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Follow the stars to Stonehenge

By Jessica Morris

Experienced astronomers and budding enthusiasts alike will be flocking to Stonehenge Aotearoa for Stardate in late January.

The three-day convention will include a range of talks from top astronomers, workshops and night-sky observing sessions, as well as live music, a late-night movie viewing and a field-trip to glow-worm caves among other events.

The convention is run by Richard Hall and Kay Leather of the Phoenix Astronomical Society and Stonehenge Aotearoa.

Mr Hall and Ms Leather have been running Stardate for around 20 years, and moved the convention to Stonehenge Aotearoa, near Carterton, last year.

Ms Leather said that “the site provides spectacular scenery and near perfect observing conditions.”

While Stardate has traditionally been “a meeting of lots of astronomers, where they can share their interest and look at each others telescopes”, there has been an addition of other events to entice even the most amateur of stargazers.

Ms Leather said they have focused on “opening it up so it’s not just astronomy, there is also a focus on geology as well as a more varied programme for the general public”.

She is confident that this year’s exciting programme will draw people in, and hopes that Stardate will be able to “make them curious, make them want to find out something more”.

Stardate will run from January 27 to January 29.

Camping and caravans spaces will be provided in order of arrival on the day.

Registration fees are $30 and children attend free.

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