Summer stargazing in Northland


Full Moon, Red Moon, Super Moon, Blue Moon

Some explanation required here. You are no doubt familiar with the Full Moon, but perhaps you never noticed that it only ever happens in the east when you can draw a straight line from the Sun through the centre of the Earth and out to the Moon.

Occasionally that straight line works not only in a top-down or birds-eye view of the solar system, but also edge on. Now you have the Moon passing through the Earth's shadow and instead of reflecting direct sunlight, it reflects light filtered through our atmosphere so becomes blood red. 

As because the Moon's orbit is slight eliptical, sometimes it is closer (360,000km) and other times further away (405,000km). When it's nice and close it looks about 15% larger than normal hence people have started calling it a Super Moon.

So on February 1, from 1am till 4am, you can view a Full, Red, Super Moon in Whangarei. If we were on the other side of the international date line it would still be January and qualify as a Blue Moon, so yes our Alaskan friends are going to be seeing a Full, Red, Super Blue Moon! Oh, and they also call it a Snow Moon.

Summer Stargazing

We are lucky to live in a region where light pollution is minimal, but our late sunset does mean we have to wait until it's really dark enough to enough the summer sky. 

The planetarium tours operate until early December and with the indoor sky we don't have any problems seeing the objects of interest, but out at the beach you'll probably want to wait until 10 during December / January before you can see the treasures.

Come December the best viewing of Matariki is possible at sunset, give it a go! There is also the Moon, easy to recognise and often surprising how much detail you can see through binoculars and telescopes. 

Saturn Mercury & Moon, November 2017

Viewing targets for Summer

Matariki Pleadies Suburu 

Follow Orion's belt north at you'll find the stars of Matariki. 

Summer is their best viewing, easy to see naked eye but awesome in our astro-binoculars.

Orion Nebula, Summer viewing

Orion's nebula (M42) is the bright object his sword, seens as a star to the naked eye.

BUT, this is a nursery for new stars and planets. The whole Orion region is rich with deep sky objects that telescopes can reveal, even better if you attach a camera.

For our standard public schedule and prices, download our brochure