VASTROC 2023 Presentations

VASTROC featured an exciting program with 10 talks and a keynote this year:

Session 1

Welcome and Introduction to VASTROC 2023 by Dr Peter Skilton, President, Mornington Peninsula Astronomical Society.

Brian Stephens (MPAS): The James Webb Space Telescope and the Age of the Universe

Recent findings by the JWST have created sensational headlines and viral posts about there being no big bang, and the universe being older than expected. Do these claims have merit? And what about Rajendra Gupta’s claim that the universe is 26.7 billion years old?

Guido Tack (MPAS): Visting JPL

Guido recently had the opportunity to visit NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), to support the first student cohort of the National Indigenous Space Academy (NISA). He will introduce the NISA program and present a virtual tour of the JPL campus.

Judith Bailey (BAS): Keepers of the Night

How can we all contribute to protecting the very thing that
allows us to study the night sky from Earth and what is happening around the world? With an increase in light pollution approaching 10% per
year, the broader environment needs our support to protect the heritage of our dark night.

Session 2

Peter Skilton and John Cleverdon (MPAS): The Cranbourne Meteorite Fall

In the mid-1800’s, the largest known iron meteorite in the world was found by settlers in the township of Cranbourne, where it had rested for about a century. This 3.5 tonne behemoth subsequently proved to be merely the first fragment of a larger parent meteoroid, as further finds have come to light since then. More pieces remain to be found in the surrounding regions that are fast urbanising. This talk summarises the 13 known discoveries so far, shows what can be deduced from them and lays the ground work for future discoveries for educational and scientific purposes before suburbia erases them.

Paul Odgers (LVAS): Astrobiology, Mars & Perseverance

Is there life out there? The more we have sought, the tougher it has proved to find an answer. Perseverance is the Martian rover most capable of finding evidence of past life. Is it capable of proving it? Not only has our understanding of Mars and its past, enhanced it as a possible harbour for life, but in parallel, Life, as we know it, has also been transformed. My talk closes with a tantalising look at a recent biological discovery.

Kelly Clitheroe (ASOG): Dark Skies – A Practical Approach

During this presentation, Kelly will be offering practical suggestions to not only improve your own dark sky experiences, but those in the wider community.

Session 3

Mark Iscaro (ASV): AstroPhoneTography

Are mobile phones capable of doing Astrophotography? Mark (AstroPuNk) takes you on a journey of discovery in the new age of mobile phone imaging & AstroPhoneTography. In this talk he will walk you through the trials and tribulations of using mobile phones with telescopes & how they can produce high quality images.

Giulia Cinquegrana (Monash University): From Hydrogen to Uranium

In this presentation, Giulia will talk about the humble role of stars in the chemical enrichment of the universe.

Madeleine McKenzie (Australian National University): An overview of globular clusters and other dense stellar systems

Globular Clusters are ancient relics of the early Universe. The assumption that these stellar systems are uncomplicated, consisting solely of single stellar populations, is unequivocally incorrect. In this brief overview, I will present observational evidence supporting the intricate nature of globular clusters and will discuss potential formation scenarios that could account for their complexity.

Dinner Talk

Trevor Hand (MPAS): Meteorites

Our Earth, and other solar system bodies are constantly bombarded with meteorites. Hear about some of their origins and see some hands on examples of several well known, and less well known, impacts.

Keynote Talk

Dr Brad Tucker (Australian National University): Space Telescopes, Exploding Stars, and Dark Energy

Most stars end their lives in brilliant explosions known as supernova. These massive bursts briefly outshine all the light from the galaxy wherein they occur. The past 20 years have been a “boom” period for supernovae with vast amounts of time and effort being invested in these objects. Not only are they important for understanding the life of stars, but they can be used as cosmological probes to study what the Universe is made of and how it is growing. This use has shown that the Universe is accelerating in its expansion, the subject of the 2011 Nobel Prize, and is being caused by dark energy which will cause the end of the Universe. I will show how our understanding of these objects has been revolutionized using new techniques including the Kepler Space Telescope and Hubble, and now with TESS and JWST and what this means for the Universe.