NSAS General Meeting for May; special speaker

13 05 2018

The NSAS General Meeting for May will be on Tuesday the 15th May at 7:30 PM at Regis Hall, Regis Campus, St Ignatius College, Lane Cove.

Our guest speaker is Mark Wardle (Macquarie University) talking about “Star formation within one parsec of the supermassive black hole at the Galactic Centre”. Abstract follows.

As usual, guests are most welcome!

P.S. For those of you who do not know, we are conducting the New Astronomers Group (NAG) course this coming Saturday 19th May. This course is open to members and non-members (fees apply). Tell your friends and relatives about it. Enrolments can be made at https://nsas.org.au/nag/.

Also, there is a members-only viewers night on Saturday 19th May. You can show off your telescope and tell the NAG participants (i.e. potential NSAS members) what a wonderful organisation NSAS is.

Macquarie University is also holding their Astronomy Open Night on Saturday 19th May. NSAS members will be there supporting Macquarie University as well as promoting NSAS.

Cheers
David Wallace

Star formation within one parsec of the supermassive black hole at the Galactic Centre.

Black holes tend to tear anything in their vicinity apart.  This has long been thought to suppress star formation in the immediate surrounds of the supermassive black holes lurking at the centres of galaxies.  But just last year it was discovered that stars are forming in interstellar clouds within 1 pc of Sgr A*, the 4 million solar mass black hole at the centre of the Galaxy.   In this talk I will present our results and discuss their significance for understanding the environment of Sgr A*.





NSAS General Meeting for February; special speaker

3 02 2018

The NSAS General Meeting for February will be on Tuesday the 20th February at 7:30 PM at Regis Hall, Regis Campus, St Ignatius College, Lane Cove.

Our guest speaker is Tara Djokic, a PhD candidate at the School of Astrobiology, UNSW. Her abstract follows.

As usual, guests are most welcome!

David Wallace

P.S. For the observer types, Solar Observing will be on Sunday 4th February (i.e. tomorrow). Member + Visitor Night Observing will be on Saturday 10th February and Memebers-Only Night Observing will be on Saturday 17th February.

Hydrothermal systems, early life on Earth and implications for astrobiology
 
Astrobiology seeks to answer questions regarding the origins and extent of life in the Universe. Geology provides a window in time that offers evidence needed to address these astrobiological questions. The study of ~3.5 billion years old stromatolites from the Pilbara, Western Australia has shown that some of the earliest evidence of life on Earth was thriving in hot springs on land. This evidence provides a geological perspective that may be relevant in origin of life studies, and subsequently for implications in the search for life elsewhere.





No NSAS General Meeting in January

13 01 2018

Dear Fellow Amateur Astronomers,

Please note that there is no North Sydney Astronomical Society General Meeting this month. The next General Meeting will be held on the 20th February.

However, observing is still on. There is a visitor welcome observing night on the Sat 13th Jan (i.e. tonight) and a members only observing night on the Sat 20th Jan. The next solar observing will be on Sun 4th Feb.

Also, there will be a total lunar eclipse on Wed 31st Jan. Stay tuned for more information on this from Phil Angilley, our observation officer.

Cheers
David Wallace





NSAS General Meeting for November; special speaker

10 11 2017

The NSAS General Meeting for November will be on Tuesday the 21st November at 7:30 PM at Regis Hall, Regis Campus, St Ignatius College, Lane Cove.

Our guest speaker is our own Bob Fuller. He will be given a talk on “Did Aboriginal Australians record a simultaneous eclipse and aurorae in their oral traditions?”. An abstract is below.

As usual, guests are most welcome!

David Wallace

P.S. For the observer types, Member + Visitor Night Observing will be on Saturday 11th November (i.e. tomorrow night) and Memebers-Only Night Observing will be on Saturday 18th November.

