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Space and astronomy digest: June 2013

Last Updated on Saturday, 01 June 2013 10:09
Published on Saturday, 01 June 2013 09:53

The June digest of upcoming space and astronomy news events. This month sees the 222nd meeting of the American Astronomical Society and the launches of the ESA Automated Transfer Vehicle 'Albert Einstein' and the NASA Interface Region Imaging Spacecraft (IRIS) mission.



2-6 June: 222nd meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS), Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

The 222nd meeting of the AAS will take place at the Indiana Convention Centre, Indianapolis, from 2-6 June. The conference is one of the largest global meetings of astronomers and brings together scientists from all over the world to present and discuss the latest research in fields from planets in orbit around other stars to the evolution and fate of the universe.

Full details of the conference are at

The AAS offers free registration to bona fide working journalists and public information officers. See for details.

Contact (for registration enquiries)

Dr Rick Fienberg
AAS Press Officer and Education and Outreach Coordinator
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5 June: Launch of Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV 4) 'Albert Einstein' from Kourou spaceport, French Guiana

The launch of the latest robotic European Space Agency (ESA) mission to bring supplies to the International Space Station (ISS) is scheduled for 5 June. The cargo will be carried to the ISS by the fourth Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV-4), named 'Albert Einstein' after the world's most famous physicist and will be launched atop an Ariane V rocket from the ESA spaceport in French Guiana. Albert Einstein will be the heaviest ever payload for an Ariane launcher, with a cargo mass of 20,235 kg. Items on board include food, fuel, oxygen, water and equipment for the six astronauts currently living on the Space Station.

After launch the ATV should take around 10 days to reach the ISS with docking expected on 15 June. After the cargo is loaded on to the Space Station, astronauts will then fill the empty vehicle with waste. After six months the ATV will be undocked and directed to burn up in the Earth's atmosphere.


ESA headquarters
Paris, France
Tel: +33 (0)1 5369 7299
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26/27 June: Launch of Interface Region Imaging Spacecraft (IRIS), Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, USA

The NASA Interface Region Imaging Spacecraft (IRIS) is scheduled for launch at 0227 GMT on 27 June (0327 BST on 27 June, 2227 PDT on 26 June). IRIS will be carried into space by a Pegasus XL rocket that lifts off from a fixed-wing aircraft that will take off from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in the United States.

iris smallAn artist's impression of the Interface Region Imaging Spacecraft (IRIS) in orbit. Credit: NASA. Click for a larger imageOnce in orbit, IRIS will be used to study the solar chromosphere, the region above the Sun's bright visible surface or photosphere. The spacecraft will use a high-speed, high-resolution instrument to obtain a spectrum and image of the Sun every second, allowing scientists to observe the rapidly changing phenomena that characterise our nearest star.

IRIS at Goddard

Susan Hendrix
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Tel: +1 301 286 7745
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Night sky in June

Information on stars, planets, comets, meteor showers and other celestial phenomena is available from the British Astronomical Association (BAA), the Society for Popular Astronomy (SPA) and the Jodrell Bank night sky guide.



The Night Sky: Jodrell Bank


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 3500 members (Fellows), a third based overseas, include scientific researchers in universities, observatories and laboratories as well as historians of astronomy and others.

Follow the RAS on Twitter via @royalastrosoc