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Upcoming Ordinary Meetings 2013

Meetings & Events | The Annual SPSP | National Events & News | Ordinary Meetings | Section & Committee Meetings | AGM | I2A Course | Public Open Nights | Open Nights for Schools | Sketching Comp | Astroimaging Comp | Young Writer Comp

The Astronomical Society of New South Wales holds two meetings every month, on Friday evenings nearest Full Moon. One meeting, known as an Ordinary meeting, will usually have a guest speaker who is a professional astronomer or other qualified specialist, discussing leading edge developments in astronomy. The other meeting, known as a Technical meeting, usually has members making presentations of their own observations, telescope making, other related activities, discussing Society business etc. Details of these meetings will posted below as information comes to hand.

The Astroimaging Section meets separately, with meeting information on the Section & Committee Meetings page.

For 2014 meetings, see: 

March | April | May | June | July | August | September | October | November

Friday 15th February 2013 - 8:00pm
Topic: The 14th November 2012 Total Solar Eclipse
Speaker:  Any members and friends who have a story to tell and/or pictures to show - please bring along your memory stick / laptop / photos / stories. All members and visitors are most welcome. A light supper will be provided.
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping

Friday 22nd February 2013 - 8:00pm
Topic: Joe Cauchi's fabulous slide show
Speaker: Joe Cauchi
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
Abstract:  Joe Cauchi, one of the ASNSW's star astrophographers, will be showing off his latest astrophotos taken with his 16" Newtonian from the ASNSW dark sky site, Wiruna.
Biography: Joe is a long-standing ASNSW member and keen astroimager.
Friday 15th March 2013 - 8:00pm
Topic: Were Aboriginal Australians the world's first astronomers?
Speaker: Ray Norris
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
Abstract: Aboriginal people in Australia have a rich astronomical tradition such as the “emu in the sky” constellation of dark clouds, and stories about the Sun, Moon, and Orion, revealing a depth and complexity of Aboriginal cultures which are not widely appreciated by outsiders. This talk will explore the wonderful mystical Aboriginal astronomical stories and traditions and the treasury of ancient Aboriginal knowledge.
Friday 22nd March 2013 - 8:00pm
Topic: History of the Far Southern Constellations
Speaker: Andrew James
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
Abstract: In recent years, I have become far more interested in the history of the southern constellations and celestial objects gathered around the south celestial pole and extending out to declinations of -30 degrees. Like most of us, we have been continuously exposed to northern-centric views of the sky, often tainted with significant errors, wrong concepts, and seemingly deliberate falsehoods.
This interesting talk discusses the earliest origins of the southern constellations, and then follows the paths of naming, observations and classification of many of their naked-eye stars. We will examine the disconnect between these ancient constellations, and then tell of the various characters and southern explorers who seemingly piecemeal carved up the skies either for their own fame, prestige or even notoriety. Also discussed and shown are some of the southern star charts published throughout the centuries and how we can learn more on the gradual developments of constellation shapes and accepted areas, especially in their influence in the creation of several early star catalogues.
For example, where does the ‘47’ come from in the globular star cluster 47 Tucanae, the ‘p’ come from in the double star p Eridani, or why do some southern constellation have inexplicable missing Roman or Greek letters that are supposed to be sequenced by their descending brightness?
From then we’ll discuss the significant contribution and thoughts of like those like John Herschel or Benjamin Apthorp Gould, and the inroads or influences made by the astronomy popularists or celestial cartographers of the late 19th Century. Our story ends with today's constellations decided by the IAU and their commissioned draughtsman, Delporte, in 1930.
We conclude with discussions on possible future adaptions, modifications of constellation boundaries and outlines, or discarding them for good. While this subject is adequately covered in many sources, I will attempt to dispel some of the myths and present the subject in a slightly different light.
Note: If some time is available, I hope to conduct an open discussion with members on the southern constellations as a “Q&A.”
Biography: Andrew is a long-standing member of the ASNSW and frequently contributes articles (notably, the Neat Southern Planetaries or NSP series) to Universe magazine.
Friday 19th April 2013 - 8:00pm
Topic: Type Ia Supernovae as Standard Candles
Speaker: Mark Phillips, Las Campanas Observatory
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
Abstract: Supernovae are the explosive deaths of stars.  They are the primary source of the heavy elements in the Universe, including the basic elements of life.  In this talk, I will describe how we can use Type Ia supernovae to study the expansion of the Universe, with particular emphasis on the research I've carried out during my 30+ years in Chile.
