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Wairarapa Dark Sky part of major world-wide research project 

February 11, 2019 February 2019 No Comments

The South Wairarapa’s night sky is being monitored round the clock in Spain and contributing to a world-wide dark sky database,  thanks to a European research team.

The move follows Chairman of the Martinborough Dark Sky Society, Lee Mauger, making a  connection via Twitter with fellow Dark Sky enthusiast Carlos Eugenio Tapia Ayuga from Spain.

Carlos is part of the “Stars4All” team at the Complutense University of Madrid in Spain which has developed a new online dark sky monitoring meter called TESS.

The Stars4All project is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme,  the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever with nearly 80 billion Euros of funding available over seven years (2014 to 2020). Think of Horizon 2020 as New Zealand’s Provincial Growth Fund on steroids!

Carlos proposed the team in Spain fund a night sky meter so Martinborough could join the worldwide research network on light pollution. The TESS sensor now installed in Martinborough records cloud cover 24/7 and sky brightness every night. 

The Wellington Astronomical Society were also given a TESS meter for the Gifford Observatory in Wellington City, so now we can compare our light pollution to Wellington City and also many other locations around the world.

So far our best reading has been a spectacular 21.85, easily beating the benchmark for a gold standard dark sky reserve of 21.70. Total darkness is set at 22.00.

The light pollution graphs are available online here: http://tess-dashboards.stars4all.eu/d/I_akY0Fmz/s4a-photometer-network-new-zealand?orgId=1

The Martinborough Dark Sky Society, to celebrate its first birthday, has organised an open day (& night!) at the Waihinga Centre on Sat Feb 16th from 11am to 9pm. 

The open day will include an exhibition of world class night sky astrophotography from around the world and the Wairarapa from 11am to 4pm.  From 7pm to 9pm there will be an update on progress at the Martinborough Dark Sky Society AGM, which will be followed by public talks.

These include the brand new astrotourism collaboration of Becky Bateman (Under the Stars) and John Whitby from StarField Observatory. There is no charge to attend these events but space is limited so please come early to ensure a seat. 

Mauger said he’s delighted that the International Dark Sky Association (IDA, which certifies dark sky reserves) has let the Society print some copies of its 2019 calendar featuring local astrophotographer Glen Butler’s work on the cover of a photo of the dark sky at Palliser.

Glen has agreed to have some photographic quality prints made of three of his images from the Wairarapa. 

All three will be available for purchase from our website: www.martinboroughdarksky.org

Each comes with a free copy of the iconic 2019 IDA calendar. Glen has also kindly agreed all proceeds will be used to help support the Martinborough Dark Sky Society’s work to create a reserve.

Photo caption if used: Carlos Eugenio Tapai Ayuga

Hi Lindie, the photo is pretty low res, when I asked for a better one they sent this reply: 

The file size doesn’t correlate with resolution, it is a compressed JPG. Looks fine blown up to A4 size on my monitor.

That is the only photo of Carlos I can get at short notice’

 I don’t know enough about these things  to know if this is correct or not. So leave it to you, if it’s OK  use it, otherwise ignore it, it’s definitely not a big deal.   


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