Hel.A.S. Newsletter 135 - May 2009

  1. Short News
  2. The 9th Hellenic Astronomical Conference
  3. Meeting of the Governing Council of HelAS
  4. Job Openings
  5. May Activities for the IYA2009
  6. JENAM 2009 in the UK
  7. The EAS 2009 Tycho Brahe Prize
  8. Fly your Thesis with ESA
  9. NASA’s STEREO Spacecraft Reveals the Anatomy of Solar Storms
  10. VirGO: the next generation ESO Visual Browser
  11. Summer School NOVICOSMO 2009
  12. Upcoming Astronomy Meetings in Greece
  13. About this Newsletter

After many years of hard work and anticipation the European Space Agency has formally announced the countdown for the launch of the Herschel and Planck Space Telescopes. The two telescopes are scheduled to be launched together onboard an Ariane 5 rocket, on May 14th 2009.

On Thursday May 14th 2009, George Contopoulos, Professor Emeritus of the University of Athens, Academician of the Academy of Athens, and Honorary President of the Hellenic Astronomical Society, will receive an honorary Doctor of Philosophy degree from the Department of Physics of the University of Athens. The ceremony will take place at 8:00pm in the Central Auditorium of University of Athens.


We would like to remind to all members of HelAS that the registration and abstract submission for the 9th Hellenic Astronomical Conference, which will take place on September 20-24 2009, is now open. Everyone is invited to visit the conference web site, register online, and submit an abstract for an oral or poster contribution. Please note that the abstract submission deadline is June 1st 2009. More information is available at:



On March 19th 2009 the Governing Council (GC) of HelAS held via teleconference a meeting to discuss various issues related to organizational matters as well as upcoming activities of the Society. All members are strongly encouraged to read the minutes of this GC meeting which are available online at:



The Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics of the National Observatory of Athens has two (2) openings for employment at the Helmos Observatory. The positions are for graduates of Technological Educational Institutes (TEI) in the field of Electronic Engineering. The duration of the contract is for 6 months with the possibility of extension. The application deadline is May 8th 2009. For more information contact +30 210 3490150 and +30-2108109161/2 or check the formal announcement, in greek, at:



In this news-item we present all activities related to the International Year of Astronomy which, to our knowledge, are scheduled in Greece this coming month. If you wish to have your planned activities included in this mailing please inform the Editor of the e-newsletter.

For May 2009 the following events are planned:

  • 2nd of May - Talk of Prof. J. Seiradakis (Univ. of Thessaoniki) entitled "Night and Day: Winter and Summer", at the city of Naousa
  • 5th of May - Talk of Prof. L. Vlahos (Univ. of Thessaoniki) entitled "The universe: Creation, Structure, and Evolution", at the city of Livadia
  • 8th of May - Talk of Prof. L. Resvanis (Univ. of Athens) entitled "Neutrino Astronomy: Detecting the elusive messenger of the Universe ", at the Pendeli site of the National Observatory of Athens
  • 9th of May - Talk of Prof. K. Tsinganos (Univ. of Athens) entitled "Jets signaling the birth and death of stars", at the city of Kyparissia Messinias.
  • 10th of May - Talk of Dr. M. Plionis (Nat. Obs. of Athens) entitled "The puzzle of dark matter and dark energy", at the Pendeli site of the National Observatory of Athens
  • 13th of May - Talk of Dr. M. Harsoula (Academy of Athens) entitled "The Dance of Galaxies", at the at the Megaron of the Academy of Athens.
  • 15-17th of May - Three day Astronomy Symposium for the public of the city of Athens. The event will take place at the historic building of the Univ. of Athes at Propylaia, and the program, available as a 20MByte PDF file, consists of a number of public talks in the early evening followed by observing the night sky.
  • 19th of May - Talk of Dr. N. Prantzos (Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris) entitled "40 years from the first lunar landing: the human prospects in space", at the Megaron of Music of Athens
  • 22th of May - Talk of Dr. T. Katsiyiannis (Nat. Obs. of Athens) entitled "The Aristarchos telescope and modern astronomy", at the Pendeli site of the National Observatory of Athens
  • 24th of May - Talk of Dr. M. Xilouris (Nat. Obs. of Athens) entitled "The invisible Universe", at the Pendeli site of the National Observatory of Athens
  • 27th of May - Talk of Dr. S. Bassilakos (Academy of Athens) entitled "Modern Cosmology: The creation, structure, and evolution of the Universe", at the at the Megaron of the Academy of Athens.
  • 29th of May - Talk of Dr. A. Georgakakis (Nat. Obs. of Athens) entitled "The mystery of Black Holes", at the Pendeli site of the National Observatory of Athens
  • 31st of May - Talk of Dr. I. Georgantopoulos (Nat. Obs. of Athens) entitled "The Universe through the eyes of X-ray telescopes", at the Pendeli site of the National Observatory of Athens

More details about the events mentioned above, as well as all upcoming activities for the IYA 2009 which will take place in Greece under the auspices of Hel.A.S., are available at:



The 2009 Joint European and National Astronomy Meeting (JENAM 2009) took place at the University of Hertfordshire in the UK between 20-23 April 2009. More than 1000 participants from all countries of Europe and beyond attended the numerous symposia and parallel sessions presenting their findings. In addition, a number of press releases on new exciting results were published (note the one by the member of Hel.A.S. Dr. Vasilis Archontis) and they are available in a dedicated web page at:



[News provided by the EAS] The European Astronomical Society (EAS) announces that this year’s winner of its Tycho Brahe Prize is the French astrophysicist Prof. Dr. Françoise Combes. The Tycho Brahe Prize is awarded annually in recognition of the development or exploitation of European instruments, or major discoveries based largely on such instruments.

