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Space and astronomy digest: August 2015

Last Updated on Thursday, 30 July 2015 10:34
Published on Thursday, 30 July 2015 10:34

The August digest of upcoming space and astronomy news events. This month sees the General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union, the annual maximum of the Perseids meteor shower and the launch of the HTV-5 vehicle to the International Space Station.


3-14 August: IAU XXIX General Assembly, Honolulu, Hawaii


3 to 14 August will see the triennial meeting – the General Assembly or GA – of the International Astronomical Union in Honolulu, Hawaii. More than 2500 astronomers are expected to attend the GA, making it one of the largest astronomy conferences in the world. Over the two weeks, the GA will include scientific sessions covering the gamut of astronomy, together with a full programme of activities for the public.

The IAU offers free registration to bona fide members of the media. Full details including a registration form can be seen at



Lars Lindberg Christensen
IAU Press Officer
Garching bei München, Germany
Mob: +49 173 38 72 621
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Andrea Lum
Bennet Group
Tel: +1 808 286 9569
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12-13 August: Maximum of Perseids meteor shower


The evening of 12 August and the morning of 13 August see this year’s maximum of the annual Perseids meteor shower. 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 109 P/Swift-Tuttle, which last passed near the Earth in 1992. This shower of meteors appears to originate from a 'radiant' point in the constellation of Perseus, hence the name Perseid.

perseid vlt smallA Perseid meteor (at left) seen in August 2010 above the four enclosures of the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope at Paranal, Chile. Credit: ESO / S. Guisard. Click for a full size imageThe shower is active this year from around 17 July to 24 August, although for most of that period only a few meteors an hour will be visible. From the UK the best time to see the Perseid shower is likely to be on the evening of 12 August and into the morning of 13 August, when as many as 60 meteors an hour may be seen. This year prospects for the shower are excellent as the Moon is new on 14 August, meaning it will not interfere with the view.






16 August: Launch of HTV-5 to International Space Station, Tanegashima Space Center, Japan


Kounotori 5 or HTV-5, an uncrewed Japanese cargo vehicle, is set to launch on 16 August in a supply mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The spacecraft will take off from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan, atop an H-2B rocket, and will carry a payload including cubesats and a Mouse Habitat Unit to provide accommodation for up to six mice for up to six months.


Night sky in August


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.


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 3800 members (Fellows), a third based overseas, include scientific researchers in universities, observatories and laboratories as well as historians of astronomy and others.

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