About 60 people braved the early morning chill at the Kuaotunu Domain at 5.00 am on Saturday morning. It was the fourth public viewing event to promote the Kuaotunu Dark Sky Community project. Everyone got to have a glimpse of Matariki rising over Blackjack and enjoy good telescope views of Jupiter with its cloud bands and four moons along with Saturn and its rings. At dawn, a
lovely crescent Moon was also on view. The very visible dome of light pollution over Whitianga was a stark reminder of just why the group is trying to preserve what we still have before it’s too late. I well remember seeing the southern lights or Aurora Australis on a fairly regular basis from Stargazers back in the 1980’s but this is no longer possible as a consequence of the insidious growth of this light dome. The presence of our local MP, Scott Simpson along with representatives from TCDC and Destination Hauraki Coromandel was a welcome sign of the wide support this project is gaining, not just from the locals but also from all levels of government. Despite the clouds getting in the way for much of the time, everyone enjoyed the atmosphere and delicious sausages along with a hot drink. We can’t forget the extra treat of a Mars bar and free star chart offered to everyone by young Thomas Scorgie to take home along with our memories.
Caption: Alastair Brickell and others at the Kuaotunu Matariki gathering.