Tag Archives: astronomy

Light work

The days are lengthening noticeably here now as we head to the longest day in just over a month’s time. The garlic is looking increasingly closer to harvesting time.

The light is playing games in the house right now. I am finding it in unusual and unexpected patches at different times of the day.

Then today we are experiencing a partial solar eclipse in relatively fine, calm conditions. There is some high cloud about but as I type this the sunlight entering the house is very dull and the birds have gone much quieter.

At full “eclipse” today 76% of the sun will be obscured by the moon. It certainly gives an eerie, hazy light to things outdoors. The sunlight has a different quality to it and my eyes are not finding it a familiar light at all.

The house is very dark in rooms where the sun does not reach at this time of day. But Jazz, our cat is still content to bask in any sunshine on offer out there

I’m a fan of mellow light and I find the blazing light of summer and the long periods of day challenging at times. Many others thrive in that strength and abundance. Which do you prefer?

The Transit of Venus and our dual heritage.

Today was momentous in the astronomical world with a transit of Venus being visible here in New Zealand. The next one does not occur until 2117.

Sadly a very wet, snow –filled and bitterly cold weather system came in and caused much of New Zealand to miss the chance of witnessing this event.

In Tolaga Bay today many, many people gathered to commemorate and observe the Transit because the history of New Zealand is inextricably linked to the passage of the planet Venus across the sun.

Captain James Cook was dispatched from England in 1768 to sail to Tahiti in time to observe the Transit in June 1769. He was successful in this and then sailed further west in the hope of finding a large land mass that earlier explorers had reported existed.
Cook’s young crew member Nick Young spotted land in Poverty Bay later in 1769 and made landfall in that general area, making Tolaga Bay very significant.

Cook’s surveying skills and ability to sail in unknown waters saw him successfully circumnavigate our land and map much of the coast very accurately. While he was not the first European explorer to find my country, he was the first to sail around the entire country.

Maori explorers were well advanced navigators and had sailed from more northern parts of the Pacific Ocean around 1250-1300 AD. Skilled observers of the stars enabled these early Maori sailors to navigate over vast areas of ocean.

We have dual heritage here in New Zealand. Europeans share this land with the Maori, the indigenous people. My walk in a local park last weekend reminded me of this dual heritage as I walked amongst very tall non-indigenous trees that the European settlers bought with them and the unique indigenous trees of New Zealand.

Oak tree with a Rimu tree in the background

New Zealand Rimu tree