With the new housing development taking place at our old meeting site, Faithfull Funeral Services in Red Beach Road, the Hibiscus Coast Astronomical Society was in need of a new home.
Rhys Hodson, who is the head of the Science Department at Whangaparāoa College, kindly offered us the use of the foyer of the school’s auditorium for our meetings.
Whangaparāoa College recognised that one of our primary objectives is education, and as such, we could provide a unique, complimentary means for their students to further their interests in physics and astronomy. As our society journeys into the space age, this is becoming more and more relevant for students who may seek to enter this new ‘space industry’.
The Hibiscus Coast Astronomical Society would like to extend our gratitude to Whangaparāoa College for their generosity. We look forward to a long and prosperous relationship.
Stargazers can still enjoy the Eta Aquarid meteor shower which began on April 21 and runs until May 20, with many meteors still visible for several days on either side of the peak.
The Eta Aquarids is one of two meteor showers which occurs as Earth passes through a stream of icy and dusty debris from Halley’s Comet (the other shower is the Orionid shower in October).
Look for the meteors anywhere in the sky, preferably after midnight. They trace their paths back to a point near the star Eta Aquarii which rises in the South Eastern sky before dawn.
This is perhaps the best meteor shower of the year for southern hemisphere stargazers who can expect up to approximately 50 meteors per hour.
You don’t need any special equipment or skills to view a meteor shower. All you really need is a clear sky and lots of patience. Find a secluded viewing spot, away from the city lights. Allow your eyes to take 15 to 20 minutes to get used to the dark. Lie down on the ground and look at the sky. Before long, you should see meteors.
On May 29, look for Jupiter and Mars rising together in the eastern sky before sunrise with a waning crescent Moon nearby. The two planets lie about half a degree apart and are easily visible to the naked eye. Red-orange Mars makes a striking color contrast with much brighter yellow-white Jupiter.
Both fit into the same field of view of a small telescope at low-to-moderate magnification. With a telescope, you will be able to see the disks of each planet, as well as Jupiter’s large Galilean moons and major cloud belts.