I spent this last weekend at Mt John Observatory, the University of Canterbury astronomical research facility, on a stargazing expedition organised by the University of Canterbury’s Alumni & Development office.
Needless to say it was interesting and informative: I got to look at and through a variety of telescopes, as well as seeing stars(!), experiencing the amazing location, and enjoy briefings from a number of the people associated with the Mt John Observatory, including:
- Alan Gilmore, one of the UC Mt John Observatory resident superintendents
- Dr Karen Pollard, of the UC’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, Director of the observatory
- Graeme Murray of Earth and Sky Ltd talking about the newly established Dark Sky Reserve
And those “stars” I got to see included Saturn, Uranus, Alpha Centauri—including seeing both stars in the binary, the Tarantula nebula, the Jewel Box globular cluster and one other, much older cluster.
We also looked at the the moon, which I have to say was looking rather spectacular!
Plus looking at film taken of the aurora australis (Southern Lights) from the observatory.
So as Oscar Wilde would have it (although am adapting slightly): even if not quite lying in the gutter, I have definitely been looking at the stars!