Stardate 2015

Wednesday, 21st January 2015 at 5:30am - 11pm Sunday, 25th January

Location: Stonehenge Aotearoa

This event is in the past.


January 21 to 26

Stonehenge Aotearoa Astronomy Centre, Longbush, Wairarapa.

Due to the uncertainty of the Havelock North venue being completed in time for Stardate we have decided to move it to the Stonehenge Astronomy Centre in the Wairarapa. In doing so many people will be pleased to know that we can revert to our original dates in the January school holidays. In addition, we can reduce the fees.

The site provides spectacular scenery and near perfect observing conditions. Plus there are lots of interesting places nearby - Vineyards, seal colony, ballooning, swimming, boating, walking tracks, cycling tours, etc.


Wednesday January 21st to Monday 26th. Note however, that the organised program of events does not begin until the Friday evening and ends on Sunday evening. Program details to follow.


Registration: $23, children (pre-teens) accompanied by parents free.

Site Fee: Staying on site (camping, etc.) $10 per day, children (pre-teens) accompanied by parents free. Plenty of off-site accommodation is available for those who want it – details to follow.

Please let us know if you have a presentation for Stardate

2015 is the 27th year that Stardate has been held, making it the longest running, and largest starparty in New Zealand.

The camp site in Tukituki Valley offers a wonderful horizon, away from cloud-attracting hills and city lights, as well as the normal campsite facilities.  Weather permitting, participants will be looking forward to lots of observing time. Many participants bring telescopes and for some, it’s their first telescopic view of the heavens.  There is ample opportunity to mix and mingle with other astronomy enthusiasts.  Some people here have 30-40 years experience; others are complete newcomers.

However, even if the weather is unsuitable for observing, there is also have a programme of talks, workshops and movies organized to complement skywatching.  Whatever the weather Stardate will be great astronomical experience. – a chance to ask questions, share ideas, and make or renew old friendships.

To Register, visit:

Unless otherwise stated, presentations and workshops are held in the theatre at the Clubrooms.
 Friday 23rd January

5:30 pm  Sausage Sizzle  (outside Clubrooms)

 Friday Evening     Chair: Kay Leather

7:00 pm   Official Opening

7:10 pm   Live Video Astronomy   John Whitby

7:50 pm   Using Your Astrophotography Skills for Science 
John Drummond

Numerous amateur astronomers have the equipment
       and expertise needed to help contribute valuable data to
       the professional community and make 
       contributions to science that pave the way to discovery.
       Find out how!

8:10 pm    Tea/coffee

 8:25 pm   Amateur Radio Astronomy
James Smith

                In this presentation James will discuss the history of
                radio astronomy and practical ways one can explore the
                radio universe.
9.15 pm     Summer Night Sky (audio visual)

               Take a voyage to some of the wonders in our summer
               evening night sky.

  9.45 pm   Telescope Viewing

11:00pm     Late Night Science Fiction Movie

Saturday 24th January

Saturday Morning
10:00 am     Children’s Astronomy Programme
                  with George Moutzouris

11:00 am     Tour of Stonehenge Aotearoa
Saturday Afternoon     Chair: Andrew Larkin

1:00 pm     Solar Astronomy with Stephen Chadwick

 1:30 pm     Exploring, Asteroids, Comets and Dwarf Planets
                Dave Maclennan

               The latest discoveries and images from interplanetary


2:15 pm      Observing Betelgeuse in Near Infra-Red
                 Carl Night

               Betelgeuse is a highly evolved Red Supergiant with its 
               emission peak in the near IR. It exhibits multiple modes
               of pulsation and is a candidate for the next Type II
               Supernova in our neighbourhood.

3.00 pm   Tea/coffee

3:15 pm   The Art of Night   Mark Gee

             Mark is an award winning photographer and digital visual
             effects artist. He has worked on many high profile and
             Oscar award winning feature films. His love of the New
             Zealand landscape is a big part of the inspiration for his
             photography and, in the past few years,
             astrophotography has captured Mark’s imagination and

 4:00 pm    There’s  Plenty of Planets up There!
               John Drummond 
30 Astronomers are discovering exoplanets at a dizzying
               pace. Find out what methods are being used and what it
               all means. NZ’s contribution to the discovery of the
               Earth-massed planet orbiting within a binary star system
               (published in Science) will also be discussed.

4:30 pm     Visit to the John Whitby Observatory


5:30 pm     Stardate Saturday Dinner – Eat Like
 (outside Main Hall)

Saturday 24th January

 Saturday Evening  Chair: Ian Cooper

 6:30 pm   Telescope Trail with tour guide Ian Cooper

 7.30 pm   St. Matthew, Santa and Quantum Physics
              Gerry Eady

8:00 pm     It’s life Jim, but not as we know it -
               Astrobiology and the quest for
  John Drummond 

Our understanding of  life has mushroomed with recent discoveries of extremophiles; can these new discoveries make ‘inhospitable’ foreign worlds places where extra-terrestrial life may reside and be perhaps discovered?            

8.30 pm   Tea/coffee

8:45 pm    A Journey to Alpha Centauri… and beyond
               Richard Hall

               Using the latest information we explore the planets and
               environments of the nearest stars.

9:00 pm     Telescope Viewing / The Summer Night Sky
(audio visual)


11:00pm     Late Night Science Fiction Movie

 Sunday 25th January

Sunday Morning
10:00 am   Space Camp - Children’s Astronomy Programme
with Anna Thea Littek

11:00 am    Tour of Stonehenge Aotearoa
12:00 noon  Buy and Sell Market

See Kay Leather if you have items to sell at this session which will be held just outside the shop.

Sunday Afternoon  Chair: George Moutzouris

2:00 pm     Astrophotography workshop
                with Stephen Chadwick


3.00 pm     Tea/coffee


3:15pm     Cosmology 101 – Current cosmology for the
John Drummond

Some of the currently pressing issues in our exploration of the Universe are highlighted in a non-technical way.

3:45pm   Megalithic Astronomy   Gerry Eady

            The technical aspects of  Megalithic building.

5:30 pm   Stardate Sunday Dinner – Eat Like Lola  
(outside Main Hall)

  Sunday Evening   Chair: Richard Hall

 7:00 pm  New Zealand’s Forthcoming Astronomy

            John Drummond & Dennis Goodman

The 50 years of astronomy at Mount John celebration, RASNZ annual conference and occultation symposium – a week of astronomy. John and Dennis will highlight some of the exciting events coming up at this special milestone in NZ astronomy.

7:10 pm   Integrated Flux Nebulae        Ian Cooper

A detailed look at the Subliminal Clouds lit up by our Milky


8:00 pm    Tea/coffee

8:15 pm     The Dynamic Sun       Kay Leather

               A look at the latest research on our star, the Sun.
8.55 pm    The Great Astro Quiz with Edwin Rodley and Felicity

9.45 pm     Telescope Viewing


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