Last month brought some excellent news for New Zealand — we were proclaimed as having a Gold Tier Dark Sky Reserve:
Over 1,600 square miles of New Zealand’s South Island have just been proclaimed as an International Dark Sky Reserve, making it the largest in the world. The Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve (IDSR), comprised of the Aoraki/Mt. Cook National Park and the Mackenzie Basin, is the fourth such dark sky reserve in the world.
It’s been a long while since I visited that part of the country, but it’s very beautiful and worth a trip even if you don’t want to look at the stars.
I think this is a big win. Next up I’d like to see the whole country reducing light spillage and making sure that outdoor lights are directed down to illuminate what’s below them.
Please: turn down and turn off the lights outside. Let’s keep our skies dark and enjoy our window into the universe.
Update 16 July 2012. Look at this stunning video of the aurora over Tekapo:
Standing next to Lake Tekapo looking South past the Church of the Good Shepherd at the Southern night sky filled by the aurora australis (Southern Lights) on the 15th July 2012. This nights aurora offered a very mixed display at times you could only see a glow in the South and at others there were many pillars of light beaming up in the the sky, with both a green and red colour visiable with your naked eye. Please note that the camera is able to gather a lot more light and colour than you can see with your eye simply because of the timed exposure of each image, in this case each exposure was 10 seconds f/2 ISO 3200 and in total 1773 images were taken to make this animation. At the end of the animation you can see the Southern cross in the top right corner.