New Zealand’s place for space is ready for lift-off. The newly refurbished Carter Observatory, Wellington’s world-class visitor attraction and astronomy education facility, reopens on Saturday 27 March.
To celebrate there will be free entry to the observatory for the day and lots of other family fun, including comet and spectroscope making, story telling with Apirana Taylor and entertainment from Kiwi musican Bella Kalolo.
Located at the top of the Wellington Botanic Garden, just two minutes walk from the Cable Car, the observatory’s brand new nine-metre planetarium – a full-dome digital theatre will take visitors on a virtual tour deep into space far beyond our Solar System to the Southern Cross and Te Ikaroa (The Milky Way).
The new hands-on multimedia space will put visitors in control of their own space experience from the beginning of time. Discover the importance of the stars in traditional Māori navigation. Find out how New Zealand’s great astronomers used the stars and check out the observatory’s historic telescopes. All will be open to the public on the day.
The refurbishment of the observatory involved a structural, thermal, fire and electrical upgrade of the whole building. The interior was completely gutted, the brick exterior was earthquake strengthened and the roof, walls and floor insulated.
The Tenths Trust gifted the observatory with its Māori name Te Ara Whānui ki te Rangi, which translates to the expansive pathway to the heavens.
Sarah is particularly excited about a new Ministry of Education contract that will subsidise school visits to the observatory. “Thousands of children will come to the observatory each year. This will open the door to astronomy for children who may or may not have experienced the wonders of the planets and the universe before.”
The Council took over management of the observatory in December 2007 and has contributed $1.9m toward its refurbishment. The observatory will eventually be part of the Council’s Museums Trust.
Image: Carter Observatory