Astronomical Fun at Wellington's Central Library this Weekend

31 March 2009

Wellingtonians will be seeing stars this weekend, as the Central Library celebrates 100 Hours of Astronomy - part of the International Year of Astronomy - in style.

There will be a video installation playing for 100 hours, a special astronomy-themed storytelling session for children, entertainment and the chance to see and use some impressive telescopes. The 100 hours run from 12 midnight Wednesday 1 April to 12 midnight Sunday 5 April (which adds up to 96 hours but time zone changes round it to 100 hours).

A section of windows on the Victoria Street side of the library building will be used as a projection screen, featuring an audiovisual installation of time-lapse sky images by artist Paul Moss. The work's title, Three 'Scapes - Ranginui, references the Māori creation myth of Ranginui (the sky) being separated from his wife, Papatuanuku (the earth) by their sons, including Tangaroa (whose name completes the three 'scapes - the seascape), to let light into the world.

Paul is an astronomer and video artist interested in the relationship between atmospheric sky phenomena and human responses. He uses sound, music and visuals to create his works. He is also a passionate environmentalist who runs astronomy-related events throughout the year. Some may remember the related work he created with musician Warwick Blair, Stars, which showed at the New Zealand Film Archive in December last year. Three ‘Scapes - Ranginui was made in collaboration with composer Module (Jeremiah Ross), Ray Ching and astro-photographers including John Drummond, John Burt and Joe Mann.

Wellington City Libraries Customer Specialist, Rebecca Waechter, says passers-by will be treated to beautiful, awe-inspiring sights. "We're really excited about turning part of the library into an artwork. It's going to be stunning and it might just get people thinking about their place in the universe."

The library will also be playing host to some special telescopes, which are some of the oldest in New Zealand. They're on display in the astronomy exhibition on the first floor until 18 April. A Stories@7 storytelling session will begin at 7.00pm on Friday 3 April and will continue the astronomy theme.

On Saturday 4 April, from 10.00am - 10.00pm you can enjoy live music at the 100 Hours Global Star Party in Civic Square, talk to local astronomers about the wonders of the sky and become one of a million people looking through a telescope during this worldwide event. You can also be part of webcasts to the world. If it rains, or if you just want another chance to look through a telescope, the Sun Day celebrations in Civic Square from 12 noon - 5.00pm the next day are for you.

Wellington's libraries will hold more astronomy-related events throughout the year. For more information on these and 100 Hours of Astronomy events, check the Astronomy '09 section of the Wellington City Libraries website as it's updated over the next few months.

The libraries' celebrations of all things astronomical are run in conjunction with the Wellington Astronomical Society. For more information about the International Year of Astronomy, visit the International Astronomical Union website.