Wellington Astronomical Society

Wellington Astronomical Society


As an astronomical society, observing, looking at and practically learning about the night sky is one of the most central things that people in the society do. Observing within the society takes several forms, however, which are outlined below.

When you decide to go out and look at the sky, it's good to be prepared. With this in mind, take a look at some good observing tips.

Observing Safely

Attention is drawn to the safety requirements for events

Formally arranged observation nights

The society's council formally arranges several nights every month for people in the society to meet and observe. At present, there are two main locations where these nights are held -- at our dark sky observatory in Pauatahanui , and at the Gifford Observatory within central Wellington. A third observing evening is also normally arranged as a wandering star party at a volunteering member's residence.

The Thomas King Observatory next to the Carter Observatory, Kelburn is open on fine weekends, mainly Saturday nights.

Normally these observing nights are arranged on Saturday nights. The Gifford Observatory hosts the first Saturday of the month, the Pauatahanui site hosts the second Saturday with the wandering star party on the fourth Saturday. Special nights will be held on 15th and 16th October. See Events page
These details are normally announced in the newsletter and sometimes the announcements email list, and are subject to change. Please contact the relevant person if you'd like some more information.


Following the sucessful expedition of members to Martinborogh to observe the lunar graze of Sigma Scorpio on 31-July-2009 it has been suggested that we organise more similar exercises. If you would like to be informed of these events and would like to take part please send an email to John Talbot john.talbot@xtra.co.nz .
For more information on Occultations observing: Predictions: for AUS and NZ events and reportings forms and a range of related software.
for Global events.
Prediction Software: Occult 4 software for personal predictions and for Lunar events.
Occult Watcher software for most Minor Planet and most planetary mutual events. Both the above tools have 3 day weather forecast links built in. They can downloaded from RASNZ Occultation Section
Separate reporting forms for Lunar and MP events are at RASNZ Occultation Section
Send Lunar reports to Brian Loader moonocc@gmail.com at end of each month.
Grazes go to the local event co-ordinator if there is one eg Graham Blow for 31-July event and then to Mitsuru.Soma@nao.ac.jp
MP reports to John Talbot john.talbot@xtra.co.nz as soon as you can. For MPs please report both positive and negative (misses) results.
For visual observers try this fun reaction tester

Informally arranged observing groups

As well as the formal arrangements above, some members have formed their own localised sub-groups and organise their own activities.

These groups are informal, and the structure of them is defined by how the people involved choose to run them. Effectively, they are groups of people interested in observing who want to get to know others nearby, and go out observing in their own time.

If you'd like to contact people in one of the observing groups, please see the list of observing contacts. If you'd like to start one up in your area, please contact someone on the society's council, since they will likely be able to help you get in touch with other people in your area.

Observing facilities

In addition to having members with knowledge about observing the night sky, the society itself has several telescopes that are available for loan to members. It may also be possible to arrange use of either the Gifford or Pauatahanui observatories outside of the scheduled observing nights. (If you've never used them before, you may need to factor in some time to be trained.)

If you're interested in either of these and would like more details, please contact the person responsible for what you're interested in.

More information

If you'd like any more information about how to get involved in observing within the astronomical society, please contact one of the people listed here.

[<<< front page | top of page]