Look after our night sky

How to find Scorpius

For Aotearoa, Scorpius is Te Matau a Māui, the fishhook that Māui used to fish the North Island from the sea. This is an allegory to the fact that when travelling on the ocean, the land looks like it’s being pulled from behind the horizon by an invisible force. In reality, it is the curvature of the Earth that makes it look so.

Māori have a few names for Scorpius: Manaia ki te Rangi in April, May and June, Te Matau a Māui in July, August and September and the prow of the waka of Tamarereti in October and November. The constellation disappears behind the blaze of the Sun at the beginning of December and reappears on the morning sky at the end of the month. There is a direct relationship between the Southern Cross and Scorpius. When the Southern Cross approaches its highest position in the sky, Scorpius will rise in the east and when the Southern Cross is almost at its lowest position in the sky, Scorpius is setting in the west.  

In June, July and August, you will find Scorpius climbing the sky from the east to just north of overhead (zenith). 

While the Pacific navigation tradition assigns a zenith star for each of the Pacific islands, we can say that here in Aotearoa, our zenith stars are the ones that make up te Matau (fish hook) of Māui – in the constellation Scorpius. 

Scorpius is a zodiacal constellation

The stars of Scorpius are in a region of the sky that lies behind the apparent path of the Sun. As all Planets orbit on the same plane around the Sun,  this path also marks the plane of the Solar System. 

The Centre of the Galaxy

Scorpius is very close to the centre of the Milky Way

When we look towards Scorpius, we are looking towards the centre of our galaxy, which is on the edge of the neighbouring constellation, Sagittarius. 

Although the stars of Scorpius are at different distances in space relative to our Solar System, from Earth they look like a very distinctive fish hook shape. To the observers from Europe and Middle Asia, where the constellation only rises about 30 degrees above the horizon, they look like a scorpion crawling around the horizon, hence the name. 

Watch this video about Scorpius, our beautiful winter constellation.

About the Light Pollution Campaign. 


Once a month, around the New Moon you can join our Light Pollution Project as a Citizen Scientist! 

Join in and measure light pollution on your street!

Every month, around New Moon, for about a week, the sky is dark enough to see many stars. This is the perfect time to measure light pollution, by comparing what we should see to what we actually see in the sky. Go out on your street at night a couple of hours after sunset and count the number of stars you see in Scorpius.
Compare your results with the maps we provide. Then report them on the Globe at Night website. We support you to do these activities and if you get stuck just send us a message. 

Follow this link for a step by step guide of what you need to do.

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