Biography: Mark Phillips was born in San Diego, California, and received his Ph.D. from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1977.  His first postdoctoral appointment was at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) in Chile. From 1980-1982, he was a research scientist at the Anglo-Australian Observatory, and in 1982 he returned to Chile to take a staff astronomer position at CTIO. In 1998, Mark joined the Carnegie Observatories where he currently serves as the Associate Director for the Magellan Telescopes. His early research was concentrated on active galactic nuclei and quasars but, with the discovery of SN 1987A in the Large Magellanic Cloud, he became immersed in the study of supernovae. Mark was a co-founder of the Calan/Tololo project which established the utility of Type Ia supernovae as cosmological standard candles. He was also a member of the High-Z Team which discovered the accelerating expansion of the Universe in 1998.
Friday 17th May 2013 - 8:00pm
Topic: Collisions in Crowded Corners of the Cosmos:
How Stephan's Quintet and other Compact Groups of Galaxies are helping us uncover unexpected secrets of the universe
Speaker: Dr Michelle Cluver, AAO
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
Abstract: Strongly interacting compact groups of galaxies, like Stephen's Quintet, are fairly rare in the local universe. But, when one of the members of the Quintet crashed into the group at ~1000 km/s, the resulting shock wave produced a very interesting (and unexpected!) physical phenomenon-- widespread and abundant emission from molecular hydrogen, a relatively fragile molecule. In this talk I will detail the Spitzer Space Telescope observations that led to this "shocking" surprise and discuss the impact of this result on a broad range of astrophysical phenomenon. In fact, a larger study of compact groups suggests it may be key to uncovering how galaxies are evolving.  
Biography: I was born in Cape Town, South Africa, where I developed a keen interest in Astronomy through my Dad and subsequently the Planetarium in Cape Town. Whilst working there part-time, I completed a BSc degree in Physics and Chemistry and further an Honours Degree in Theoretical Physics, both from the University of Cape Town. After teaching mathematics for several years I decided to return to my studies, this time a Masters in Astrophysics and Space Science, part of a brand new initiative in South Africa to promote studies in astrophysics. Subsequently, I obtained a PhD in Astronomy in January 2009 from the University of Cape Town, having spent 9 months at Caltech, located in Los Angeles, on a Visiting Graduate Fellowship working on the analysis of Spitzer Space Telescope data of a rare star-forming, HI-massive galaxy. My first Postdoctoral Research position was at the Infrared Processing And Analysis Center (IPAC) at Caltech until November 2011, working on Stephan's Quintet and compact groups (among other things). Since then I have been based at the Australian Astronomical Observatory as a Super Science Fellow.   
I consider myself very fortunate to be able to observe on world class telescopes and work with data from space telescopes.
Friday 24th May 2013 - 8:00pm
Topic:  The Hermes Spectrograph and the Galah Survey
Speaker:  Dr Andy Sheinis, AAO
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
Abstract: The goal of Galah survey is to do Galactic Archaeology locally on the MilkyWay.   Using high resolution spectra of over a million Galactic disk stars , Galah will reconstruct the lost stellar substructures of the protogalaxy, thereby obtaining a detailed physical picture of the formation and evolution of the Galaxy. Chemical and dynamical fossil stellar substructures are signposts to an array of evolutionary events, from in-falling satellites and dissolving stellar aggregates to effects of spiral arm resonances. Disentangling their relative contribution is fundamental for developing a physical sequence of events that formed the Milky Way, and other large spiral galaxies.  The GALAH survey is a Large Observing Program to commence in 2013 using the Anglo-Australian Telescope of the Australian Astronomical Observatory. It will use the new state-of-the-art  HERMES spectrograph to provide simultaneous spectra in four wavelength bands tailored to obtaining a range of chemical element lines, from light elements up to heavy neutron-capture elements.   HERMES will be the next major instrument for the 3.9-m AAT, and is currently under construction at AAO. It will provide a unique and powerful new facility for multi-object astronomy. The HERMES system is built upon the AAT’s existing two-degree field (2dF) optical fibre positioner, which can collect the light from 400 stars at a time (there are 8 guide fibres and 392 fibres that can allocated to targets) .  Final Galah data products will include abundances of over 15 different chemical elements per star - making the GALAH survey the first of its kind.
Biography: I am the Head of Instruemntation at the AAO. In addition I am an Adjunct Associate Professor of Astronomy at the Sydney Institute for Astronomy (SIfA). My interests are in Astronomical Instrumentation (spectrographs, imagers in the visible and NIR as well as AO and novel observational and instrumentation tools). On the science end of things I am interested in the AGN/Host Galaxy interaction, feedback and the influence of bona fide QSO's on their hosts.
Before coming to sunny Sydney Australia I was an assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Prior to that I was an NSF Postdoctoral fellow at the CFAO in Santa Cruz. I did my Ph.D. in Santa Cruz as well working for Joe Miller on AGN Hosts and Jerry Nelson on Instrumentation.

