What’s up in Space

Enjoy the night sky with us as each week we give you the latest on stargazing and news on space.

KNOW YOUR NIGHT SKIES : THE WEEK'S NIGHT SKY

Our Solar System

  • The Sun is in the zodiacal constellation of Aries. It sets around 5:10pm and rises around 7:20am.
  • The Moon is Waning Gibbous. 
  • Mars – not visible from Wellington is visually in the zodiacal constellation Gemini, but at a distance of 353 million kilometres, or just about 19 light minutes away, so communication with the red planet is very delayed now. 
  • Jupiter rises around 6:30PM, and is in the constellation of Ophiuchus at a real distance of 652 million kilometres or about 36 light minutes from Earth.
  • followed by Saturn and Pluto two hours later, in Sagittarius. We cannot see Pluto with the naked eye. Saturn is 1405 million kilometres away at just over 1 hour and 20 light minutes away – more precisely 78 light minutes whereas Pluto at magnitude 14.3 is 4967 million kilometres away, at about 276 light minutes – more than four and half light hours away. The Solar System is really vast!
  • For early risers: Venus in Aries rises around 5:30 AM but it’s very close to the Sun thus not visible from Wellington. 
  • Mercury is in Taurus, very close to the Sun now so not visible still is 197 million kilometres from Earth, about 11 light minutes away.
  • Neptune is in Aquarius at 4527 million kilometres from Earth or 251 light minutes, just about 4 hours and 20 minutes

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 later on Antares in Scorpius. 

DEEP SKY STARGAZING

The Moon is Waning Gibbous this week, and was full on Sunday.

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 7 PM. Omega Centauri is now well positioned for observing and so is the Jewel Box and of course our neigbouring 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: Monday 03 June at 10:02:06 AM

First Quarter: Monday 10 June at 005:59:30 PM

Full Moon: Monday 17 June at 08:30:20 PM

Last Quarter: Monday 27 May at 04:33:43 AM

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

 

Data compiled with Sky Safari Pro

PODCASTS

Listen to Radio New Zealand’s Megan Welan and our own Haritina Mogoșanu talking about the Moon and space travel and how Easter is being calculated. The Moon and space travel are magical for Bucharest-born Hari Mogoșanu, who loves them so much she has an asteroid named after her. She explains why Easter is the only public holiday that revolves around a new moon and why some years it’s March 22, while and others it’s as late as April the 25th. Hari is pretty certain that the Moon will become the base for human space travel.  

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. 

 

LAST WORD FROM SPACE PLACE

Our Stargazing 101 Course has now ended, thank you so much to everyone who participated it was fantastic to have you there!  

Haritina just visited the Royal Observatory Greenwich. The Royal Observatory is the centre of navigation and time history. It was here that the main advances in navigation were made during the 1700s. There is a natural linkage between this rich history and New Zealand by way of James Cook’s voyages to New Zealand, where he tested the H4 chronometer as well as contributed to the comparison of the time method with the lunar method of finding longitude. Carter Observatory in many ways is like a small version of Greenwich, in that it was important for management of time and for shipping vessels. We share the same historical telescopes, the same prominent position in the capital city. Keep an eye on a new blog coming about my visit there. 

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, Twitter or Instagram. 

Clear skies for the week ahead!

OPENING HOURS

April 15-28 School Holiday Schedule 

Open Daily from 10AM-5:30 PM

And 3 Late Nights

Tuesday:  4pm – 11pm
Friday: 4pm – 11pm
Saturday: 10am –  11pm

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.

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