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Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand

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Observing and Interest Sections and Groups

The sections and groups of the RASNZ cater for people with similar observing or other astronomy related interests. For further information about a particular section please contact the director of the section at the addresses given below.
Astrobiology Group Astrophotgraphy Aurora and Solar Comet and Meteor
Occultation Variable Stars Education Group Dark Sky Group
Professional Astronomers Group

Aurora and Solar Section

Director: Bob Evans
15 Taiepa Road,
RD9 Otatara,

Email: Bob Evans

Web site: Aurora and Solar Section

The Section exists to encourage, help, collect and publish observations of the Aurora and Sun.

Southern New Zealand and Australia are particularly well-placed to observe the mid-latitude Aurora Australis. Since auroral activity is directly related to activity on and around the Sun, solar observing is an aid to predicting the occurrence of aurorae.

Accurate auroral and solar observations are accepted from anyone. Membership to the Section is encouraged ($20, any currency). You do not have to be a RASNZ member. A monthly Newsletter is produced summarising the previous month's auroral, solar and geomagnetic activity, and includes relevant news items from around the world and near space. Also, about once a year, a Circular is published including more detailed reports.

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Comet and Meteor

Director: John Drummond
21 Marion Drive

Email to Comet and Meteor Section

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Astrophotography Section

Director: John Drummond
21 Marion Drive,
New Zealand

Email to Astrophotgraphy Section

The formation of the section reflects the large increase in interest in astronomical imaging which has developed recently and is open to all who have an interest in this field.

Anyone interested in joining the section should contact the director by Email or by post for further information.

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Occultation Section

Director: Steve Kerr
P O Box 2241,
New Zealand

Email Occultation Section Director

Web site: Occultation Section

The RASNZ Occultation Section exists to promote occultation observing within New Zealand, Australia and the South Pacific.

Details of recent successful observations of occultations of stars by Minor Planets.

Lunar occultations occur when the Moon passes in front of stars or planets; planetary occultations occur when planets or minor planets (asteroids) pass in front of stars. Timing the instant at which an occultation occurs provides important information about the position of objects in space. In the case of minor planet occultations, it provides the only direct means of measuring an asteroid's diameter.

The Section provides general information and assistance to new observers. It publishes quarterly News Circulars, and a series of Circulars containing predictions of minor planet occultations. Membership of the Section is open to anyone - you do not need to be a member of the RASNZ. For further information contact the Director.

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Variable Stars South

Director: Dr Tom Richards

8 Diosma Road
Eltham, Victoria 3095, Australia

Email: Tom Richards

Website: Variable Stars South

The Variable Star Section, as it was formerly known, was founded by the late Dr Frank Bateson, OBE, in 1927 and became the recognised centre for southern variable star research. Now under new direction, it is expanding vigorously into the newer technologies of CCD and DSLR cameras, even spectroscopy.

VSS invites astronomers who would like to pursue variable star research to join VSS (see website) and take part in our research projects. You do not have to be a member of the RASNZ to join VSS. We are entirely an Internet-based group, in order to foster an international presence. If you have a telescope, or binoculars, or just a naked eye, there is variable star research waiting to be done, and VSS will assist you to learn the techniques and produce scientifically valuable results.

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RASNZ Dark Sky Group

Contact: Mr Steve Butler
30 Hoffman Court,
Invercargill 9810,
New Zealand.

Email: Steve Butler

RASNZ is actively involved promoting efficient night lighting to preserve dark skies. At the beginning of 2005 it became a signatory to the NZ Urban Design Protocol to promote the efficient and effective use of lighting and to assist in the recovery and preservation of the urban view of the night sky.

Steve Butler has developed a set of web site pages as part of the RASNZ site. Those interested in preserving our dark skies should visit the RASNZ dark sky site. The site is still undergoing development, so regular additions and changes are likely.

List of other Sections    Return to RASNZ home page

Astrobiology Group

The Astrobiology Group of the RASNZ has been formed to encourage, help, collect and publish astrobiology research from New Zealand.

Astrobiology, is the study of life’s potential in the Universe. It also studies the origin, evolution and history of life on Earth. Astrobiology is a topical subject, innovative and interdisciplinary.

Astrobiology unites physics, chemistry, astronomy, biology, molecular biology, ecology, planetary science, geography, and geology to study “anything and everything about life on Earth in order to understand how life might arise and survive elsewhere in the Universe”.

New Zealand is considered by international astrobiology practitioners to be an excellent field site. For example, there are unique extremophiles in the hot springs in Rotorua, Lake Taupo area and we can easily access the KT Boundary or the Dry Valleys in Antarctica. There is a network of scientists throughout New Zealand with excellent credentials in most of the interdisciplinary fields which make astrobiology. Their skills in microbiology, ecology, biosecurity, physics, astronomy, radio astronomy and geology, only to count a few, represent an accessible yet rich knowledge base, with local expertise. You do not have to be a RASNZ member to be part of the Astrobiology Group but we would encourage you to do so and support the great work of the Society.

Once we finalise the website and start the activity of the group, we aim to produce a monthly Newsletter summarising the previous month's activity, and including relevant news items from around the world and near space. Further information will come when available.

Web site:

Astrobiology New Zealand is the official web presence of the group. You may also subscribe to the mailing list or post to the group's Google Groups group: nzastrobiology@googlegroups.com


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Site last updated 24th February 2015