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TRAVEL & LEISURE

Lake Tekapo Is Now Home to a Multimillion-Dollar Astronomy Centre

The indoor astronomy centre will combine Māori astronomy and science.
By Rachel Stone
July 15, 2019
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Lake Tekapo Is Now Home to a Multimillion-Dollar Astronomy Centre

The indoor astronomy centre will combine Māori astronomy and science.
By Rachel Stone
July 15, 2019
  shares

Thanks to its spectacular, unpolluted night skies, the area surrounding the South Island's Lake Tekapo (Aoraki Mackenzie) is recognised as an International Dark Sky Reserve. The region — the largest dark sky reserve in the world — attracts astronomers and physicists from all over the world to complete astronomical research as well as those just keen to cop uninterrupted views of the Milky Way.

The stargazing hotspot is now home to a multimillion-dollar astronomy centre. Located right on the Lake Tekapo (Takapō) lakefront, Dark Sky Project offers the world's first indoor, multimedia experience combining Māori astronomy and science. The Project worked with local tribal groups, leading Māori astronomy expert Professor Rangi Mātāmua and the University of Canterbury to bring to life the stories of the universe.

The 1140sqm centre includes a new lakeside diner, while a large observatory dome houses the 125-year-old Brashear Telescope. The Victorian telescope, which stands up to nine metres tall, is part of the new 45-minute Dark Sky Experience.

The guided experience, which allows visitors to stargaze even when the sun is shining, has been designed to reflect some of the research undertaken by the University of Canterbury at the Mt John Observatory as well as tātai aroraki (Māori astronomy). The experience provides multi-sensory interactions to help visitors to understand the scale of the universe, the wonder of its creation from both a scientific and cultural perspective, as well as some recent discoveries.

Find the Dark Sky Project at 1 Motuariki Lane, Lake Tekapo.

Published on July 15, 2019 by Rachel Stone

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