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The ASNSW holds two meetings in most months, on Friday evenings nearest Full Moon. At least one of the meetings will have a guest speaker who is a professional astronomer or other qualified specialist, discussing leading-edge developments in astronomy. The other meeting sometimes has members making presentations of their own observations, research or activities. In 2017, one general meeting is scheduled, also on a Friday night: the Annual General Meeting (25th August 2017). The Astroimaging Section meets separately, with meeting information on the Astroimaging & Committee Meetings page.

List of Past Speakers

Forthcoming Meetings
 | February 2017 | March 2017 | April 2017 | May 2017 | June 2017 | July 2017 | August 2017 | September 2017 | October 2017 | November 2017 |

Friday 3rd February 2017 - 8:00pm
Topic: Stellar Spectra
Speaker: Lesa Moore, ASNSW
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
Abstract: This talk will discuss colours seen in the spectra of stars, production of the spectrum and the features in it, and classification of stars based on their spectra. Sample gratings will be available for examination and use and, weather permitting, some star viewing will take place using the speaker's telescope.
Biography: Lesa Moore has been an amateur astronomer and member of the Astronomical Society of NSW (ASNSW) since 1986. Her astronomical activities have included running courses in basic astronomy and working at three public-access observatories: Koolang Observatory (1992-2010), Macquarie University Observatory (2002-2009) and Sydney Observatory (2008-2014). She made a gradual transition into professional astronomy through her studies at Macquarie University. She attained an honours degree in 2003 and completed a Master of Philosophy in Astronomy in 2008. For five years, Lesa lectured in physics to nurses and environmental science students at the Australian Catholic University, North Sydney. Currently, Lesa enjoys education and public outreach activities with Princess Cruises, Tara Anglican School for Girls and the ASNSW.

Friday 10th February 2017 - 8:00pm
Topic: The Planet Mercury
Speaker: Andrew James, ASNSW
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
Abstract: Although known since ancient times, our overall knowledge of the small rose-coloured planet, Mercury, has until recently been quite incomplete. This nearest planet to the Sun, is often visually difficult to see, as it is usually placed near to the east or west horizon, regularly becoming immersed in the morning or evening mirky glow of twilight. Such proximity is not just inconvenient in observing the planet, but has greatly hindered the discovery of its orbit and understanding its general appearance and nature. This talk will principally focus on several long-term historical problems assigned in determining Mercury's orbit and its predicted ephemerides, whose substantial troubles mostly stem from gaining accurate astrometric positions. Earliest orbital elements were first derived by infrequent Mercury transits across the Sun, but this proved mostly unsuccessful due to its higher inclination to the ecliptic and its eccentricity. Improvements only occurred once additional positions were achieved by new transit observations across the meridian. This awkward task fell on the quite extraordinary but poorly known French astronomer, Citizen (Jacques) Vidal who made these observations at Mirepoix between 1790 and 1805 - some made when Mercury was within one-quarter the apparent diameter of the Sun. By combining these observations with the Mercury transits later led to Jerome Lalande's newer provisional orbital elements followed by those made by Urbain La Verrier. However, these solutions remained problematic, especially regarding discrepancies withprecessional changes of orbital nodes on successive perihelia. In turn, this led to competition between French and English astronomers, who wrongly had assigned the cause of the perturbations to either smaller asteroid bodies or an intra-orbiting planet to be named Vulcan. These deviations were later only fixed during the early 20th century by applying the successful ideas of Albert Einstein's 'Theory of General Relativity', therefore enabling Mercury's orbit to be properly established. Other briefer highlights during this talk include; Mercury's telescopic appearance, planetary rotation, and some of the very recent discoveries found by the NASA interplanetary spacecraft, Messenger.

Biography: Andrew James is a long-time member of ASNSW and is currently the Deep Sky and Planetary Nebulae Section Leader.

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Friday 3rd March 2017 - 8:00pm

THIS MEETING IS CANCELLED

Friday 10th March 2017 - 8:00pm
Topic: Woomera and WRESAT: How Australia joined the “Space Club”
Speaker: Kerrie Dougherty, Powerhouse Museum
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
Abstract: 2017 sees the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the Woomera Rocket Range, as well as the 50th anniversary of the launch of Australia’s first satellite, WRESAT, launched from Woomera on November 29, 1967. In this presentation, Kerrie Dougherty will explore the origins of the Woomera Range as a weapons-testing facility for the Anglo-Australian Joint Project and how it became the hub of Australian space activities at the dawn of the Space Age. How did early Australian space science using sounding rockets lead to the development of Australia’s first satellite? Find out in this fascinating glimpse into Australia’s space history.
Biography: Kerrie Dougherty is a freelance curator, historian, educator and writer, with more than thirty years’ experience in the space field. Formerly Curator of Space Technology at the Powerhouse Museum, Kerrie is also a member of the Faculty of the International Space University and lectures in Space Humanities in the ISU’s Space Studies Program and Southern Hemisphere Space Studies program. She is an elected Member of the International Academy of Astronautics and serves on international committees on the ‘history of astronautics’, ‘space education and outreach’ and ‘space and museums’. Kerrie has been the recipient of an Australian Space Pioneer Award from the National Space Society of Australia and was the 2015 winner of the Sacknoff Prize for Space History.

