World star party gets NZ launch

A 24-hour global star party has just kicked off in Wellington, New Zealand, and Skymania was delighted to be there to join in the celebrations.

Wellington groupThe event, in the city’s Civic Square, was launched by Mayor Kerry Prendergast, and was the first of more than 1,500 planned to take place around the world .

It is a major part of the International Year of Astronomy’s bid to bring the excitement of the universe to ordinary people.

Mayor Prendergast told a small crowd: “Starting here and now, the plan is to get a million people or more around the world looking at the skies through telescopes.

“Our skies are really a great treasure, especially in New Zealand where – weather allowing – they are usually clear enough of pollution for us to be able to see the glorious stars.

“And they are glorious. The 19th century American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson said; ‘If the stars should appear but one night every thousand years how man would marvel and stare.’

“Fortunately we don’t have to wait a thousand years – we can look up on almost any night and see one of the great wonders of nature over our heads.”

The Mayor added: “There’s nothing like looking at the night sky to give you a sense of your place in time and space. Perhaps if more people took time to bring that sort of perspective to their own lives, the world might be a more peaceful place.”

The 24-hour star party comes in the middle of a 100 Hours of Astronomy celebration, which is being marked in the UK mainly with a series of Moonwatch events.

Galaxy Zoo, the project that is getting the public involved in classifying galaxy types, is hoping to get one million galaxies classified over the 100-hour period.

Organiser Chris Lintott said: “Completing this challenge will not only be another significant step towards our goal of producing the world’s largest and most detailed catalogue of classified galaxies, but it’s also a good chance to demonstrate just how effective all of your efforts are when taken together.”

Picture: Viewing the Sun safely in Wellington at the global party’s launch. (Photo: Paul Sutherland)

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Paul Sutherland

Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.
Paul Sutherland

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Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.

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