Astronomy & Geology Events

Wairarapa:                                            Astronomy Events 2017
The Phoenix Astronomical Society meetings are on the 4th Friday of the month (April is on 25th, combined with HST presentation). This allows us (weather permitting) to hold an observing session after the meeting. 
Public welcome to monthly TPAS meetings but please introduce yourselves, donation appreciated. You must register beforehand for observing sessions:


Friday September 22 at 7:30 pm, at the Clubrooms, 51 Ahiaruhe Road, Carterton


7:30 pm           Society and astronomy news

7:40 pm           Brilliant stars

If you are interested in astronomy you will be aware of the spectacular differences in the nature and environments of the objects we collectively call ‘the planets’. But what about the stars, do they too vary enormously? In this presentation Richard Hall takes us on a journey to explore the nature and the environments of the 12 brightest stars in our night sky. What are future explorers likely to see and encounter if they visit these brilliant stars?

Saturday September 30, at the Clubrooms, 51 Ahiaruhe Road, Carterton (Note: Delayed one week over advertised date)

1 pm    Telescope training session (Phoenix members)

September 30, we will be having a telescope training session at the recreation observatory at Stonehenge Aotearoa. This programme, run by Ian Cooper, is for those who would like to participate in observing sessions for members and the public in the near future. The programme will run for a minimum of two hours.

Stonehenge Public lectures 2017
Use the Stonehenge booking system for Henge events
Full details of local accommodation are available on the accommodation subpage under Booking Your Visit.

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08a Extra Terrestrials sm
Extraterrestrials, Tuesday 15 August, 7pm
Over the last decade hundred of worlds have been discovered around distant stars. Is our world, with its complex biology, just one of a multitude? If other biological worlds and alien civilizations exist in the Galaxy what is their nature and where might we find them? Is or has the Earth been visited by extraterrestrials? What would be the consequences of an encounter with an alien civilisation? Thse are some of the topics under discussion in this presentation. Bookings are essential. Fee: Adults $15, Seniors $12 and School students (primary and secondary) $8.
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The Whale Riders, Saturday 21 October, 7pm
Thousands of years ago the ancestors of the first people of Aotearoa set sail from Southeast Asia. Using the stars they explored the great southern ocean. In this presentation we discuss the legends, star and sea lore, and the techniques used by Polynesian sailors. We look at the migration of people into the Pacific and the migration between islands finally leading to the colonisation of Easter Island and New Zealand. 

Afterwards, weather permitting, we will explore the night sky identifying stars and constellations important to Maori. Bookings are essential. Fee: Adults $15, Seniors $12 and school students (primary and secondary) $8.

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The Zodiac - Signs in the sky, Saturday 25 November, 7pm
To those who can read it, the night sky is a picture book of stories from antiquity. Here are the tales of the gods, heroes and mighty events. These stories are a window into the past that give us insight to the beliefs of our ancestors. Among the most ancient and significant stories are those of the Zodiac. In this presentation we explore the historical facts, myths and legends of the Zodiac which formed a cornerstone to the rise of civilization and world religions. Bookings are essential. Fee: Adults $15, Seniors $12 and school students (primary and secondary) $8
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Stardate 2016                       
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If time allows, everyone who attends Stardate can go on a guided tour of Stonehenge Aotearoa free of charge. Many of 2016 attendees chose to do so.

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IMG 1621 IMG 1622 Crux and CentaurusA

Sigurd Magnusson took this shot of the Milky Way over Stonehenge Aotearoa

Milky Way over Stonehenge
Photos by
Katrina Borthwick
Sigurd Magnusson
Ian Cooper
Edwin Rodley

Photos taken on Friday 8 - Sunday 10 Jan 2016 - Attended by 80 adults plus children. Many thanks to all those involved in this very successful event including organisers, speakers and participants.
Book early for Stardate 2017 to secure a place. 

