Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search


The Science Behind a New Zealand Celebration

The Science Behind a New Zealand Celebration

Astronomy has ancient connections to cultures around the world, including New Zealand. This month, New Zealanders can celebrate their own connection with the stars with the rise of a very special star cluster and the beginning of the Māori New Year.

The luminous Matariki cluster plays an important role in heralding in the new Māori year. The start of the festival begins this year on June 28, which is the night of the first crescent Moon after the first appearance of Matariki in the morning sky.

Matariki is the Māori name for the Pleiades star cluster. This group of stars is visible around the world so it has many different names and myths and stories associated with it. The names Pleiades and The Seven Sisters originate in ancient Greece, in Japan it is known as Subaru, Vikings referred to the cluster as Freyja’s Hens and in scientific circles it is called Messier 45.

The ‘open star cluster’ which is part of the Taurus constellation is made up of seven main stars but contains around one thousand other stars. It’s visible for much of the year, except for the month of May when the glare of the Sun obscures the view. Matariki is a stunning star cluster located 410 light years away, which is 100 times further than the nearest star, Alpha Centauri. One light-year is the distance light travels in a single year, which is about 10 trillion kilometres.

In astronomical terms, Matariki is a ‘teenager’. At a youthful 100 million years old it still has lots of action and developments to come. Astronomy Educator David Britten explains “When you look up at Matariki, you’re looking at an environment that resembles the earliest period when our Sun and solar system formed in a star cluster some 5 billion years ago. The brightest stars in Matariki are burning very hot, which gives them the blue-white colouring. Over the next few million years or so these stars will explode, producing the material that can create planets and entirely new solar systems.”

While different Iwi have different names for the brightest stars in the cluster the most common are Matariki, Ururangi, Waipuna-ā-rangi, Waita, Waiti, Tupu-ā-rangi and Tupu-ā-nuku.

The ‘Matariki Dawn’ Planetarium show at Stardome showcases the legend of Papatuanuku and Ranginui, Rona and the Moon, and Matariki. In the 360° immersive show you’ll learn more about these legends, why Matariki falls on a different day every year and how ancient Māori used the Moon as a calendar and how it influenced agricultural and festive activities. ‘Matariki Dawn’ plays at 7pm Wednesday to Sunday 28 June – 13 July. See for further details.

- ENDS -

© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Trade: NZ Trade Deficit Widens To A Record In September

Oct. 27 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand's monthly trade deficit widened to a record in September as meat exports dropped to their lowest level in more than three years. More>>


Animal Welfare: Cruel Practices Condemned By DairyNZ Chief

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says cruel and illegal practices are not in any way condoned or accepted by the industry as part of dairy farming.

Tim says the video released today by Farmwatch shows some footage of transport companies and their workers, as well as some unacceptable behaviour by farmers of dragging calves. More>>


Postnatal Depression: 'The Thief That Steals Motherhood' - Alison McCulloch

Post-natal depression is a sly and cruel illness, described by one expert as ‘the thief that steals motherhood’, it creeps up on its victims, hiding behind the stress and exhaustion of being a new parent, catching many women unaware and unprepared. More>>


DIY: Kiwi Ingenuity And Masking Tape Saves Chick

Kiwi ingenuity and masking tape has saved a Kiwi chick after its egg was badly damaged endangering the chick's life. The egg was delivered to Kiwi Encounter at Rainbow Springs in Rotorua 14 days ago by a DOC worker with a large hole in its shell and against all odds has just successfully hatched. More>>


International Trade: Key To Lead Mission To India; ASEAN FTA Review Announced

Prime Minister John Key will lead a trade delegation to India next week, saying the pursuit of a free trade agreement with the protectionist giant is "the primary reason we're going" but playing down the likelihood of early progress. More>>



MYOB: Digital Signatures Go Live

From today, Inland Revenue will begin accepting “digital signatures”, saving businesses and their accountants a huge amount of administration time and further reducing the need for pen and paper in the workplace. More>>

Oil Searches: Norway's Statoil Quits Reinga Basin

Statoil, the Norwegian state-owned oil company, has given up oil and gas exploration in Northland's Reinga Basin, saying the probably of a find was 'too low'. More>>


Modern Living: Auckland Development Blowouts Reminiscent Of Run Up To GFC

The collapse of property developments in Auckland is "almost groundhog day" to the run-up of the global financial crisis in 2007/2008 as banks refuse to fund projects due to blowouts in construction and labour costs, says John Kensington, the author of KPMG's Financial Institutions Performance Survey. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news