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*.





Guest Speaker – 17th April

10 04 2018

Folks,

I am Very pleased to inform you of Mr John Mills as VIP Speaker for the 17 April Monthly Meeting.

Title: Telescopes for the Modern Astronomer

Abstract : “The current rise of quality optics at an affordable price has brought Telescopes within the reach of everyone, but how do you decide what is best for you and your lifestyle, the answer is easier than you think ….”

John’s Background

John’s career is over 10 years of customer and Logistics service in various blue chip companies – Siemens/Fujitsu and Apple both here Australia and the UK.

His current career is Business development manager at Bintel in Sydney supporting the Astronomers across the communities of Australia to ‘View’ or ‘Photograph’ the Night Sky.

John’s Astronomy hobby started properly in a small town in the North of England when he was 17 and joined my first Astronomy club.

John believes that currently what would be best described as an ‘Astro-imager’ and a little bit geeky when it comes to applying technology towards imaging.

Finally John will talk briefly on a new proposed Group on Astrophotography and Imaging for NSAS.

Sincerely, Krishan Anand

P.S. Visitors are most welcome.





NSAS General Meeting for March; special speaker

12 03 2018

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

Our guest speaker is Prof Orsola de Marco from Macquarie Uni Astrophysics. Abstract follows.

As usual, guests are most welcome!

Cheers
David Wallace

The common envelope binary interaction, a “grand challenge” problem.

When a star grows to giant size it can engulf a nearby companion orbiting it. This interaction leads to the shrinking of the orbital separation and the creation of either a compact binary or a merged star. Since the 70s we have hypothesised these interactions to give rise to compact binaries such as cataclysmic variables of X-ray binaries and to binaries that later on merge, giving rise to supernovae Ia and gravitational wave emission. Today, thanks to the advent of time-resolved astronomy on large scales, we have observed several common envelope interactions (which are fast, happening on day-month timescales) and we are therefore in a position to test our models. Here I will present the latest modelling efforts, the challenges and the benefits. I will also present a special class of common envelope interactions, happening between a star and its planetary system.





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.





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 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!