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Friday 7th April 2017 - 8:00pm
Topic: Stellar explosions and their remnants
Speaker: Professor Denis Leahy, University of Calgary
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
Abstract: Stellar explosions provide the elements that everything around us is constructed from. They also return mass from stars back to the space between the stars. The life of a massive star and its sudden death in such an event, called a supernova because of its brilliance, are outlined. Following the explosion, the blast wave produces a phenomenon known as as supernova remnant. This is what we can study in some detail. The talk will include description of research on supernova remnants by Dr. Leahy.
Biography: Denis Leahy is a Professor at the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Calgary.  He gained his B.Sc in Physics at the University of Waterloo, Ontario and his M.Sc and PhD at the University of British Columbia.  He held a post doctoral position at NASA Marshall Spec Flight Center Harvard and has been an assistant professor, Associate professor and is currently a full professor at the University of Calgary. His research interests include high energy astrophysics: neutron stars and other compact objects, X-ray binaries and supernova remnants.

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Friday 5th May 2017 - 8:00pm
Topic: Cannibals and Ghosts: A Look at the Tumultuous Lives of Large Galaxies
Speaker: Professor Annette Ferguson, Institute for Astronomy, University of Edinburgh
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
Abstract: It is commonly thought that large galaxies like our Milky Way have interacted with hundreds of smaller satellite companions throughout their lifetimes. These interactions not only destroy the smaller galaxies through tidal disruption but can profoundly shape the properties of the massive host, especially in their outer regions. I will present recent examples of these cannibalistic events in our own Milky Way and in other nearby galaxies, and discuss how these observations are helping us to reconstruct the histories of galaxies. I will highlight the particular role that forthcoming observational facilities such as the James Webb Space Telescope, Euclid and the LSST will play in significantly advancing this research field.
Biography: Annette Ferguson is a Professor of Observational Astrophysics at the University of Edinburgh and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Prior to joining the academic staff in Edinburgh in 2005, she held postdoctoral fellowships in Munich, Groningen and Cambridge. She conducted her PhD work at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and was an undergraduate at the University of Toronto. She specialises in understanding the histories of nearby galaxies through examining the fossil record contained in their resolved stellar populations.

Friday 12th May 2017 - 8:00pm
Topic: tba
Speaker: Professor Hugh Jones, University of Hertfordshire
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
Abstract: tba
Biography: tba

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Friday 2nd June 2017 - 8:00pm
Topic: Magnetism: from the Earth to the Cosmos
Speaker: Dr Cormac Purcell, Macquarie University
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
Abstract: The growth of all galaxies is fed by the diffuse matter in the spaces between stars. This 'interstellar medium' (ISM) is a frothy soup of gas and dust, ionised by stellar radiation, swept up into filaments and shells, and guided by magnetic field lines. In order to understand the evolution of the Universe we must trace the flows of energy and matter in the ISM over time. Shockingly, the cosmic magnetic field is one of the least understood components of the ISM! A revolution in radio-telescope technology in Australia is now poised to change all that. In this talk, I will introduce the listener to magnetism, explaining its history, origin and effect on Earth. We will journey out through space peering at magnetism through the Milky Way and on towards the earliest galaxies in the universe. I will outline the key role Australia is playing with the development of the Square Kilometer Array and pathfinders.
Biography: Dr Purcell is a research astronomer with over 14 years experience of survey astrophysics. He started his career investigating high-mass star formation by observing molecules emitting in stellar nursery clouds. After completing his PhD, he mapped bubbles of hot gas formed around high-mass stars as they evolve. He became an expert in radio-interferometry, using the Very Large Array and the Australia Telescope Compact Array to resolve fine details on the radio sky. He is currently investigating magnetism in the Milky Way and preparing for new "big data" surveys on the next generation of telescopes under construction. He obtained his Bachelor's degree in applied Physics at Dublin City University and his PhD at the UNSW. Following this, he held post doctoral positions at The University of Manchester, University of Leeds, University of Sydney and currently is a postdoctoral fellow at Macquarie University.

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Friday 7th July 2017 - 8:00pm
Topic: tba
Speaker: tba
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
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Friday 28th July 2017 - 8:00pm
Topic: Globular Clusters
Speaker: Dr Jeffrey Simpson, AAO
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
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Friday 4th August 2017 - 8:00pm
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Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
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Friday 25th August 2017 - 8:00pm
Topic: Annual General Meeting
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
Abstract: Presentation of annual reports and election of office bearers and committee

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Friday 1st September 2017 - 8:00pm
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Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
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Friday 8th September 2017 - 8:00pm
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Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
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Friday 6th October 2017 - 8:00pm
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Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
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Friday 27th October 2017 - 8:00pm
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Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
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Friday 3rd November 2017 - 8:00pm
Topic: tba
Speaker: tba
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
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