A voyage of discovery, just half an hour down the road explore the southern sky this autumn through a powerful telescope

Journey into space this autumn

by Andy Bryenton

Up until a couple of weeks ago, our best ideas about black holes came from the theories of the late, great Professor Stephen Hawking. Now we have a visual image of one of these light-devouring cosmic ‘monsters’, and it’s just one of the amazing things that populate the night sky.

If you’re searching for inspiration, something out of the ordinary to do, or a new experience to share with your kids, then stargazing is just right for this time of year. The quick fall of evening, the crisp cool air and the clear skies of our part of the world mean that you don’t have to go far from town or stay up until 2am in the morning to catch sight of some incredible things. From the intricate details of the moon’s craters to the rings of Saturn, the moons of Jupiter and more, there’s much more to space than you might imagine.

Locally, the best way to get up close and personal with the heavens is to pay a visit to Christchurch Astro Tours in Springston. Catering to small groups, the stargazers here have the knowledge to bring the night sky alive, and the high-quality equipment to zoom in on areas of interest and discovery.

Guests are guided through a short talk about the southern sky, and then it’s time to take a look through the powerful optics of the telescope, following in the footsteps of Galileo and discovering sights from thousands of light years away. It means that the glowing nebulae and multicoloured stars seen tonight gave off their light when human civilisation was taking its first steps.

Right now, Christchurch Astro Tours is taking bookings to experience the wonders of space as ‘up close and personal’ as possible without becoming an astronaut. Take a look at their website astro.nz for more details, and consider this quirky and fun family activity as the nights draw in and starlight beckons.