Friday 14th June 2013 - 8:00pm
Topic:  Large Scale Galaxy Surveys
Speaker:  Dr James Allan, University of Sydney
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
Abstract: In recent decades, technological advances have allowed telescopes to be fitted with more and more sensitive instruments, allowing observations of large numbers of faint objects. Simultaneously, computing power and storage capacity has increased exponentially. Taken together, these advances have allowed astronomical surveys to expand massively in size and scope. Modern surveys can produce terabytes of data every night, and some run uninterrupted for many years. I will introduce a number of surveys - past, present and future - that have had, or will have, major impacts on our understanding of the universe. The main focus will be on optical (visible-light) surveys that study galaxies in order to understand how they have evolved over the history of the universe. In particular, I'll describe my own work using SAMI, the Sydney-AAO Multi-object Integral field spectrograph, which allows detailed studies of the internal structure of an unprecedented number of galaxies.
Biography: James grew up in England and studied at the Institute of Astronomy in the University of Cambridge. In 2011, after completing his PhD, he moved to Australia to work at the University of Sydney as a Super Science Fellow.
Friday 21st June 2013 - 8:00pm
Topic: 100 Years of Astronomy and the tale of 2 Observatories!
Speaker:   Donna Burton ANU/ASNSW
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
Abstract: 100 Years of Astronomy and the tale of 2 Observatories! or How SSO came to be. A look at the history of Mount Stromlo and Siding Spring Observatories as we celebrate Centenary of MT Stromlo and approach the 50th Anniversary of SSO. I will also look at the impact of both the 2003 Stromlo and 2013 SSO Bushfires and the recovery process. 
Biography: Donna has always been in love with the sky and have been a passionate amateur astronomer for many years. Currently a post-graduate student at the University of Southern Queensland, Donna works at Siding Spring Observatory as an Operations Support Officer for the Australian National University (ANU), where she is involved in outreach, telescope system support and training observers how to use the 2.3m telescope. As well as working in one of the world's most respected observatories, Donna is also a flying instructor and the Australian National Co-Ordinator for the international group "Astronomers Without Borders".
She has worked at the UK Schmidt Telescope as an observer and on the Siding Spring Near Earth Object Survey and became the first Australian woman to discover a comet in 2006 and another in 2007.

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Friday 19th July 2013 - 8:00pm
 Nightscape Photography 101
Speaker:  Mike Salway
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
Abstract: The nightscape is a relatively new genre of photography, combining beautiful foregrounds with a night sky scene - often in a single exposure, sometimes as a composite of varying exposures.
As we are seeing more and more people around the world capturing these amazing and inspiring nightscape photos, what's their secret?
What makes a good nightscape photo?
What makes a good nightscape photographer?
Mike will share his thoughts on these questions as well as a show-and-tell of some nightscape photos he's captured in the last 12 months. Biography: My name is Mike Salway and I'm passionate about amateur astronomy, photography and karate. I love to capture beautiful landscapes and night sky scenes, and love it when I can show people the wonder of our universe.