F. Combes Françoise Combes is one of the leading astrophysicists in the field of extragalactic astronomy in the world and holds the title of "Astronome 1ere classe Exceptionnelle" at the Observatoire de Paris (France). She is author or co-author of more than 300 refereed astronomical publications which have received over 8000 citations, along with numerous invited reviews, as well as several books including two textbooks: "Galaxies and Cosmology", and "Mystères de la formation des galaxies". She has done fundamental work in the area of dynamics of galaxies, on the interstellar medium in extragalactic systems, on molecular absorption lines in the intergalactic medium, and on Dark Matter in the Universe. The basis of her work is formed by observations in the optical using the Very Large Telescope of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and in the radio domain with telescopes of the Institut de Radioastronomie Millimétrique (IRAM). These observations are then combined with theoretical studies. Françoise Combes is a prototype of the “New Astronomer” who efficiently combines observations at multiple wavelengths with theory and numerical modelling.

Françoise Combes has established very successful scientific collaborations with many groups in Europe and the USA. Chairing one of the five panels of the European initiative ASTRONET, she has contributed substantially to the planning of future European instrumentation. She is presently editor of the European journal Astronomy & Astrophysics and was President of the French Society of Astronomy and Astrophysics. She has received many distinctions among which that of the "Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur", the Silver Medal of the CNRS, and the IBM Prize in physics. She is also a member of the French Académie des Sciences.


ESA’s Education Office is offering European students the flights of a lifetime with the 2010 call for proposals for the “Fly your Thesis! – An Astronaut Experience” programme. This exciting programme enables university students to fly their experiments in microgravity by participating in a series of parabolic flights on the Airbus A300 Zero-G aircraft. “Fly your Thesis!” requires each team of students to design a scientific experiment to be performed in microgravity, as part of their Master's or PhD thesis or research programme. Teams should register on ESA Education Office's Projects Portal and upload their outline proposals using the letter of intent template, by 22 June 2009. For more information visit the dedicated web page at:



On April 14, 2009, a press release of NASA highlighted the unique capabilities of the STEREO spacecraft to produce live three dimensional images of Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) from the Sun. STEREO consists of two nearly identical observatories that make simultaneous observations of CMEs from two different vantage points. One observatory 'leads' Earth in its orbit around the sun, while the other observatory 'trails' the planet. STEREO’s two vantage points provide a unique view of the anatomy of a solar storm as it evolves and travels toward Earth. Once the CME arrives at the orbit of Earth, sensors on the satellites take in situ measurements of the solar storm cloud, providing a "ground truth" between what was seen at a distance and what is real inside the CME. For more information, including a impressive video narrated by Angelos Vourlidas, a member of HelAS and Project Scientist of SECCHI, one of the instruments onboard STEREO, visit the dedicated web page at:



VirGO is the next generation Visual Browser for the ESO Science Archive Facility developed by the VO Systems Department. It is a plug-in for the popular open source software Stellarium with added capabilities for browsing professional astronomical data. VirGO gives astronomers the possibility to easily discover and select data from millions of observations in a new visual and intuitive way. Its main feature is to perform real-time access and graphical display of a large number of observations by showing instrumental footprints and image previews, and to allow their selection and filtering for subsequent retrieval. It reads FITS images and catalogues in VOTable format. It superimposes DSS background images and allows to view the sky in a real life mode as seen from the main ESO sites. Data interfaces are based on Virtual Observatory standards enabling access to images and spectra hosted by other data centers and to exchange data with other VO applications through the PLASTIC messaging system. For more information visit the dedicated web page at:



The Department of Physics of the University of Rijeka, Croatia and the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) of Trieste, Italy, organize "NOVICOSMO 2009, Highlights in Astrophysics", an International Summer School with the aim to cover the major topics in modern astronomy and astrophysics. In this period of phenomenal increase of knowledge of the Universe in all branches of astrophysics, this summer school wants to bring together young scholars with experts in different research fields in Astrophysics and Cosmology. The School will take place on 20-30 September 2009 in Rabac, Croatia, and it is intended for graduates, PhD students and young Post-Docs. The application deadline is May 25, 2009. For more information review the details of the call at:



The following meetings will take place in Greece. Please check the corresponding web page or contact the organizers by e-mail for more information.


This Newsletter was sent to all members of Hel.A.S. who have e-mail access. The next edition of the Newsletter will be mailed around June 1st 2009. Please send your announcements (e.g. appointments/departures, job openings, research opportunities, awards, conferences in Greece) or comments before May 25, 2009. If you do not wish to receive future issues of this Newsletter or the e-mail address to which it was sent is not your preferred one, please inform the Secretary of Hel.A.S.


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