Auckland, it must be said, is not the best place to look at the stars. The Stardome, however, is without a doubt the best place to start, if you are even slightly curious about the universe that we all reside in. You might go in reluctantly with your boyfriend, and the next thing you know you’re dragging him along to go camping with you on Stewart Island, with your own telescope and a map of the stars. (Steward Island has a population of 402. I’m thinking it’s pretty dark at night there).
So, what’s so special about the Stardome? I’m glad you asked. Stardome’s planetarium is a cosy hemispherical room, which hosts shows about the night sky, black holes, our solar system and basically everything else. The sky is projected onto the round ceiling, and you lean back in your chair and travel through space. Most geekily cool of all, the Stardome has software that maps the existence and position of each known object in the known universe. I mean, that’s pretty damn awesome.
If it’s a clear night, you can wander outside at the end of the show and gaze through the Stardome’s telescopes, with helpful volunteers showing you exactly where to look for the most dazzling view. Seeing Jupiter’s rings for yourself, or Orion’s Nebula, is a pretty mind-blowing end to the evening.
If you want an even better look, the huge Zeiss telescope gives a unique view of the night sky, from one of the most powerful telescopes in the country. Even people who think they are not interested in astronomy will be impressed by a close up view of the moon’s craters, or the brilliance of Saturn, or the sparkles of the Jewel Box cluster.
Shows are available for each age group, from 3 years to shows that are rated R18. These adult shows include wine and cheese nights on the first Tuesday of each month, and Pink Floyd and Led Zeplin shows, which make a pretty cute date or a fun night out with your more geeky friends. The presenters are funny and entertaining, and of course very knowledgeable.
The Stardome is the house of worship for the scientist, the intergalactic classroom for the student, and the mind-broadening evening for everyone in between.
Visit their website here
Photography by IsabellaWeb