Held Each January in the Hawke's Bay
Pick your astronomer. Some of the attendees at Stardate 2013
Relaxing after Stardate - a well earned rest
Tuki Tuki River Valley Tuki Tuki Youth Camp
Stardate is an astronomical gathering for people who are interested in observing the stars through a variety of telescopes brought along by participants; people who like listening to interesting talks and participating in workshops; people who like good food and good company; people who are interested in diverse aspects of astronomy. By the way that includes children; Stardate is a family affair.
Telescope Trail Solar Viewing
Review of Stardate 2012
Stardate 2012 was well attended, with approximately 70 attendees. Some people took advantage of the opportunity to arrive a little earlier and set up before the main camp. The weather was reasonably kind to us and we had some good, clear observing nights.
Many thanks to those who helped with the pre-camp set up. At this point I would very much like to thank Katrina Leather, Richard Hall, Edwin Rodley, Ian Cooper and every person who replaced toilet paper, washed floors or alerted the organisers to a problem, and all those who acted as chairpersons during the sessions. Also many thanks to Robert Snowball, Gary Sparks and John Burt who helped get items to site and store safely afterwards. Many thanks to you all, the smooth running of something like this relies on the goodwill and co-operation of everyone. Let us all celebrate the problem solvers amongst us.
Astrophotography has become a feature of Stardate and the presentations given this time were no exception. John Drummond showed us some of the award winners from previous RASNZ astrophotography competitions. Ian Cooper and Stephen Chadwick shared some of the marvellous images from their new book, including some almost unknown objects. John Whitby showed us the moving aspect of astrophotography with live video images. Many keen astrophotographers really enjoyed and benefitted from the astrophotography workshops held in the kitchen. I know, I was crying away peeling onions for the barbeque at the time!
Richard Hall fascinated us again with his romps through science and history with talks on the Sun, the Zodiac and the Night Sky. David Sabiston braved the pain of a new hip replacement to warn us of the dangers of exposure to the sun. His talk was a pertinent warning, given the state of the ozone layer over New Zealand.
For those of us who find the night sky challenging, John explained and demonstrated celestial geometry and Richard Hall took us on a tour of the Night Sky. George’s juniors gradually expanded into some definitely not-so-junior astronomers because his children’s astronomy programme was too fascinating to leave to just the kids. The big kids ended up joining in too.
It was a very successful programme and many thanks to all those involved. You made it a success.
Stardate 2012 Fun Stuff
When not observing or learning about the stars, people at Stardate managed to have fun and socialise. George had all the children busy Saturday morning with his astronomy programme, which all the kids enjoyed. Observing was good every night except Sunday and there was a good programme of talks. People relaxed around the camp, taking some time out from lives that seem to be ever more busy. It was good enjoying catching up with old friends and making new ones.
From Left to Right: Kay Leather cooking up a storm; Richard Hall introducing John Drummonds talk on Captiona Cook and the 2012 transit of Venus.
Stardate 2012 Telescope Trail
The telescope trail is a very popular part of Stardate. Ian Cooper provided a great tour guide for everyone at Stardate, leading them along on the Telescope Trail. Traveling along on the trail gives everyone the chance to see the telescopes in the daylight, ask questions from the owner and find out about a range of scopes. I always like seeing the scopes in the daylight so I know what scopes I have been observing through the night before, or which scopes are new that I would like to have a look through at night.
060 From Left to Right: Gary Sparks investigating the telescope; Jim Warmsley, Wellington; John Burt
From Left to Right: Robin Warnes; George Moutzouris; Steven Chadwick
Stardate Solar Watchers
This year was the first time I can remember that a range of solar telescopes were actively used at Stardate.
LEFT Tina Hills overseeing solar viewing
M9 solar flare Solar eruption Jan 2012
The Stardate Effect!
Jan 19th - Active sunspot 1401 erupted an M3-class solar flare and a full-halo Coronal Mass Ejection on January 19 2012. The CME hit Earth's magnetic field in the early hours of January 22.
Jan 23rd - Sunspot 1402 erupted a long-duration M8.7-class flare, followed by a CME, at 03:59 UTC. According to NOAA, the flare's radiation storm was ranked as an S3 (strong level), the strongest since May 2005. The very fast-moving CME arrived at Earth on January 24 at approximately 15:00 UTC. This was a massive solar flare, one subdivision under an X-class solar flare, which are classified as major events that can trigger planet-wide radio blackouts and long-lasting radiation storms. It was a relatively substantial and fast-moving (2200 km/s) CME that could have affected spacecraft in geosynchronous, polar and other orbits passing through Earth’s ring current and auroral regions. As a result, airlines were forced to reroute some flights that usually cross over the polar regions.
Comparison of Solar Cycles 10, 12,13, 14, 16 and 24
Jan 27 - At 18:37 UTC, sunspot region 1402 unleashed an X1.7-class flare, prompting NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Centre to issue an R3 (strong) Radio Blackout warning and an S2 (moderate) Solar Radiation Storm warning. Sunspot 1402 was rotating onto the far side of the sun, so the blast site was not facing Earth. The explosion also produced a huge CME, but not Earth-oriented.