Friday 26th July 2013 - 8:00pm
Understanding the complex nature of globular clusters: a chemical approach.
Speaker:   Dr Valentina D'Orazi, Macquarie University
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
Abstract: The traditional perspective of globular clusters as simple stellar populations is now overcome.  In the last years a huge number of observational studies have revealed the presence of significant internal variations in their light-element content (e.g., oxygen and sodium).
This extremely peculiar chemical pattern, which is not observed in field stars and/or in smaller stellar aggregates such as open clusters points to internal pollution processes and to the existence of multiple stellar generations. I will review our results from a large observational survey, carried out in the last four/five years, focused on light- and heavy-element abundance determinations. The general implications on cluster formation and early evolution scenarios will be also discussed.
Biography: I achieved my Laurea degree in Astronomy in 2005 at the University of Bologna (Italy)and subsequently obtained my PhD in Astronomy at the University of Florence (March 2009). I took up a post-doc research position at INAF -Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova in 2009.  I am currently an ARC Super Science Fellow at Department of Physics and Astronomy at Macquarie University (Sydney, Australia) and at the Monash Centre for Astrophyscis (Monash University, Melbourne, Australia).
My main research interests focus on the determination of chemical abundances,through high and intermediate resolution spectroscopic observations in the optical and near-infrared domains, of young and old stellar populations in star forming regions, young associations, open and globular clusters).  I have been a member of the Galactic Archeology project with Hermes (GALAH), where I am involved in the development of an automated pipeline for stellar parameter and abundance determination since 2011.


Friday 16th August 2013 - 8:00pm
Topic:  A Night in the Life of an Astronomer
Speaker:  Dr Lee Spitler, Macquarie University
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
Abstract:  Through a visual journey, you will travel with an astronomer, Dr. Lee Spitler, on an observing trip to the remote 6.5-metre Baade Magellan Telescope. In the still Chilean night, you will collect astronomy data to hunt for galaxies billions of light years away from Earth. Learn about the trials and tribulations of a professional astronomer.

Friday 23rd August 2013 - 8:00pm
Topic: Annual General Meeting
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
Abstract: Includes presentation of annual reports and light supper.

Friday 13th September 2013 - 8:00pm

The Gordon Patston Memorial Lecture

Topic: The Massive Black Hole at the Centre of the Galaxy: Hear it Roar!
Speaker: Dr Mark Wardle, Macquarie University
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
Abstract: The black hole at the centre of the Galaxy has a mass of four million suns, but emits the power of just one hundred because it is fed by a trickle of gas from its surroundings. The latest research suggests that the hole occasionally captures material from a passing interstellar cloud, creating ten thousand stars, swallowing a similar mass of gas, and emitting a burst of energy that creates gigantic kiloparsec-scale explosions extending perpendicular to the plane of the galactic disk. Yikes!
Biography: Mark is an astrophysicist in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at Macquarie University. He holds honours degrees in mathematics and physics from the University of Auckland and a PhD in astrophysics from Princeton University. After completing his doctorate, Mark held positions at the University of Chicago, Northwestern University and the University of Rochester. He returned to the Southern Hemisphere, spending several years at the University of Sydney before moving to Macquarie in 2002. Mark has extensive experience teaching physics and astronomy courses at first year through to PhD level and conducts research on the formation of stars and planetary systems, the massive black hole at the centre of the Galaxy, and physical and chemical processes occurring in interstellar space. Cool.


