The Nelson Science Society

Welcome to the webpage of the Nelson Science Society (NSS) and its constituent, the Astronomy Section. The NSS is a branch of the Royal Society of New Zealand and exists to promote science within the Nelson/Tasman region - we do this by holding regular scientific talks from a variety of experts throughout the year and by promoting science education in schools and colleges.

The Astronomy section is run as an independent constituent of the NSS and maintains its own program of events (see Astronomy Section pages for full details and newsletter). Please bookmark this website to see details of all upcoming events sponsored by the NSS and its Astronomy section (and other events of interest), and to see details of past activities etc.

STOP THE PRESS: Barry Korcheski's talk tomorrow (Tuesday 3rd 7.30pm) at NMIT (see below).

Also: To celebrate International Women’s Day, the Association of Women in Science Nelson Branch is hosting a networking breakfast. Join us to hear about the past, present and potential challenges faced by women in science with guest speakers Danette Olsen (Plant & Food Research) and Dr Pamela Williams (EnviroSchools Founder and Cawthron Trustee).

Monday 9th March, 7.15am at Panama Kitchen Bar, Nelson ($20 plus Event Brite booking fee). Tickets essential (limited spaces):  http://www.eventbrite.com/e/awis-international-womens-day-breakfast-715am-arrive-tickets-15505257643?aff=efblike


Next events:

Tuesday, 3rd March, 7.30pm. Rosetta – How are you? The Rosetta Mission...from science fiction to science fact. Barry Korcheski. Room A211 at NMIT, all welcome.  NSS members entry is free, all others gold coin donation please.

Launched in 2004, the Rosetta spacecraft has taken over 10 years to chase and catch up to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.  Rosetta's lander, Philae has now landed on the comet and scientific data is being relayed fast and furious back to Rosetta Mission Headquarters at the European Space Agency in Germany and France.

Barry Korcheski, active local astronomer and member of the Astronomy Section of the Nelson Science Society, will give a presentation on the Rosetta Mission with updates and latest discoveries that have been made.  There will also be discussion about some of the surprising discoveries, particularly the D/H ratio (Deuterium/Hydrogen ratio) showing a reading more than three times greater than for Earth's oceans.

As part of the presentation, background information on the Asteroid Belt, the Oort Cloud, and other cosmic objects traveling within or around our solar system will be covered as they relate to Rosetta's discoveries.

Tuesday, 17th March, 7.00pm.The spark of life. Prof Francis Ashcroft. 2015 Royal Society of New Zealand Distinguished Speaker. Maitai Room, Rutherford Hotel. Bookings: ALL TICKETS HAVE NOW GONE, IT IS A FULL HOUSE. If people have tickets but discover they can’t attend, please cancel your registration or contact: lectures@royalsociety.org.nz so the tickets can be released to other people.In case of no-shows, you are welcome to queue at the door on the night.  We will fill all empty seats just before the talk begins but we cannot be held responsible if no seats are available.

Ever wondered what makes us human? We are familiar with machines being powered by electricity but perhaps not so aware that this is also true of ourselves. Electric signals in our cells drive everything we think, feel or do. These signals are produced by some amazing proteins which are currently at the forefront of scientific research – the ion channels. They are found in every cell on Earth and govern every aspect of our lives from consciousness to sexual attraction, our ability to see and hear and the beating of our hearts. Can someone really die of fright? Why do chilli peppers taste hot? How do cocaine, LSD and morphine work? Frances weaves real-life stories with the latest scientific findings, including an account of her own discoveries, to explain the fundamental role of ion channels in our bodies and why they truly are the ‘spark of life’.


Frances Ashcroft is a Royal Society Research Professor at the University of Oxford and director of OXION, a training and research programme on the physiology of ion channels. Her ground-breaking research has shown how changes in blood glucose levels regulate insulin secretion from the pancreas and how this process is impaired in type 2 diabetes. She discovered the ion channel that serves as the molecular link between glucose elevation and insulin secretion. Mutations in these channel genes cause a rare inherited form of diabetes (neonatal diabetes), and her work has enabled patients with this disorder to switch from insulin injections to drug therapy.

Frances has received many awards, most recently the European Laureate for the L’Oréal/UNESCO For Women in Science Awards 2012. She was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London in 1999.

27 March 8:00 pm. Astronomy section star party. Cawthron Atkinson Observatory which is on the grounds of the Clifton Terrace School. Gold coin donation.