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

 

Strike: Lyttelton Port Workers Vote To Escalate Dispute

Members of the Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU) at Lyttelton Port today voted to escalate their industrial action. Around 200 RMTU members have been operating an overtime ban since 17 December and today they endorsed a series of full withdrawals of labour at the port. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: NZ Dollar Falls To 3-Year Low As Investors Favour Greenback

The New Zealand dollar fell to its lowest in more than three years as investors sold euro and bought US dollars, weakening other currencies against the greenback. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: NZ Govt Operating Deficit Smaller Than Expected

The New Zealand’s government’s operating deficit was smaller than expected in the first five months of the financial year as a clampdown on expenditure managed to offset a shortfall in the tax-take from last month’s forecast. More>>

ALSO:

0.8 Percent Annually:
NZ Inflation Falls Below RBNZ's Target

New Zealand's annual pace of inflation slowed to below the Reserve Bank's target band in the final three months of the year, giving governor Graeme Wheeler more room to keep the benchmark interest rate lower for longer.More>>

ALSO:

NASA, NOAA: Find 2014 Warmest Year In Modern Record

Since 1880, Earth’s average surface temperature has warmed by about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degrees Celsius), a trend that is largely driven by the increase in carbon dioxide and other human emissions into the planet’s atmosphere. The majority of that warming has occurred in the past three decades. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: New Zealand’s Reserve Bank Named Central Bank Of The Year

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s efforts to stifle house price inflation by using new policy tools has seen the institution named Central Bank of the year by Central Banking Publications, a publisher specialising in global central banking practice. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
Standards New Zealand

Standards New Zealand
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news