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In defence of Stonehenge Aotearoa


Stonehenge Aotearoa much more interesting than the original!

Fans of Stonehenge Aotearoa, New Zealand’s outdoor observatory and astronomy attraction, think the Lonely Planet 2008 guide is way off the astral beam.

Publisher Mary Varnham says the astronomy centre, which sits on a dark sky site in the Wairarapa, does an outstanding job of inspiring and educating people of all ages about astronomy and science.

Varnham’s company Awa Press is the publisher of the best-seller How to Gaze at the Southern Stars by the centre’s founder, Richard Hall, and Stonehenge Aotearoa: The Complete Guide.

‘Lonely Planet seems to think that Stonehenge Aotearoa is an imitation of Stonehenge in Britain, but this is completely wrong. It’s a unique outdoor observatory designed to inspire people young and old about astronomy, the southern stars and humankind’s place in the universe,’ Varnham said.

‘I’ve been to both it and the original Stonehenge in Britain and there’s no contest: Stonehenge Aotearoa is by far the most interesting experience,’ Varnham said today. ‘If you want to learn about astronomy, and how ancient civilisations used the movements of the stars, planets and constellations for virtually everything, from planting crops to navigating vast oceans, Stonehenge Aotearoa is the place to go.’

‘Richard Hall is not only a passionate astronomer but a brilliant communicator,’ Varnham said. ‘The tour starts with a short video and then a one-hour talk about the henge. I have seen people listening spellbound, hardly moving. At the end they don’t want to leave.’

Stonehenge Aotearoa has the backing of the Royal Society of New Zealand, and was opened in 2005 by New Zealand’s Nobel prize-winning physicist Alan MacDiarmid.


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