2018. This is equivalent to the angular diameter of a volleyball one mile away. When viewed with a telescope at 80x magnification, Mars will appear as large as the Full Moon seen with the naked eye.
    This is quite a favourable opposition, since the planet will be high in the sky for northern observers, in the constellation of Aries. Shining at magnitude -2.3, it will be brighter than everything in the night sky apart from the Moon and Venus. The planet will appear as a brilliant reddish star that gradually changes position each night against the background stars. It will remain bright for the remainder of the year.
    Although Mars reaches opposition – when it is directly opposite the Sun in the sky - at 8:20 GMT on 7 November, it will then be slightly farther from Earth than it was at closest approach. At opposition Mars rises at sunset and is highest in the sky an hour after midnight. 
    While the orbit of Earth around the Sun is very nearly circular, the orbit of Mars is not. During opposition, when the Earth and Mars lie in line with the Sun, the distance between the two planets may vary considerably from year to year depending on Mars' position in its orbit. If Mars comes to opposition when it is farthest from the Sun (at aphelion), then it will lie 61 million miles from Earth. But if Mars reaches opposition when it is closest to the Sun (at perihelion), it will lie only 34.6 million miles from Earth.
 
FURTHER INFORMATION
The 2005-2006 Apparition of Mars (Jeffrey Beish):
http://www.tnni.net/~dustymars/Article_2005.htm
 
British Astronomical Association:
http://www.britastro.org/mars/obs2005.htm
 
Bill Arnett’s Nine Planets web site:
http://www.nineplanets.org/mars.html


NOTE FOR EDITORS:
This release contains a summary of some significant astronomical and space events that will be taking place during October. It 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.