What’s up in Tuarangi

There are a few changes to how we’re operating under Alert Level 2 Delta. We’re putting a hold on our Telescope viewings for now. We will keep you updated on plans to return the viewing in the coming weeks.

KNOW YOUR NIGHT SKIES : THE WEEK'S NIGHT SKY

OUR SOLAR SYSTEM

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

SEE WITH THE NAKED EYE 

  • The Sun is in the zodiacal constellation of Ophiuchus.
  • The Moon’s is currently in the phase of Waxing Gibbous. The next Full Moon will be Sunday, December 19th.
  • Mercury is in Sagittarius. Is 211 million kilometres from Earth, about 12 light minutes away.
  • Venus is in Sagittarius, visually very close to the Sun. Is at 53 million kilometres from Earth or about 3 light minutes away.
  • Mars is visually in the zodiacal constellation Libra, at a distance of 364 million kilometres, or just about 20 light minutes away, visible at night.
  • Jupiter is in the constellation of Capricornus at a real distance of 794 million kilometres or about 44 light minutes from Earth.
  • Saturn is visually in Capricornus, very close to Jupiter and 1576 million kilometres away or 1.4 light-hours away.

SEE WITH BINOCULARS AND TELESCOPE

  • 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 18 times further away from the Sun than the Earth. Light from Uranus travels for two and a half hours to reach our eyes here on Earth. We cannot see details on Uranus with a telescope on Earth.
  • Neptune is in Aquarius. It’s 29 times further away from the Sun than the Earth. Light takes approximately 4 hours to reach us from Neptune. At a visual magnitude of +8.0 you will need binoculars or telescopes to see it. From this distance, a telescope on Earth cannot see details of on the planet.
  • Pluto in Sagittarius is very close to Jupiter. We cannot see Pluto with the naked eye, as it has a magnitude of +14.4. 34 times further away from the Sun than the Earth, it takes light more than 4 hours and a half to reach us from Pluto. From this distance, a telescope on Earth cannot see details on the dwarf planet.

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.

After dark adaptation and under the very best observing conditions, the average limiting magnitude of the human eye is about magnitude 6.5.

ASTRONOMY ON TAP

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.

RESOURCES

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.
  • If you wish to see how would it be to fly through Matariki watch this video.

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.

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: Monday, January 3rd, 07:33:37AM

First Quarter: Monday, January 10th, 07:11:34AM

Full Moon: Sunday, December 19th, 05:35:03PM

Last Quarter: Monday, December 27th, 03:23:53PM

Data compiled with Sky Safari Pro

LAST WORD FROM SPACE PLACE

Keep an eye out for our astronomy and space courses coming up, details are in our What’s On section.

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.

Clear skies from our team!

ADMISSION PRICES

Adult: $14

Gold Card Holder / NZ Student (NZ ID required): $12

Child (4-16 years): $9

Preschool Child (0-3 years): Free

Family (2 adults and up to 3 children): $45

Friends of Museum Wellington: Free

Please note that children under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult at all times.

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.

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