What’s up in Space

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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 Capricornus. It sets around 08:51PM and rises around 06:11AM.
  • This week, the Moon is a waning crescent, next it will become a new moon on the 25th of January.
  • Mercury is in Capricornus. Is 203 million kilometres from Earth, about 11 light minutes away.
  • Venus is in Aquarius and rises around 09:27AM, shining very bright at sunset. Is at 173 million kilometres from Earth or about 10 light minutes. 
  • Mars is visually in the zodiacal constellation Scorpius, at a distance of 304 million kilometres, or just about 17 light minutes away, visible in the morning sky. 
  • Jupiter rises around 04:40AM, and is in the constellation of Sagittarius at a real distance of 918 million kilometres or about 51 light minutes from Earth.
  • Saturn is visually in Sagittarius, and 1647 million kilometres away or 92 light minutes (1 hour and 35 mins away approx). 

Jupiter and Saturn from Wellington this time of the year. Credit @Space_Samuel

 

SEE WITH BINOCULARS AND TELESCOPE

  • Uranus is in Aries. Early in the morning. It has a visual magnitude of +5.7 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 2955 million kilometres from Earth or about 163 light minutes away approx. 
  • Neptune is in the evening sky, in Aquarius at 4578 million kilometres from Earth. It takes light approximately 4 hours to reach us from Neptune. At a visual magnitude of +7.9 you will need binoculars or telescopes to see it. 
  • Pluto in Sagittarius. We cannot see Pluto with the naked eye, as it has a magnitude of 14.4 is 5227 million kilometres away, at about 291 light minutes – more than 4 hours and 30 light. 

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

STARS

Milky Way’s centre is now well beyond the horizon and you can see lovey Venus after sunset. The edge of our galaxy is towards the constellation Orion which is in the east at sunset. 

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.

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. 

Achernar and the two Magellanic Clouds are in a good position to observe in December.

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: Saturday January 25th 10:42:06AM

First Quarter: Sunday February 2nd 02:41:37PM 

Full Moon: Sunday February 9th 08:32:16PM

Last Quarter: Sunday February 16th 11:17:19AM

 

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 for the week ahead!

OPENING HOURS

Summer Hours
13 December – 10 February

Monday 10am – 5:30pm
Tuesday 10am – 11pm
Wednesday 10am – 5:30pm
Thursday 10am – 5:30pm
Friday 10am – 11pm
Saturday 10am – 11pm
Sunday 10am – 5:30pm

Last entry is 10pm and 5pm

During the school term visitors are welcome;

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

Last entry is 10pm and 5pm

(2020 School Term dates; Term 1, Monday 10 February –  Friday 10 April, Term 2, Tuesday 28 April – Friday 3 July, Term 3, Monday 20 July – Friday 25 September, Term 4, Monday 12 October – Friday 18 December)

 

Our team of Space educators are exciting young minds and helping to build our future in space exploration. We teach early childhood up to year 13 students.

School bookings available Monday-Friday during school hours, 9am-2.30pm.

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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