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SCIENCE

Guests enjoying the experience at the Sir Edmund Hilary Alpine Centre theatre at Aoraki Mount Cook. Guests enjoying the experience at the Sir Edmund Hilary Alpine Centre theatre at Aoraki Mount Cook. CREDIT: Southern Public Relations
A selection of planets on the planetarium dome. A selection of planets on the planetarium dome. CREDIT: Southern Public Relations
When Venus Transits The Sun (promotional material). When Venus Transits The Sun (promotional material). CREDIT: Southern Public Relations

Aoraki Mount Cook the place to be for once in a lifetime stargazing event

Monday 21 May 2012, 3:32PM
By Southern Public Relations
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AORAKI/MOUNT COOK

Stargazers and visitors heading to Aoraki Mount Cook early next month will be in a great location to witness a spectacular once-in-a-lifetime astronomy event.

The ‘Transit of Venus’, which will take place on June 6 and not happen again until the year 2117, is an alignment that occurs as the planet Venus passes directly between the sun and earth.

Astronomy guides at ‘Big Sky Stargazing’ located at The Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre at Mount Cook have state-of-the-art equipment to enable guests to make the most of this unique event.

Big Sky Stargazing guide Leigh Findlay said Mount Cook’s location in New Zealand’s central South Island was  an ideal location to witness the event first hand.

“New Zealanders alive today have never before had the chance to see a Transit of Venus in our skies,” he said.

Mr Findlay said people needed to be well prepared for the event, as looking directly at the sun on the day of the transit was too dangerous for the naked eye.

“The transit takes place between 10am and 5pm on Wednesday June 6 and we warn people not try to view the sun directly with the naked eye or even through sunglasses as they don’t protect your eyes,” he said.

“At Big Sky Stargazing we have specialised equipment fitted with solar filters to view the Transit of Venus and we’ll have guides there on the day, explaining the technology we use and what is actually happening during the event itself.”

Live viewing will be available from approximately 10am to 3pm on the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre deck, subject to conditions.

The planetarium will also offer a 45-minute presentation on the day that includes a cinema screening of ‘When Venus Transits the Sun’, explaining the Transit of Venus in far more detail. Guests will also be able to view a display in dynamic colour on a 360-degree 9m dome on the only Digital Planetarium in the South Island.

“Guests will be able to gain a better appreciation of this event from our theatre display,” said Mr Findlay.

“Even if the weather is unfavourable, guests will still be able to get a Transit of Venus experience in the theatre and with the live ‘fly by’ on the full dome digital planetarium.”

The Hermitage Aoraki Mount Cook has Transit of Venus packages available that include accommodation, breakfast and Transit of Venus viewing options from $250 per couple.  For more information on accommodation packages go to http://www.hermitage.co.nz/en/hot-deals/transit-of-venus

More about Big Sky Stargazing packages at Aoraki Mount Cook for Transit of Venus:

Package 1 - Join the Big Sky Stargazing team at Aoraki Mount Cook and follow the Transit of Venus with a 'live viewing' through a specially-equipped telescope and through specialty eclipse glasses. Keep your glasses to use for the next solar eclipse due later in the year. The telescopes will be located on the Hillary Deck of the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre.

Cost $10 per person

Package 2 – Enjoy a 45-minute presentation that explains and presents the Transit of Venus followed by a display with a presenter, using the only Digital Planetarium in the South Island.

  • Cinema presentation of 'When Venus Transits the Sun'.  This is a specially produced 30-minute movie explaining the Transit in detail and written with a great mix of educational fun and adventure, exploring everything from Captain Cook's expedition to the main characters of the Sun and of Venus.

 

  • Then a 15 minute planetarium presentation will illustrate the transition in dynamic colour in our 9m dome with the presenter explaining what is happening and discussing your questions.

Cost $20 per person

Package 3
Combination of package 1 and 2
Cost $25 per person