Carter Observatory Opens

22 March 2010

New Zealand's place for space is set for lift-off this weekend and you're invited to the party.

Check out the open day at the Carter Observatory on Saturday 27 March

Check out the open day at the Carter Observatory on Saturday 27 March

The newly refurbished Carter Observatory, Wellington's world-class visitor attraction and astronomy education facility, reopens on Saturday 27 March. To celebrate there will be free entry to the observatory for the day and lots of other family fun, including comet and spectroscope making, story telling and entertainment from kiwi musician Bella Kalolo.

Located at the top of the Botanic Garden, just two minutes walk from the Cable Car, the observatory's brand new nine-metre planetarium - a full dome digital theatre - will take visitors on a virtual tour further into space than ever before.

Far beyond our solar system to the Southern Cross and Te Ikaroa (The Milky Way).

The new hands-on multimedia space will put visitors in control of their own space experience from the beginning of time. Discover the importance of the stars in traditional Māori navigation. Find out how New Zealand's great astronomers used the stars and check out the observatory's historic telescopes. All will be open to the public on the day.

The refurbishment of the observatory involved a structural, thermal, fire and electrical upgrade of the whole building. The interior of the building was completely gutted, the brick exterior of the building was earthquake-strengthened, and the roof, walls and floor insulated. Observatory Director Sarah Rusholme can't wait for opening day. "People will be amazed at the changes," she says. "The aim of the revamp was to make it a must-see visitor destination and open up the interior to create flexible exhibition spaces. It's an investment in the city's tourism, education and science industries and will enhance the visitor experience in Wellington. It'll make a trip up on the Cable Car even more of a memorable experience."

Sarah is particularly excited about a new Ministry of Education contract that will subsidise school visits to the observatory. "Thousands of children will come to the observatory each year. This will open the door to astronomy for children who may not have experienced the wonders of the planets and the universe before."

The Council took over management of the observatory in December 2007 and contributed $1.9m toward its refurbishment. The observatory will eventually be part of the Wellington Museums Trust.

The Carter Observatory's free open day is Saturday 27 March, 10.00am - 5.00pm. For more information, visit the Carter Observatory website or phone (04) 910 3140.