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 www.stardome.org.nz for further details.

- ENDS -

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Budget Policy Statement: Spending Wins Over Tax Cuts; Big Ticket Items Get Boost

Income tax cuts are on hold as the government says “responding to the earthquakes and reducing debt are currently of higher priority”, although election year tax sweeteners remain possible. More>>

ALSO:

Fishy: Is Whitebaiting Sustainable?

The whitebait fry - considered a delicacy by many - are the juveniles of five species of galaxiid, four of which are considered threatened or declining. The SMC asked freshwater experts for their views on the sustainability of the whitebait fishery and whether we're doing enough to monitor the five species of galaxiid that make up whitebait. More>>

ALSO:

Crown Accounts: Smaller-Than-Expected Four-Month Deficit

The New Zealand government's accounts recorded a smaller-than-forecast deficit in the first four months of the fiscal year on a higher-than-expected inflow of corporate and goods and services tax. More>>

ALSO:

On For Christmas: KiwiRail Ferries Back In Full Operation After Quake

KiwiRail’s Interislander ferries are back in full operation for the first time since the Kaikoura earthquake, with the railspan that allows rail wagons to be loaded on the Aratere now restored. More>>

ALSO:

Comerce Commission Investigation: Prosecutions Over Steel Mesh Labelling

Steel & Tube Holdings, along with two other companies, will be prosecuted by the Commerce Commission following the regulator's investigation into seismic steel mesh, while Fletcher Building's steel division has been given a warning. More>>

ALSO:

Wine: 20% Of Marlborough Storage Tanks Damaged By Quake

An estimated 20 percent of wine storage tanks in the Marlborough region, the country’s largest wine producing area, have been damaged by the impact of the recent Kaikoura earthquake. More>>

ALSO:

ACC: Levy Recommendations For 2017 – 2019 Period

• For car owners, a 13% reduction in the average Motor Vehicle levy • For businesses, a 10% reduction in the average Work levy, and changes to workplace safety incentive products • For employees, due to an increase in claims volumes and costs, a 3% increase in the Earners’ levy. More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news