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Puaka-Matariki – A Celebration of our Southern Stars

Saturday 18 July 2020  /  10.00 – 11.30am  
Moraine Lodge, Mt Cook Lakeside Retreat, 86 Mt Cook Road, (State Highway 80)

Maori perspectives on Astronomy with Victoria Campbell, Kāi/Ngāi Tahu.

Victoria will share a brief history of astronomy and its application from a Māori perspective with a focus on seasonality and time keeping.   She will talk about the lunar stellar system and how our interaction with the environment is interconnected and integral in the application of Māori astronomy.  

Entry by note donation.  Pre-registration required. Includes: presentation, tea and coffee.

Pre-registration required. 

Includes: presentation, tea and coffee.

Sponsored by the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Board and Mt Cook Lakeside Retreat

Cash / eftpos bar available.


New Zealand Starlight Conference 2019, Lake Tekapo

Conference Proceedings and Session Videos

Keynote Speakers

Starlight Festival, 2017, Aoraki Mt Cook

Keynote Speakers included Dr Natalie Batalha NASA Ames space scientist, Moffett Field (near San Francisco), California. (Time Magazine in April 2017 named her as one of the 100 most influential people on the planet). ‘A Planet for Goldilocks’ and the search for habitable Earth-like planets.  Kevin Govender, Director of the Office of Astronomy for Development of the International Astronomical Union, based in Cape Town, South Africa. ‘Astronomy for Humankind’.  Sze-leung Cheung, Director of the Office of Astronomy Outreach of the International Astronomical Union, based in Tokyo, Japan. ‘The threat of LEDs to astronomy and how to build a dark-sky-friendly future’.

Mark Gee from Wellington - night-sky time-lapse animations and an astro-photography workshop for everyone wanting to learn these techniques.

Steve Chadwick from Palmerston North and renowned Fairlie and Tekapo astrophotographer, Fraser Gunn - sky animations and photography.

Astro-photography exhibition with nine of New Zealand’s top astro-photographers exhibiting their images.

Videos, exhibitions, workshops, planetarium shows and stargazing (at the new Mt Cook Observatory) over three days, 13-15 October.

Pukaki Observatory at the Mt Cook Lakeside Retreat (at the southern end of Lake Pukaki) hosted a  special stargazing and wine-tasting evening with hosts Kaye and Like Paardekooper and astrophotographer Mark Gee.

‘Black Holes, Gold and Ripples in Space and Time’, Twizel, 2018

Professor Paul Groot, Professor of Astronomy at Radboud University, the Netherlands gave a talk on merging black holes, neutron stars and the origin of gold in the universe! 

And also a sensational new discovery confirming Einstein’s predictions about gravity.  

Starlight Festival, 2015, Twizel

"Science and art naturally overlap, and we are exploring and celebrating those connections. This is an exciting and innovative way of demonstrating how important these relationships are."  HIghlights of the 2015 festival:

A photographic and art exhibition with works by some of New Zealand's most prominent astro-photographers will feature at the event, with nightscape astro-images and landscapes of the Mackenzie Basin for sale.

The 'LIGHT: Beyond the Bulb' exhibition by Harvard University. The exhibition featured 60 images related to the physics and technology of light, which were crowd-sourced and expertly curated.

The 'Planetarium Show' held at Hillary Alpine Centre Planetarium in Mt Cook.

New Zealand-made 'Dark Sky' and award-winning 'The City Dark' from New York.  The City Dark, a feature documentary about light pollution and the disappearing night sky, premiered at the 2011 South by Southwest Film Festival.The 'Dark Sky' documentary was created by Jerry Rock-Archer and Laura Sargisson of the University of Otago, and is about Lake Tekapo's gold standard starlight reserve – New Zealand's haven from light pollution.

Professor Chris Lintott from Oxford and Dr Seth Shostak of the SETI Institute in California will present talks.

A UNESCO starlight concert, featuring the Woolston Brass Band and the festival was opened by New Zealander of the Year, Dame Anne Salmond.

Starlight Festival, 2013, Lake Tekapo

The inaugural festival celebrated the creation of the southern hemisphere’s first International Dark Sky Reserve, in the Mackenzie Basin and at Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park in the centre of New Zealand’s South Island.

The Festival was a mix of scientific, educational and cultural events over three days, designed to attract school students, family groups and members of the public who are interested in learning more about the stars, the night sky, the problems of light pollution and the appreciation of the environment and outer space.The events included stargazing, lectures, a concert, an essay and poetry competition, documentaries on the night sky, a photographic exhibition, and more.  Speakers included former Astronaut Marsha Ivins.