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Carter Observatory has been a significant part of Wellington’s heritage since it opened on 20 December 1941.
Today it is a refurbished, world class visitor attraction inspiring visitors to Wellington look up at the skies above New Zealand through a mixture of planetarium shows, multi media interactive exhibits, text rich displays and historic artefacts.
Visitors are introduced to Māori cosmology, early Māori and European navigation, Matariki and of course, the Southern Cross.
Whilst familiar to our Southern Hemisphere visitors, learning how to find and identify the Southern Cross and being sent away with a star chart showing you where to look, is a wonderful way to engage our international visitors with a very special New Zealand memory.
Wellington has had its fair share of stars too over the years. Here are two personalities you may have heard about:
Sir William Pickering, born on Mt Victoria in Wellington in 1906, schooled in Nelson and Christchurch, William went on to lead the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at Caltech in the USA.
He became world famous overnight with the launch of the US satellite, Explorer 1 in 1958.
William graced the covers of Time Magazine in 1963 and 1965 as the space race heated up. He was recognized with numerous awards for his visionary work in science and was knighted in 1976.
His life and work are celebrated at Carter Observatory in a gallery bearing his name.
Peter Read, another Wellington, graced our early television screens in New Zealand during the late 60’s and 70’s as he hosted the Night Sky programme.
A wonderful mix of his colorful character, amateur astronomy knowledge, media nous and interviews with NASA astronauts and local astronomers made his show compulsory viewing for those of us growing up at that time.
Peter Read had a long association with Carter Observatory, many of his telescopes and paintings are in Carter Observatory’s care. His contribution is acknowledged in the Pickering Gallery.
Catch these stars, alongside the billions of others that grace our skies at Carter Observatory.