The Dark Side of Lighting

Light pollution is an increasing problem threatening not only astronomy, but also human health, eco systems, safety and our human heritage.  But being dark sky friendly does not mean no light – it means using the light that you need for a particular task in the most efficient manner possible. 

Find out what you can do to save energy, money and keep the skies as natural as possible in this free illustrated talk with Steve Butler, Director of the Dark Skies Group, signatory to the NZ Urban Design Protocol and member of the International Dark-Sky Association, an educational organisation working to preserve the natural night skies worldwide.

When: Tuesday 6th October, 7pm

Where: Central Library (Victoria Street)

Black holes & Big bangs – Einstein’s gravity

What are the implications of Einstein’s theory of gravity for astronomy and cosmology?  What happens if you add quantum physics to the mix?  And why should we be interested?  The physics community have been racking their brains on these aspects for the last ninety years and in this illustrated talk Professor Matt Visser from Victoria University will present a non-technical and easy to understand description of some of the key issues.  You won’t need a degree in physics or anything to enjoy this free talk – just a general interest in astronomy or science. 

 Come along to find out more on Wednesday 9th September, 7pm at Central Library (Victoria Street) as we continue to celebrate the International Year of Astronomy!

The Great Comets of Our Time – how do they compare with the past?

What makes a ‘Great Comet’, and how do the Great Comets of our lifetime compare with the legendary comets of the historical era? Many New Zealanders have had opportunities to marvel at these rare phenomena – including the famous Comet Halley in 1986, and more recently Comet McNaught in January 2007 with its impressive rooster tail.

Come on a journey through time and space with Ian Cooper from Palmerston North Astronomical Society as he compares the Great Comets of our time with those in the past, and witness for yourself these spectacular visions that have heralded the death of kings and other momentous events in human history

When: Wednesday 12 August, 7-8pm

Where: Central Library (Ground Floor), 65 Victoria Street

Now’s your chance to see the Cosmodome

The NightVisionz Cosmodome has been a big hit this week with over 2000 school children scheduled to visit it over a four day period.  But the dome’s not just for school groups – everyone gets their chance to visit in the late afternoon and evening.  There are two days left (4pm until 8pm Friday and 10am until 4pm on Saturday) so come along and explore the night sky (gold coin donation).  Astronomer Ron Fisher will take you on a journey of constellations including Matariki – you’ll find there’s something for everyone.

If you want more encouragement, the Dominion Post visited on Tuesday: read their article “Portable igloo gives a galactic experience” for their report of the experience.

Check out the Cosmodome!

cosmodomeThe Young Adults area at Central Library is about to be transformed into a planetarium as it hosts the NightVisionz Cosmodome. Using a digital audio visual show to simulate the stars and a dome large enough to take 30 people inside at a time, visitors will be able to literally step into a journey through the night sky and learn about Matariki and other constellations with astronomer Ron Fisher.

The Cosmodome is a great experience for children and adults alike and will be open to the public from 4-8pm from Tuesday 9th to Friday 12th June and 10am-4pm on Saturday 13th June. Entry is by gold coin donation and sessions are on the half hour – just turn up (please allow a little extra time as the number of people allowed in the dome during each session is limited and there may be a short wait).

Armchair Astronomy

365 Days of Astronomy  (where a new astronomy podcast is posted daily during the International Year of Astronomy ’09), had a recent post about ‘citizen science’, or science that is accessible at an amateur level. In addition to many other intergalactic gems, the podcasters spoke about BOINC, an open-source software platform which enables anyone’s PC to assist with scientific research (including the discovery of pulsars!); Stardust @ Home, a search for interstellar dust particles using a special ‘virtual microscope’; and GalaxyZoo, where you can classify whole galaxies by their shape.  Listen to the podcast for more information!

Tour the planets!

What would you need to know to survive a tour of the planets? Forget a Lonely Planet guide – let Ross Powell from the Wellington Astronomical Society take you on a tour through the solar system using some of the latest space probe images.

Explore these wonders and discover the hidden secrets of the solar system as we celebrate the International Year of Astronomy 2009.

7pm, Wednesday 15 April
Ground floor of the Central Library, 65 Victoria Street