Tour of the Planets Review
During the weekend of 13th to 15th of May, just under 40 people enjoyed a comprehensive tour of the solar system.   While the skies had been stunning for weeks prior to the event, unfortunately wind and clouds prevented the use of telescopes over this time.  Never-the-less the excellent presentations, personal learning, social connections and in-depth discussions created an enthusiastic buzz that participants will long remember.
Friday evening saw presentations covering all aspects of the solar system from the oldest Greek astronomers, to the latest discoveries and the many different types of worlds and objects it encompasses.  A sturdy group of long-lasters stayed for a late night sci-fi fix when observing had to be cancelled.
Into the weekend proper, Saturday morning started early with the kid’s astronomy lead by George.  The number of kids was easily matched or exceeded by the number of much older individuals.  Saturday was very busy with talks on solar storms and their enormous impact on our planet and issues with global conservation.  A voyage to the Ice Giants was then presented including the current hunt for the elusive ninth planet, far out in the distant reaches of the solar system.
Ian Cooper again amazed participants with his knowledge of the oppositions of Mars over the years and Richard followed this up with an in-depth examination of Mars from the past to the present.  Delving into ancient cultures and records, Louise Thomas explained the development of many of our modern units of time and the division of the year into months, weeks and days.  Why is the week 7 days rather than 6, why not a five-day week?
Saturday's presentations were rounded out by Kay's exposition, delving into the wonderful jewel that is Saturn.  We were treated to the latest theories about the rings, a look at the moons and an examination of the planet itself.  For most people the evening then ended with a laser tour of the night sky lead by Ian.  The laser danced around the clouds and at times we could not help but be impressed when he told us that a certain star or constellation, was right up there just behind that cloud.  Finally, a few intrepid stalwarts hunkered down to enjoy historical sci-fi with a viewing of "The Thing."
The next day rolled along and there we were, Sunday already.  An exciting section of the programme still to go.  Ian began proceedings with an in-depth look at comets.  He looked at their origins, features, and some of the historical drawings and photos explaining how people reacted to these portents in the sky. 
The final day continued with the exploration of the dwarf planets, focusing mainly on Ceres and Pluto.  Edwin amazed the audience with photographs and explanations of the most recent visits to these tiny worlds.  The final fate of our own star was expertly covered by Dr Dennis Sullivan in his explanations of White Dwarfs and some of the related bizarre objects out in the stellar garden of our galaxy.
Once again Richard moved to the presenter’s podium and delivered a treatise on Jupiter, explaining how it is more like the sun than just another planet.  We looked at the "sub-solar-system" it commands and how these moons are each unique and fascinating.  We viewed rings and electromagnetic fields and how these phenomena create an environment dangerous for mankind, but possibly harbouring life.
Throughout this weekend the meal times and tea and coffee breaks provided opportunities to question and discuss the presentation topics and other astronomical practicalities.  These social times are in many ways as important as the formal programme itself and were enjoyed by all who attended.  Cameron Smart followed the afternoon tea with a historical look at the development of radar and radio astronomy by New Zealanders since its earliest times.  We learned about war time secrets and how in some ways New Zealand led the world is areas of radar development.
Rounding out the weekend Kay took us on a tour of the newest discoveries for solar systems beyond our own.  The presentation of exo-planets and how they were found in the late 20th century, through to the latest sophisticated technologies looking for these amazing worlds.  Kay's talk finished the weekend on a high note that tickled the imagination and made one want to enjoy another weekend like this in the future.
Finally, I would like to express thanks to all the presenters and quiet background workers who made this amazing weekend so much of a buzz.  Congratulations to all those who enjoyed the weekend and a note to any who missed, make sure you keep your eye on the calendar for future events.  This really was a brilliant experience.
Paul Curry

Review by Louise Thomas:

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Open 10am to 4pm:

For further details: click here

 Private Tours can be arranged on any day at a time by appointment.




Phone: (06) 377 1600
Postal address: P.O. Box 156, Carterton 5743
Street address: 51 Ahiaruhe Road, R.D.2 Carterton, 5792
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