Saturday, June 16, 2007


Early this morning I walked out to Mount Eden and ascended the summit. At the top was a rather alien sky. After all the star-watching I had been doing in the evenings, the morning stars and visible constellations are quite different. Scorpio, which dominated the evening sky with Jupiter below it, was diving down to the west. The zodiac from Scorpio to Aries was visible, although none of those were that easy to make forms of. The best new features were the square of Pegasus, which stretches wide across the north, and Mars, which was to be one of the signposts to find Matariki.

Nick and I found a good spot, also occupied by a New Zealand born self-identified anglophile, who had also come to spot the small constellation. Some people came by asking if we were there for a 'guided walk'. We said no, but after some thought a guided walk at this time of the morning could only be about Matariki. After a moment, a crowd of about 10 maori came over to our viewing spot. We all stared out to the north-eastern horizon. Rigel was the first up, one of the feet of Orion. Then Aldebaran, the horn of Taurus, twinkled vigorously red into visibility. No-one seemed the wiser on exactly where Matariki, a cluster of about seven stars, was meant to be. The day was breaking with the glow of the sun becoming apparent over a low bank of clouds. After consulting my book, I isolated a patch of sky and lo and behold, there was the faint twinkling. We directed other people to it, but the race between brightening of the sky and the rising of the stars came to a head shortly after.

The Maori group did some speeches and a karakia in Maori. I was pleased to understand one speech and a joke quite well. We descended the mountain and had a proper breakfast incidentaly missing the sun-rise and a pass by the International Space Station.

Happy Maori New Year.

1 comment:

Crypticity said...

I only saw Matariki ( for the first time with a dark black backgroud on Wednesday morning at about 6:30am.

It was an adventure in itself as I was unsure exactly where it was in the sky. I stared over to Orion, and from there easily spotted Taurus, both of which are signposts for Matariki. But the only thing I could see was a pair of stars in Taurus. Was that Matariki but with my eyes not picking up the fainter stars? I ran and got some binoculars - nope it was just a pair of stars (another cluster called Hyades). I was perplexed and took off my glasses. Suddenly I found I was looking into an area of sky with stars in it. I put my glasses back on and there they were! It was a lot bigger that I thought it would be and it was spectacular.