MIST

Magnetosphere, Ionosphere and Solar-Terrestrial

Latest news

New mailing list for Python in space science

A new mailing list for space scientists who use Python has been founded. Angeline Burrell writes: 

There's been a recent push for more community python development and peer-to-peer support. Much of this is focused in the US at the moment, but as the results of the recent survey showed, MIST scientists are active or interested in python as well. If you would like to become involved, you can join the email list by contacting This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The mailing list will comprise discussion as well as webinars/telecons from Python users, so the list should be useful for a range of abilities with Python. To join, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

New MIST forum via Slack

In the days of yesteryear, there was a MIST forum provided for members of the MIST community to discuss things in a fashion more immediate and informal than email. It has been some years since the fabled MIST forum was a going concern, and in that time, the MIST Council has technically been in violation of the MIST Charter, which states that

MIST will provide an on-line forum to allow ongoing discussions and the formulation of ideas prior to public dissemination. This forum will be private, visible only to registered members; membership is restricted to active MIST scientists and is offered at the discretion of MIST council chair.

As a result of realising that the Charter mandates the maintenance of a forum, MIST Council have chosen to create a Slack workspace for the MIST community. If you would like to join, please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. specifying the email address you would like to use, and you will be invited to join.

MIST Council election results

The polls have closed, and Oliver Allanson (Reading) and John Coxon (Southampton) have been elected to MIST Council. The full results of 2018’s elections are as follows:

  • Oliver Allanson: 56 votes
  • John Coxon: 100 votes
  • Simon Pope: 27 votes
  • Samuel Wharton: 38 votes
  • Darren Wright: 40 votes

121 people cast two votes, and 19 cast a single vote, for a total of 140 responses. This is a turnout of 32.9% against the MIST mailing list, which comprises 426 eligible voters.

The chair of MIST Council, Ian McCrea, said:

I would like to congratulate John on his re-election to MIST Council and to congratulate Oliver on his election – we look forward to you joining us at our next meeting. To the unsuccessful candidates, I would like to say a sincere thank you for taking part and for your interest in being part of MIST Council. Obviously only two candidates can be successful in any given year, but there are elections every year and we hope that you will not be discouraged from standing again at a future date.

MIST Council would like to express their thanks and appreciation to Luke Barnard who is leaving MIST Council, and whose contributions over the last three years have been invaluable. We would also like to thank Q Stanley for handling the technical aspects of the election.

Astronomy/Solar System Advisory Panels call for priority projects

The Astronomy and Solar System Advisory Panels have been asked to identify a few priority projects, comprising 'large scale' (>£50M), ‘medium scale’ (£10-50M) and ‘small scale’ (<£10M) projects that can be started within the next 6 years. The outline business cases put forward by the community will be considered by STFC’s Executive Board and Science Board in September. We will then work with the community and UKRI to identify the best way of taking these ideas forward. 

Interested parties should summarize their ideas for priority projects using the template provided. Only those projects considered to be the most exciting and highest priority (by the Advisory Panels) will be asked to develop an outline business case. Please email your project summary to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (Astronomy) or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (Solar System). If your project has overlap with both astronomy and solar system, then please indicate this in your summary and send to both panels. The deadline is Wednesday 18 July 2018. If you have any questions regarding remit, format or submission, please feel free to contact the relevant Advisory Panel.

Jonathan Eastwood wrote, in his email to the MIST mailing list:

STFC has launched a consultation with research communities, designed to identify new world class science and technology proposals for potential future investment. The aim is to develop an ambitious portfolio of outline business cases for priority projects that relate to our strategic scientific and research infrastructure objectives, covering our remit, and driven by our communities… the scope of the projects is very broad – what is needed are exciting and ambitious scientific projects within the broad remit of astronomy and solar system science. Funds for estates and campus development are out of scope, and projects should not be an uplift to the grant/fellowship lines. This exercise is not part of the Evaluation of Astronomy which STFC will undertake in the Autumn (part of its assessment of the wider astronomy, particle and nuclear physics programmes), but projects identified here will be forwarded to that exercise to ensure information is not lost.

MIST Council would like to urge members of the MIST community to engage with this exercise in order to make sure that MIST science is well-represented in STFC strategy in the future.

Petition to eliminate harassment and bullying

MIST council is committed to fostering an open and inclusive scientific environment.

