Hel.A.S. Newsletter 110 - April 2007

  1. Short News
  2. New Web Pages of Hel.A.S.
  3. The 8th Hellenic Astronomical Conference
  4. H.E.S.S. wins Descartes prize
  5. Visiting graduate student fellowships at SSC
  6. Online astronomy resources in Greek
  7. Upcoming Astronomy meetings in Greece
  8. About this Newsletter

The Proceedings of the international scientific workshop on "Cosmology & Gravitational Physics" organized in Thessaloniki on December 15-16, 2005, are now available online as a PDF file from the web page of the workshop at: http://www.astro.auth.gr/Cosmology05/

The editors of the proceedings are Prof. N.K. Spyrou, Assist. Prof. N. Stergioulas, and Assist. Prof. C. Tsagas.


As it was noticed by many of our members, after a decade of online presence the web pages of the Hellenic Astronomical Society were showing clear signs of their age. These are of course directly correlated with the age of the original designer and current web curator. As a result, during the last GS of Hel.A.S. it was decided that the web pages should receive a well deserved face-lift. In the process the domain name "helas.gr" was also reserved in order to secure an international online identity for our Society.

We thus have the pleasure to invite all our members to visit the new web pages of the Society at:


Most of the material is similar to what we had before but it has been reorganized in what we consider a more convenient structure. As was the case with the old web pages (still accessible at http://www.helas.gr/old/) the new web pages are currently available only English. However, their translation into Greek is under development and it will become public by the end of the month.

The membership directory has been restructured into a new database which will simplify future updates as well as various administrative tasks necessary for providing high quality service to our members.

However, since "The enemy of good enough is better", if you spot any mistakes, in particular in your contact details, or you have comments or suggestions please forward them to the Secretary of the Society, who has been supervising the whole effort.


We wish to remind all Hel.A.S. members that the deadline for submission of abstracts for the upcoming 8th conference of Hel.A.S. will be the 15th of May 2007. For more details please visit the conference web page at:



The international H.E.S.S. team, shared with 2 more teams, the 2007 Descartes prize for Basic Research (worth 1 million Euros) for their work studying some of the most violent phenomena in the Universe.

H.E.S.S. is the High Energy Stereoscopic System telescopes in Namibia, South-West Africa. The H.E.S.S. team currently operates the most sensitive telescopes in the world for the study of very high energy (VHE) gamma rays - which are only emitted in very energetic violent processes, such as near black holes and in supernovae. In the first years of operation, the H.E.S.S. collaboration has greatly advanced the young field of gamma ray astronomy, discovering several new types of source and making the first maps of the sky in VHE gamma-rays.

H.E.S.S. is a system of four 13m diameter telescopes and is currently the most sensitive detector of VHE gamma-rays - radiation that is a million, million times more energetic than the visible light. These high energy gamma rays are quite rare; even for relatively strong sources, only about one gamma ray per month hits a square metre at the top of the Earth's atmosphere. Also, since they are absorbed in the atmosphere, a direct detection of a significant number of the rare gamma rays would require a satellite of huge size. The H.E.S.S. telescopes employ a trick - they use the atmosphere as detector medium. When gamma rays are absorbed in the air, they emit short flashes of blue light, named Cherenkov light, lasting a few billionths of a second. This light is collected by the H.E.S.S. telescopes with large mirrors and extremely sensitive cameras and can be used to create images of astronomical objects as they appear in gamma-rays.


The SPITZER Science Center (SSC) announces the availability of six-month graduate student fellowships beginning summer 2007 designed to allow students from other institutions throughout the world to visit the SSC and perform astronomical research in projects in close association with a SSC staff member during 2007/8. One of the projects proposed is co-supervised by Dr. L. Moustakas, a member of Hel.A.S.. Details can be found at:


The aim of the program is to provide a graduate student from another institution with the opportunity of working at the SSC during the SPITZER mission, and to share in the excitement of NASA's latest Great Observatory. Applicants would normally be expected to have completed preliminary course work in their graduate program and be available for research during the period of the award. Funding from the SSC will be provided for a 6-month period via a monthly stipends, airfare to the SSC from the home institution and some start-up expenses. Typically 4-5 students will be accepted on the program. Students would normally begin work at the SSC in July 2007 and leave in Late Jan/Early February 2008.


It is well known that a wealth of information about all topics related to astronomy and astrophysics are available online from numerous sources. However, most of this material is available in English (or other foreign languages) which creates difficulties in disseminating the knowledge to the Greek public, in particular to young students in the primary and secondary education.

We would like to draw to the attention of our readers a unique web site which tries to break this barrier:


The above web site uses the power of Wiki multiuser input in order to provide in Greek general information about all issues related to astronomy. It was developed by members of "Orion", the amateur astronomers society of Patras and has been functions since August 2006.

The Governing Council of Hel.A.S. would like to request that all members think of ways to invest some of their time and contribute to this effort. In particular those of us who teach astronomy courses in the University may also want to pass this information to their students and strongly encourage those of them with interest in astronomy to also become active contributors.

This public outreach activity is a great service to the whole Greek community and will likely increase the popularity of the science of astronomy among the general public.


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 edited by Vassilis Charmandaris. It was forwarded to the 267, out of the 279, members of Hel.A.S. who have e-mail access.

The next edition of the Newsletter will be mailed around June 1st 2007. Please send your announcements (e.g. appointments/departures, job openings, research opportunities, awards, conferences in Greece) or comments before May 25, 2007. All correspondence concerning the Newsletter should be addressed to:


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 let us know.


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