Stargazing Down Under

We’re currently in New Zealand on our honeymoon and we were lucky enough to have dark clear skies for a couple of nights. And let me tell you that we’ve been blessed by the spectacle that is the sky in the Southern Hemisphere.

I’ve never been below the equator, so looking up at night was personally quite a big experience. All the stars are wrong! At least they are wrong for us. For me especially, having learnt all the northern hemisphere constellations by the time I was seven and spent countless nights looking at them, seeing a sky that lacked the familiar features was a big shock. Everything that I remembered of the southern sky turns out to be very limited.

But some features that I could recall where there, and were incredible. The Crux was particularly clear and beautiful.

There was Orion chasing the Pleiades with Sirius next to him. Orion was upside down of course, and that made my favourite constellation seem odd. Like I said, it’s all wrong!

There’s was one thing that I was really interested in seeing and I was able to catch a glimpse of it: the Large Magellanic Cloud. The LMC is one of the dwarf galaxies which orbit around the Milky Way, and it’s visible, with the Small Magellanic Cloud, exclusively from the Southern Hemisphere.

Unfortunately we had to contend with the extremely bright supermoon (a full moon when our satellite is at its nearest point to the Earth) and we could only see a vague shape rather than its full splendour. Taking a picture was even worse.

I was a bit annoyed, but my friend Dan was able to cheer me right up by texting me this:

Still, photons from the dwarf galaxies directly entered your eyes 😍

Which just made this the coolest night here! Always surround yourself with wise friends. And do make sure to check the Moon before booking any holidays if you’re hoping to see the Magellanic Clouds!

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