Many people will have seen the recent reports of bullying and harassment in Universities are becoming more and more widespread. In one of many steps to highlight the need for these actions to stop, an open letter and petition has been prepared by members of the wider community, including faculty from Imperial, UCL, and other UK and international institutions. This cross-institute example underlines the importance of eliminating harassment and bullying from the university and research environments. If you wish to sign the petition, you can find it by clicking here.

Our community is a big part of the RAS, which has a Code of Conduct and a Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Policy that we must adhere to:

  1. Promoting an inclusive environment for all.
    2. Promoting equality of opportunity.
    3. Welcoming applications from all backgrounds.
    4. Supporting and developing careers for all.
    5. Recruiting and promoting staff based on merit, rather than absence or presence of underrepresented characteristics.

We would strongly encourage our community to continue to participate in eradicating these issues from our scientific and every day lives.

MISTs of Time

The first MIST meeting was held in London on 20 August 1970, so we are well into our fifth decade! Henry Rishbeth, who with Peter Kendall was one of the originators of MIST, wrote an authoritative account of the origins and history of MIST to mark the 25th anniversary:

The idea of UK 'Magnetosphere, Ionosphere and Solar-Terrestrial Meetings' originated one evening in October 1969, while driving out from Sheffield to Peter Kendall's home in the Pennines. Peter and I were concerned at the lack of regular contact between UK groups working in the field of solar-terrestrial physics. It seemed that one had to go to international conferences to find out what neighbouring groups were doing! The success of the "Sydney Chapman Meeting" at Sheffield in July 1968, at which the great man himself was present, showed us that scope existed for regular meetings in the UK. We considered setting up a new society but, in conversations with Professor Vincent Ferraro, Mr Jack Ratcliffe and others, it became obvious that we should work through an existing learned society. Through the good offices of Vincent Ferraro, the Royal Astronomical Society took us under its wing. Peter thought up the MIST acronym, though its impact in other languages was not considered.

 

The first MIST Meeting took place in the Scientific Societies' Lecture Theatre, London, on 20 November 1970, with the theme Geomagnetic Storm Effects. The attendance of 200 was overwhelming, and has never been equalled at subsequent meetings. Largely, the audience consisted of astronomers who just came to see what we were up to. Quickly settling down to a more realistic size, MIST meetings were held semiannually at Burlington House, generously supported by the RAS. For many years, MIST was co-sponsored by the Institute of Physics, who provided some publicity. In the early days each MIST meeting had a definite theme. The May meetings suffered from poor attendance, and it was David Orr who solved this problem by inviting us to York in April 1973, for a residential meeting with a wide-ranging programme. This out-of-town meeting was popular, and was followed in 1974 onwards by 'Spring MISTs' at Leicester, Exeter, Aberystwyth ... the list is long, and MIST owes much to the local organizers of the spring meetings. Exceptionally, the Autumn 1974 meeting was held at Queen Mary College; it was planned to be the 'Ferraro Retirement Meeting' but sadly became the 'Ferraro Memorial Meeting'.

 

From the start, MIST meetings have been reported in the QJRAS and the practice continues, thanks to the work of Mike Laird, Anne Hadjiry, and many others. Maintaining the MIST mailing list is no light task; it was done first at the RAS, then at Slough, then for many years by Roy Moffett at Sheffield, and currently by Andy Smith and Margaret Riley at BAS.

 

With the advent of the 'UK Geophysical Assembly', MIST joined UKGA at Edinburgh in 1977, setting a pattern in which MIST sometimes joined with UKGA or with the RAS Out-of-Town meeting, at other times keeping to the traditional 'stand-alone' MIST meeting organized by a local STP group. This mix-and-match plan led to the holding of two successive meetings in Southampton: a 'stand-alone meeting' in 1978 followed by UKGA in 1979, in both cases benefiting from competent organization by the late Pam Rothwell. In 1992 MIST 'went international', with special sessions at the EGS meeting at Edinburgh. The autumn one-day meetings in London have continued successfully at Burlington House till the present day. Sometimes MIST takes part in a regular RAS Geophysical meeting; these so-called 'G/MIST Meetings' have helped to boost the total to 60 meetings in 26 years. MIST has become a forum for all UK STP scientists, sometimes welcoming visitors from overseas, a place for community discussions of wider issues, and above all the place for research students and new postdocs to present their science.

 

Henry Rishbeth

8 March 1996

[A version of this article has been published in Astronomy & Geophysics (1997) 38(2), 20-22.]