100 hours of stargazing at Stardome
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.
Starry skies: Astronomy educator David Britten teaches visiting pupils about the stars and planets.