Friday 20th September 2013 - 8:00pm
Topic:  Nuclear Fusion
Speaker: Dr Mathew Guenette, ANSTO
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
Abstract:Nuclear fusion is a reaction between two light atoms to form a heavier atom and produce large amounts of energy. It is the process which powers the sun, and is a promising next generation energy production solution on Earth, with no greenhouse gas emissions, and a practically limitless fuel supply.
Current fusion experiments produce power at a gain of approximately 1, i.e. it takes the same amount of power to sustain the fusion reaction as it produces. The 15 billion science megaproject, ITER, is currently under construction in the south of France and aims to make the transition between experimental physics studies to electricity-producing fusion power plant. ITER will be the world’s largest tokamak nuclear fusion reactor and is expected to demonstrate, for the first time, the ability to produce more power from fusion than is required to sustain the reaction, with a goal of producing 500 MW of power from 50 MW of input power.
In this talk I will discuss some of the physics of nuclear fusion, in stars and on earth, and the history and future outlook of the development of nuclear fusion for power generation. I’ll talk about some of the current scientific and engineering challenges still facing fusion power development, as well as some of my own research on plasma-facing materials for fusion applications and other fusion research activities currently being pursued in Australia. 
Biography: I completed a B. Sc. (Hons) from the University of Sydney in 2006 with majors in physics and applied mathematics, including a brief stint researching photovoltaics. I then received my PhD from the School of Physics, University of Sydney in 2011, studying plasma deposition of MAX phase materials. Since 2011, I have been researching plasma-facing materials for nuclear fusion applications as a post-doctoral fellow at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation.


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Friday 11th October 2013 - 8:00pm
Topic:  The Neptune Trojans
Speaker:  Dr Jonti Horner, UNSW
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
Abstract: A Window to the Birth of the Solar System" - the Neptune Trojans are the most recently discovered addition to the zoo of Solar system objects. Moving around the Sun in a group that stays approximately sixty degrees ahead of the planet Neptune in its orbit, their behaviour and evolution may help shed light on the processes through which the planets formed and migrated to their current location. In this talk, I discuss ground-breaking work carried out in association with Dr. Patryk Sofia Lywkawka, based in Japan, studying the past, present, and future of these enigmatic objects.
Biography: I've been interested in astronomy since I was about 5 years old - and a member of local astronomical societies since I was about 8. In fact, I'm now honourary president of my old society back in the UK - the West Yorkshire Astronomical Society, WYAS, and I get back there whenever I'm back in the UK.
I did my undergraduate degree (a four year Masters) at Durham, in the north of England, Physics and Astronomy, then I went to Oxford to do my D.Phil., where I researched "The Behaviour of Small Bodies in the Outer Solar System". After that, I spent three years as a postdoc at the University of Bern, in Switzerland, three years as a postdoc at the Open University in the UK, and then a year as a Teaching Fellow back at Durham. I moved out to Sydney from Durham in September 2010, and have been at UNSW ever since.
My research is a mix of Solar system astronomy and Exoplanet work, with a handful of Astrobiology stuff thrown in for good measure.

Friday 18th October 2013 - 8:00pm
Meeting to discuss proposed changes to the ASNSW Constitution
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
Abstract: Proposals will be presented to the members by the meeting chairperson. Feedback from the floor will be invited. Ideas apart from those documented as proposals may also be raised without notice. This is an informal discussion only to review and to help finalise the wording of the proposals. A Special General Meeting and postal voting on the proposals will be arranged in early 2014.

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Friday 8th November 2013 - 8:00pm
Topic: Black holes and galaxy evolution
Speaker:   Prof. Elaine Sadler  University of Sydney
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
Abstract: At the centre of every large galaxy is a massive black hole. Enormous amounts of energy can be released when this black hole swallows infalling material, and radio telescopes provide a powerful tool for identifying and studying black holes in the distant universe. This talk will describe some of the intriguing links between the very small-scale properties of the central black hole and the large-scale properties of the surrounding galaxy, and discuss how black holes can profoundly affect the evolution of galaxies over cosmic time.
Biography: Elaine Sadler completed an undergraduate physics degree at the University of Queensland, followed by a PhD in Astronomy from the Australian National University.  She held postdoctoral fellowships in Germany and the United States before returning to Australia to take up a research position at the AAO.
Elaine is currently a Professor in the School of Physics at the University of Sydney, and recently served as President of Division VIII (Galaxies and the Universe) of the International Astronomical Union and Chair of the National Committee for Astronomy.  She was elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science in 2010.

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Friday - 8:00pm
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping

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