Stargazers to gather for Tekapo festival

MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD
Last updated 05:00 19/04/2013

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Tekapo will celebrate three days under the stars in October.

The town will host a Starlight Festival, with events including stargazing, lectures, a concert, an essay and poetry competition, documentaries on the night sky, and a photographic exhibition.

Co-organiser John Hernshaw, of Canterbury University's physics and astronomy department, expected at least 1000 people would attend the events.

"It's a celebration of all things to do with the night sky. People are becoming more aware of the importance and value of a pristine night sky," he said.

Prof Henshaw said the International Dark Sky Association declaring the Aoraki-Mackenzie night sky a world heritage reserve had gained huge publicity internationally.

"There has been so much interest in that internationally. Thanks to special light ordinance levels, Mackenzie's sky is essentially free of light pollution," Prof Hernshaw said.

"Tekapo tourist operators have told me that visitor numbers have jumped 20 per cent in the last season, almost entirely off the back of that."

Recently retired United States astronaut Marsha Ivins, a veteran of five Shuttle missions, would also be one of the guest speakers.

The events will take place from October 11 to 13 at several venues around Tekapo, including the community centre and the Mt John Observatory.

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- The Timaru Herald

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