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 Pisces. It sets around 07:10PM and rises around 07:37AM.
  • This week, the Moon’s current phase is first quarter, it will become a full moon on Wednesday the 8th of April.
  • Mercury is in Aquarius. Is 154 million kilometres from Earth, about 9 light minutes away.
  • Venus is in Taurus and rises around 11:44AM, shining very bright at sunset. Is at 97 million kilometres from Earth or about 5 light minutes. 
  • Mars is visually in the zodiacal constellation Capricornus, at a distance of 218 million kilometres, or just about 12 light minutes away, visible in the morning sky. 
  • Jupiter rises around 01:01AM, and is in the constellation of Sagittarius at a real distance of 794 million kilometres or about 44 light minutes from Earth.
  • Saturn is visually in Sagittarius, and 1539 million kilometres away or 85 light minutes (1 hour and 35 mins away approx). 

Jupiter and Saturn from Wellington. Credit @Space_Samuel

 

SEE WITH BINOCULARS AND TELESCOPE

  • Uranus is in Aries. It has a visual magnitude of +5.9 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 3100 million kilometres from Earth or about 172 light minutes away approx. 
  • Neptune is in the evening sky, in Aquarius at 4615 million kilometres from Earth. It takes light approximately 4 hours to reach us from Neptune. At a visual magnitude of +8.0 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 5112 million kilometres away, at about 285 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 preparing to reappear for beyond the horizon and while we wait for it, we can see lovey Venus after sunset. The edge of our galaxy is towards the constellation Orion which is in the the north-eastern part of the sky 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. 

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 April 23rd 02:25:54PM

First Quarter: Friday May 1st 08:38:25AM

Full Moon: Wednesday April 8th 02:35:37PM

Last Quarter: Wednesday April 15th 10:56:14AM

 

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!

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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