2019 Burbidge Dinner - Friday 22 November 2019

After Dinner Lecture:

"The Galactic Centre - a Window into the Future"

Professor Joss Bland-Hawthorn, (Director, Sydney Institute of Astronomy, University of Sydney)


The centre of our Galaxy harbours a massive black hole Sgr A* that is likely to be the oldest component of the Galaxy

along with the invisible dark matter around it. How this amazing object came into existence and evolved over 13 billion

years is intimately linked to the nature of the first stars, the chemical elements today and the evolution of dark matter

and gas. Sgr A* is one of the fastest developing fields in astrophysics where discoveries are made every year.

For example, the most energetic particles ever detected by IceCube in Antarctica, and by telescopes in Namibia

and Argentina, are thought to have been created at the Galactic Centre. Our x-ray and infrared satellites pick up flaring

activity near the black hole each day. The speaker discovered that Sgr A* triggered a huge explosion about 2 million

years ago, when cave people walked the Earth; this was recently confirmed by NASAs Fermi gamma-ray satellite.

The new ESO Gravity instrument tracks the motion of the closest stars to Sgr A* and detects movement every single

day! One star even reaches 32,000 km/s at closest approach, 12% of the speed of light. Other stars have escaped the

Sgr A* region being ejected at speeds of 2000 km/s into the Galaxy. So what does the future hold and what can we

learn from these remarkable observations? We will explore these topics and some crazy ideas.


Joss Hawthorn is one of Australias leading astronomers with the rare distinction of having made important contributions to both astrophysics and technology. He was born in Kent, educated at an Oxford boarding school before going to university in Birmingham (BSc) and Sussex (PhD). In the period 1985-1993, Joss was an astrophysicist at the Institute for Astronomy in Hawaii and a professor of physics at Rice University Texas. In 1993, he moved to the Anglo-Australian Observatory, Sydney, eventually to become Head of the research and development team.

Today, he is the Laureate Fellow Professor of The University of Sydneys School of Physics, and Director of the Sydney Institute for Astronomy, co-Director of the Institute of Photonics and Optical Science, and Principal Investigator for the Sydney Astrophotonic Instrumentation Labs. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and the Optical Society of America, serves on the prestigious Annual Reviews of Astronomy & Astrophysics Board, has published over 700 research papers in astronomy, physics, optics and photonics, and has been recognized with many international awards (see below), most recently the Miller Professorship to Berkeley (2018).

Josss team are building advanced machines, some funded by NASA, that are being installed on the worlds largest telescopes. In April 2017, one of his creations was launched on an Atlas-V rocket from Cape Canaveral on its way to the International Space Station, the first Australian university to do so. Joss lives in Mosman by Sydney harbour with his wife Susan and boys Christian and Luke. He is a jogger, a sculls rower at the North Shore Rowing Club and plays soccer for Mosman O35.

As well as our guest speaker there will be the prize giving for the New Zealand Astrophotography Competition including the Harry Williams Trophy for the supreme winner, and the Beaumont Writing Prize. A spectacular venue, great meal, cash bar and ample free parking

Date: Friday, 22nd November 2019
Venue: Ellerslie Events Centre, 
Pakuranga Hunt Room
Start Time: 7:00pm (doors open at 6:30pm)

Tickets: $65 pp, earlybird price of $60.00 is available until 31st October. Includes a buffet dinner.
Tickets can be booked: -by email at events@astronomy.org.nz -by phone to Niven on 021 935 261 or Bill on 021 225 8175

PO Box 24-187, Royal Oak, Auckland 1345.          For all enquiries: email the Treasurer          Website by Moore IT