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.

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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!





NSAS General Meeting for June; special speaker

5 06 2017

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

Our guest speaker is Chris Lidman from AAO, and he’ll be talking about the Dark Energy Survey.

“Ever since the discovery of the accelerating universe 20 years ago, astronomers have been trying to understand the reasons for the acceleration by undertaking ever more detailed surveys of the cosmos. The Dark Energy Survey is the latest, and currently, largest survey of this type.  In this talk, I will provide an overview of the Dark Energy Survey, present some preliminary results, and discuss some of the even larger surveys that astronomers are planning to undertake in the near future.”

As usual, guests are most welcome!





NSAS General Meeting for May; special speaker

1 05 2017

The NSAS General Meeting for May will be on Tuesday the 16th May at 7:30 PM at Regis Hall, Regis Campus, St Ignatius College, Lane Cove.

Our guest speaker is Glenn Davis from Francis Lord Optical, who will talking to us about the optics done by them for LIGO.

“Back in September 2015 Gravitational Waves were recorded for the first time, and verified the following February. The instrument that recorded the signal is called LIGO.
What few people  realise,  is that all the optics were manufactured in Australia by the CSIRO.
Glenn Davis who was one of the 13 people working on the project, will be talking about how these optics were  fabricated to such high tolerances!”

As usual, guests are most welcome!

 





NSAS General Meeting for April; special speaker

5 04 2017

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

Our speaker is Luke Tscharke, Night Sky Astrophotographer, who will show his work and describe the techniques.

“In my presentation I will be discussing wide field astrophotography and nightscapes. I will cover the following aspects:
• The equipment I use to capture my images
• Top locations in Australian for wide field astrophotography images
• Safety tips for shooting in the dark
• Camera settings for a wide field astrophotography shoot
• Planning for a wide field astrophotography shoot, including a demo of the apps I use for the planning”

As usual, guests are most welcome!