Off the top of my dome

The Tribune (NZ) - - CONVERSATIONS - NI­CHOLAS MCBRIDE

Stars, plan­ets and other ce­les­tial bod­ies will soon be vis­i­ble from Palmer­ston North once more.

The city’s ob­ser­va­tory at the top of the An­zac Park look­out has been given a new dome after the pre­vi­ous one was let­ting wa­ter in, dam­ag­ing equip­ment.

Palmer­ston North As­tro­nom­i­cal So­ci­ety pres­i­dent Ian Cooper said the prob­lem had plagued them for years.

The pre­vi­ous dome was 46 years old and let leaks in when it rained.

Cooper said they man­aged to find a re­place­ment in a yard.

‘‘An op­por­tu­nity arose to ac­quire a sec­ond-hand one sit­ting around that was not used for the project it was in­tended.’’

He was pleased with the new dome and hoped it could last as long as it pre­de­ces­sor.

‘‘She looks quite im­pres­sive. It is a new start.’’

A re­fur­bish­ment was planned for the in­side too.

Cooper hoped to have the ob­ser­va­tory re-open in mid win­ter, when they would or­gan­ise reg­u­lar open nights for young and old to see the stars.

Saturn would be vis­i­ble by mid-June.

‘‘The rings will be as wide open as we have ever seen it.’’

Cooper was able to cap­ture the re­cent aurora aus­tralis on cam­era near Opiki.

The South­ern Lights were not of­ten vis­i­ble from Manawatu, be­cause it was so far north.

IAN COOPER

The aurora aus­tralis as seen from Opiki in the Manawatu.

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