What’s up in Space

KNOW YOUR NIGHT SKIES : THE WEEK'S NIGHT SKY

Enjoy the night sky each week, as we give you the latest on stargazing.

How to Spot Matariki

Our Solar System

  • The Sun just switched to the zodiacal constellation of Gemeni. It sets around 5:10 pm and rises around 7:45 am.
  • This week, the Moon is a waxing gibbous going from First Quarter on July 9th to Full Moon on 17th of July. 
  • Mercury is in Cancer, very close to the Sun. Is 87 million kilometres from Earth, about 5 light minutes away.
  • Venus is in Gemini and rises around 7:15 AM, is very close to the Sun and not visible. Is at 255 million kilometres from Earth or about 14 light minutes. 
  • Mars – not visible from Wellington is visually in the zodiacal constellation Cancer, but at a distance of 390 million kilometres, or just about 21 light minutes away, so communication with the red planet is very delayed now. 
  • Jupiter rises around 2:20 PM, and is in the constellation of Ophiuchus at a real distance of 664 million kilometres or about 37 light minutes from Earth.
  • Saturn and Pluto rise about two hours after Jupiter and are in Sagittarius. We cannot see Pluto with the naked eye. Saturn is 1351 million kilometres away or 75 light minutes away whereas Pluto at magnitude 14.2 is 4910 million kilometres away, at about 273 light minutes – more than 4 hours and 30 light minutes  away. The Solar System is really vast!
  • Uranus is in Aries. It has a visual magnitude of +5.8 so under a very dark sky and if you have amazingly good eyes you might be able to see it, with the naked eye. It’s at 3000 million kilometres from Earth or about 2hours and 40 light minutes away. 
  • Neptune is in Aquarius at 4392 million kilometres from Earth. It takes light approximately 4 hours to reach us from Neptune.  At a visual magnitude of +7.8 you will need binoculars or telescopes to see it. 

Of course none of the planets make light of their own, what we see are the features of each planet illuminated by the light from the Sun that gets reflected by our Solar System companions.

Stars

  • Milky Way‘s centre is flanked by Jupiter and Saturn and visible at sunset in the east, the edge of our galaxy is towards the constellation Orion setting in the west. 
  • Bright stars on the ecliptic are Regulus in Leo and Spica in Virgo and Antares in Scorpius. 

If you wish to attend a detailed presentation about the night sky, come every first Tuesday of the month to Astronomy on Tap. During these evenings we extend our live sky presentation and go deeper into space. This is a great opportunity to share thoughts and findings with other people interested in space over a refreshments and nibbles.

PODCASTS

Simon Morris from Radio New Zealand talks to Geoffrey Batchen and to our Senior Science Communicator Haritina Mogoșanu. Art historian Geoffrey Batchen has curated Live from the Moon selecting from images that were transmitted to Earth from the Moon. 

What’s in the night sky?
Listen here to the southern hemisphere night sky which is part of The Jodcast – a volunteer podcast about astronomy set up by astronomers based at the University of Manchester’s Jodrell Bank aiming to cover astronomy carried out all over the Earth and beyond..

DEEP SKY STARGAZING

There are beautiful objects you can see in the night sky, some are circumpolar and some are seasonal.

  • An in-depth look at the area between the Southern Cross and the Magellanic Clouds here.
  • Binocular Objects between Southern Cross and the Diamond Cross here.

From Wellington it is always a great time to learn the main asterisms (groupings of stars) that make the main constellations since our light pollution does allow us to observe only the brightest stars.

You can also observe craters on the Moon – here is a comprehensive map of it by Google Moon. 

Milky Way’s centre is now rising around 2:30 PM but it will be visible a couple of hours later. Omega Centauri is now well positioned for observing and so is the Jewel Box and of course our neighbouring galaxies, the Magellanic Clouds. 

THE MOON

On average, the Moon rises or, if it’s already in the sky, sets about 50 minutes later than the previous day, every day.

New Moon: Thursday 01 August at 03:11:55 PM

First Quarter: Thursday 08 August at 05:31:09 AM

Full Moon: Wednesday 17 July at 09:39:22 AM

Last Quarter: Thursday 25 July at 01:18:11 PM

Lunar Eclipse: 17 July 2019, 9:32:11 AM 

 

Data compiled with Sky Safari Pro

LAST WORD FROM SPACE PLACE

We have now constant astronomy and space courses coming up, details are in our What’s On section. 

Next course is Telescope 101.

At Space Place, we open our telescope for viewings every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday night if the weather is on our side. Alternatively, the planetarium live shows is a great place to see our current night skies.  Let us know how it went, or if you have any questions by visiting our Facebook, or Instagram.

Matariki

We observe Matariki from 25 June to 3rd of July, during Tangaroa phase of the Moon. 

Clear skies for the week ahead!

OPENING HOURS

Open 3 Late nights & weekends

Tuesday:  4pm – 11pm*
Friday: 4pm – 11pm*
Saturday: 10am –  11pm*
Sunday: 10am – 5:30pm*

*Last entry is 10pm and 5pm

Last entry at 5pm and 10pm

Closed Monday, Wednesday, Thursday

School bookings available Monday-Friday during school hours.

Closed on Christmas day

During school holidays we are open 7 days

ADMISSION PRICES

Adult $12.50

Senior/student $10

Child (4-16 years) $8

Under four years: free

Family (two adults and up to three children) $39

Bookings are essential for all schools and tour groups

PARKING

Parking is available at Skyline car park, located on Upland Road (charges apply). There are limited parking spaces outside Space Place reserved especially for mobility permit holders.

CONTACT US

HOW TO FIND US

40 Salamanca Rd, Kelburn, Wellington 6012 located at the top of the Cable Car, just a short stroll from the terminus.

Pin It on Pinterest