100 hours of stargaz­ing at Star­dome

Central Leader - - News - By Rhi­an­non Hor­rell

Chil­dren, par­ents and lo­cal res­i­dents will be count­ing their lucky stars next month.

With the help of a tele­scope, they can search the skies for free at One Tree Hill’s Star­dome Ob­ser­va­tory as part of a 100-hour event.

From 8am on April 2, the ob­ser­va­tory will be open round the clock for so­lar and night-time view­ing un­til noon on April 6.

Hasari Sa­pumo­hotti from Auck­land Nor­mal In­ter­me­di­ate vis­ited the ob­ser­va­tory with a group of stu­dents. The 12-yearold says it was fun.

“We were there for the whole day and we learnt a lot about the or­bits of the moon and the sun.”

Hun­dreds of ob­ser­va­to­ries around the world will be host­ing the 100hour event to cel­e­brate the In­ter­na­tional Year of As­tron­omy.

Star­dome mar­ket­ing as­sis­tant Bar­bara Ley­land says five tele­scopes will be avail­able for use.

More than a mil­lion peo­ple have vis­ited the ob­ser­va­tory since it opened 42 years ago.

“Al­most 50 per­cent of our vis­i­tors are school­child­ren. One piece of ad­vice I would give to the pub­lic is not to try to view the sun without a par­tic­u­lar fil­ter on the tele­scope be­cause it can dam­age the eyes.”

David Brit­ten, an ed­u­ca­tor at the Star­dome cen­tre, says the large Zeiss tele­scope, orig­i­nally from east Ger­many, was in­stalled in 1967.

Auck­land Astro­nom­i­cal So­ci­ety pres­i­dent Grant Christie says the Year of As­tron­omy is a world­wide event and they hope to get as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble looking through tele­scopes.

“The moon will be well-placed and Saturn will be vis­i­ble in the early evening sky. The sun has been fairly quiet, it is not cov­ered in sunspots which is what we like to see,” he says.

Saturn should be vis- ible from 10pm, ris­ing in the east­ern sky.

“The night sky is of­ten seen as mag­i­cal. Un­der­stand­ing that there is a rhyme and rea­son to it all can spark a last­ing in­ter­est in as­tron­omy. It could be a great gift from par­ents to chil­dren to share an ex­pe­ri­ence like this.”

The In­ter­na­tional Year of As­tron­omy cel­e­brates the 400th an­niver­sary of the first use of an astro­nom­i­cal tele­scope by Galileo Galilei.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Starry skies: As­tron­omy ed­u­ca­tor David Brit­ten teaches vis­it­ing pupils about the stars and plan­ets.

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