Abstract: We investigated an Australian Aboriginal cultural story that seems to describe an extraordinary series of astronomical events occurring at the same time. We hypothesised that this was a witnessed natural event and explore natural phenomena that could account for the description. We select a thunderstorm, total solar eclipse, and strong Aurora Australis as the most likely candidates, then conclude a plausible date of 764 CE. We evaluate the different factors that would determine whether all these events could have been visible, include meteorological data, alternative total solar eclipse dates, solar activity cycles, aurorae appearances, and sky brightness during total solar eclipses. We conduct this study as a test-case for rigorously and systematically examining descriptions of rare natural phenomena in oral traditions, highlighting the difficulties and challenges with interpreting this type of hypothesis.





NSAS General Meeting for September; special speaker

9 09 2017

The NSAS General Meeting for August will be on Tuesday the 19th September at 7:30 PM at Regis Hall, Regis Campus, St Ignatius College, Lane Cove.

Our guest speaker is Dr Kyler Kuehn from AAO, who will update us on Starbugs and the TAIPAN instrument, which are now in operation.

As usual, guests are most welcome!

P.S. For the observer types, Solar Observing will be on Sunday 10th September, Visitor Night Observing will be on Saturday 16th September and Memebers-Only Night Observing will be on Saturday 23th August.

Dave W.

 

Abstract: Spectroscopic observations of stars and galaxies often show us much more than we can learn from simple images, though they often require significantly longer observations.  One way to make spectroscopy more efficient is to observe many objects at once through a long slit or with numerous independent fibres.  I will describe Starbugs, a robotic optical fibre positioning system that facilitates the observation of hundreds of stars or galaxies simultaneously.  I will also describe the science and engineering of TAIPAN, an instrument currently undergoing commissioning on the UK Schmidt Telescope at Siding Spring Observatory, and the first instrument to make use of the novel Starbug technology.





NSAS General Meeting for August; special speaker

3 08 2017

The NSAS General Meeting for August will be on Tuesday the 15th August at 7:30 PM at Regis Hall, Regis Campus, St Ignatius College, Lane Cove.

Our guest speaker is Christine Lynch from USyd.

“My talk will be about using MHz-frequency radio telescopes (like the Murchison Widefield Array) to search for radio emission from exoplanets and what that radio emission can tell us about exoplanets.”

As usual, guests are most welcome!

Title: Characterising stellar and planetary magnetic fields via low-frequency radio astronomy

Abstract:

Establishing what criteria define habitability is essential for determining the potential for life outside the Solar System. Traditionally, a planet is considered habitable if it is orbiting within the circumstellar region  that makes possible the existence of liquid water on the planet’s surface. However, an equally important factor in determining habitability is the stability of a planet’s atmosphere, which regulates its surface temperature. Intense stellar magnetic activity can erode the planet’s atmosphere. Strong planetary magnetic fields may mitigate the impact of the stellar magnetic activity. Thus to evaluate a planet’s habitability, the magnetic fields of both star and planet must be considered. M dwarf stars are of particular interest as they are currently favoured as most likely to host habitable, nearby exoplanets. Yet the extreme magnetic activity observed for some M dwarf stars places some doubt on the ability of orbiting exoplanets to host life. Radio observations uniquely provide direct measurements of the magnetic field strengths associated with stars and planets. New wide-field, low frequency radio telescopes will probe a frequency regime that is mostly unexplored for many magnetically active stars and where exoplanets are expected to produce radio emission. In this talk I’ll present my latest results using the Murchison Widefield Array, a low frequency radio telescope located in Western Australia, to constrain the magnetic activity of star-planet systems.





NSAS General Meeting for July; special speaker

9 07 2017

The NSAS General Meeting for July will be on Tuesday the 18th July at 7:30 PM at Regis Hall, Regis Campus, St Ignatius College, Lane Cove.

Our guest speaker is Stuart Ryder from the AAO.
 
Title: A Night on SOFIA

Abstract: In 2016 I had the rare opportunity to fly on NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), a Boeing 747 with a 2.5m telescope that flies above 40,000 ft and most of the atmospheric water vapour that absorbs far-infrared radiation. In this talk I will outline what it took to get SOFIA off the ground, and give an inside look at what observing with the world’s only flying telescope is like.

As usual, guests are most welcome!