8 great stargazing spots

8 great stargazing spots Mt John Observatory 8 great stargazing spots
8 great stargazing spots Great Barrier 8 great stargazing spots
8 great stargazing spots Space Place 8 great stargazing spots

We’ve put together a list of eight great stargazing spots around the country worth checking out

Stardome – Cornwall Park, Auckland

Stardome offers a range of activities and educational programmes to suit all levels. Head along on Wednesday-Sunday nights for the ‘Our Night Sky’ experience, where you’ll get a tour of the stars, planets and constellations, plus an opportunity to head outside and look through the telescopes to spot all sorts of celestial wonders.

Great Barrier Dark Sky Sanctuary

For a truly incredible experience of the night sky, Aotea/Great Barrier Island is the place to be. Perfectly positioned on the outer edge of the Hauraki Gulf, Great Barrier has virtually no light pollution and is now an official Dark Sky Sanctuary.

Paid tours are available, or you can head over yourself and simply enjoy the sky at its darkest, and most beautiful. Be sure to check out our recent article on travelling to Great Barrier by RV in MCD issue 179.

Space Place – Wellington Museum

Space Place is home to some awesome astronomical exhibits, interactive galleries, and a digital full-dome planetarium.

The planetarium is available on weekends and Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday evenings, and offers a live presentation of the night sky over New Zealand (even when it’s cloudy). On a clear night you can look through the historic Thomas Cooke telescope and roam the southern skies.

Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve

Aoraki Mackenzie in the South Island is a gold-rated dark sky reserve, thanks to its light-pollution-free skies. The reserve is in the Mackenzie Basin and spans 4300sq km.

The Mount John Observatory is located within the reserve and is operated by the University of Canterbury. There are several operators now providing tours, including visits to the observatory.

Perpetual Guardian Planetarium – Otago Museum

Learn about stars, constellations, deep sky objects and more at the Otago Museum’s state-of-the-art dome. Head along to ‘The Sky Tonight’ live presentations, which explore the Otago skies. Shows run daily and are around 45 minutes long.

Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre, Canterbury

Learn all about black holes, the discoveries of early astronomers, and the latest scientific breakthroughs about the universe.

A tribute to the late, great Sir Edmund, this 126-seat, custom-designed theatre is the world’s only theatre with 2D, 3D, and a Digital Dome Planetarium all within the same space.

Geraldine Observatory

This private observatory can be booked for tours hosted by Peter Aldous, an amateur astronomer with many years of experience. Peter’s knowledge and passion for the night sky combine to provide a memorable night of stargazing for all ages. Bookings can be made at geraldineobservatory.co.nz.

Planetarium North

Heading to Northland and fancy a night with the stars? Planetarium North in Whangarei has a great autumn programme that offers guaranteed viewing, no matter the weather.

The planetarium is open only on Saturday evenings for guided tours, after which you can head to the observatory to look through the telescopes.

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