Author: @milkywaykiwi

Life on and off Earth, from Rotorua

Ever wanted to work for NASA? Or learn about astrobiology from New Zealand? Join us to find out what’s an astrobiologist, why should one visit New Zealand, how the hot springs here in Rotorua are putting it on the astrobiology map, what are NASA plans for sending people on Mars and what you need to do to work there at NASA, jobs of the future, Twizel and artificial intelligence.

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The sky of February – only the brightest!

Getting to know the southern sky is for ever a wonderfully strange experience. In any new place that I visit I always feel grateful for landmarks. On Earth, I am looking for trees and buildings and mountains, in the sky I always look for the brightest stars. Here in New Zealand, there are places and times when the light of the individual stars is lost in the haze of the Milky Way as if a blanket of tiny lights is covering the Earth at night.

Moon stuff…

A silver metallic Moon has shown up at my bedroom’s window.

Its hidden through a veil of grey thin clouds, which seem to be pressing against the jagged mountain line in straight horizontal banding. She, who used to be a huge and round disk of bright light, is now smudged in all directions, with charcoal of darkness.

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The sky of June – The Rising of the Galaxy

Out I went and nothing prepared me for what I saw that night. On the pitch dark sky of Wairarapa, with luscious hills that hold the horizon in sweet curves that rest the eye, a luminous whirlpool of stars was erupting from the east. Silver river of stars, one of its arms was meandering the eastern horizon in oval arched loops like an octopus’s arm that passed a Southern Cross marking the 12 o’clock position on the celestial time keeper of the south. The galactic arm was thinning down towards the western horizon and righteously so as the further we go from Scorpius and Sagittarius, we are actually looking towards the outskirts of our galaxy, where fewer stars venture. I stood there in silence watching the slow rising of the Galaxy and I realised that it was for the first time in my life when I was truly seeing it with my eyes.