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. 

As of July 2016 we have over 150 paid up members and a mailing contact list of over 500. If you have any interest in science either give us your e-mail address so we can send you details of our events or join our growing society. Science is alive and well in Nelson!

SCIENCE STORY OF THE WEEK: In a first, natural selection defeats a biocontrol insect:


Thursday, June 1st, 7.30pm. Astronomy Section monthly meeting. Cawthron Seminar Room, Milton Street.
When Black Holes Collide. Prof Jana Levin, Barnard College.

When black holes collide, the energy of the event generates intense
gravitational waves. These waves were predicted by Einstein in his theories,
but scientists have only recently been able to detect them experimentally.
Barnard College professor and astronomer Janna Levin will share her
scientific research on the first recordings of a gravitational wave from the
collision of two black holes 1.3 billion years ago.

Janna J. Levin is an American theoretical cosmologist. She earned a PhD in
theoretical physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1993,
and a Bachelor of Science in astronomy and physics with a concentration in
philosophy at Barnard College in 1988. Much of her work deals with looking
for evidence to support the proposal that our universe might be finite in
size due to its having a nontrivial topology. Other work includes black
holes and chaos theory. Since January 2004, she has been a professor of astronomy and physics at Barnard
College of Columbia University. She is author of the science books "Black
Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space" and ""How the Universe Got Its
Spots" as well as the novel "A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines".

June 2nd, 7:00 pm. Star Party. Cawthron Atkinson Observatory which is on the grounds of the Clifton Terrace School. All welcome. Gold coin donation for EVERYONE please.

Wednesday June 7th 5.30 pm.  TALK: Dr Bruno Lemke - "The global consequences of increased heat stress due to climate change". Venue: The Suter Lecture theater.

PLEASE NOTE: The Royal Society have asked that people register to guarantee a seat as demand is expected to be high. Please go here:

Dr Bruno Lemke is a senior lecturer at NMIT. He will be giving a talk on how Climate Change increases workplace heat streaa, affecting work capacity and occupational health, including kidney disease and other health outcomes related to heat and dehydration. Working people slow down or take frequent breaks to compensate and as a result, reduced productivity creates economic losses.

Researchers in Nelson: how can we possibly alter the course of climate change?

This presentation will outline research undertaken by the Ruby Coast Research Centre and our successes or otherwise in influencing world attitude to climate change. As NZ is not a major player in climate change nor will there be significant consequences here (people will move to higher ground), our research involves other countries (India, China, Australia, USA, Europe).

Our research primarily focusses on workers who generate heat while they work and as temperature or humidity increases there will be less ability to cool down while working. This leads to a reduced output so productivity goes down and health risk increase. For a person working at moderate intensity (300W) the loss of annual productivity due to increasing heat at the end of this century (assuming no additional cooling methods) can be substantial; for instance, the losses based on current global climate policies will be 8% per annum in India, 6% in Vietnam and 7% in Nigeria. Countries with large cooler areas will experience lower impacts: for instance, the losses in China would be 2% per annum and in the USA 1.4%. Such losses will reduce local and national economic outputs and impact on GDP and the ability to make a living in the hottest areas.

Our research journey from 2005 will be outlined with members of the team demonstrating their contribution to successes on the global stage and suggesting where the research can go to help form political attitudes to the risks of climate change to our civilisation. Collaborative work with the World Health Organization, The International Labour Organization, The United Nations Development Program, The International Organization for Migration, the European Union and the Wellcome Trust will be outlined as well as conference presentations.

Stricter global climate policies are needed, and further research is essential to develop health impact assessments essential for decision-making to protect millions of working people in vulnerable countries.

This lecture is part of the Royal Society Te Apārangi 150th Anniversary series. Professor Richard Bedford, the President of Royal Society Te Apārangi , will also give a brief talk and show a short video of highlights of the last 150 years.