Stargazing celebration

Last updated 11:50 03/04/2014
tekapo night sky
SUPPLIED/ Maki Yanagimachi, Earth&Sky
STARRY-EYED: Astronomy month during April will see a number of activities in South Canterbury.

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Millions of eyes will gaze upon the night sky this April and South Canterbury stargazers will be among them.

The South Canterbury Astronomers Group (SCAG) is encouraging budding astronomers and astronomy enthusiasts to take part in the world's largest astronomy celebration.

SCAG founder Robert McTague said the global astronomy month was one of the major astronomy events on their calendar and as part of the celebration, the association is offering people free observation sessions on April 5.

"To celebrate the event, we are conducting solar observation sessions in the Mitre 10 car park from 10am till 3pm.

"We will be looking at the sun with specialised telescopes."

From 7pm on the same day, night sky observation will be open to the public at the Piazza.

Since the event's inception from 2-4 million people have observed the night sky, McTague said.

On April 26, Geraldine stargazers will have a similar event to look forward to.

"We will have solar observing at the village green from 10am onwards and the Geraldine observatory will be open to the public from 7pm onwards to observe the night sky," he said.

For more information on the astronomy-related events taking place during April go to

Another event will be the Earth & Sky Global Star Party at Lake Tekapo, also on Saturday, April 5.

The star party will take place at Cowan's Observatory, five minutes from Tekapo, at the heart of the Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve.

Knowledgeable astronomy guides will use powerful telescopes and lasers, including Cowan's Observatory's 14in (35cm) telescope in a dome, to introduce people to the night sky.

Shuttles will depart the Earth and Sky office from 7.30pm at 10-minute intervals from 7.30 till 9.30pm.

The shuttles will return from the observatory during the night up until 10.30pm.

Warm clothing is essential and people are told to expect freezing temperatures.

They should bring blankets, torch, binoculars, thermos, gold coins for the sausage sizzle and soft drinks.

There are no toilet facilities at Cowan's Observatory.

Pre-bookings are $15 an adult and $30 a family.

All are welcome. Children should be accompanied by an adult.

The back-up evening is on Sunday, April 6, 6.30 till 9.30pm.

Contact Earth & Sky on 03 6806 960 or for bookings or more information.


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- South Canterbury


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