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The Matariki Stars Through a Lens and the Impact of Light Pollution

Matariki, the open star cluster also known as the Pleiades or the seven sisters in other cultures, holds profound significance in Māori culture, marking the Māori New Year. This celestial event, occurring around the winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere, signals the end of one year and the beginning of another. Traditionally, Matariki is a time for reflection, celebration, and preparation, aligning with the cycles of harvest and planting. It serves as a period to honor the past, celebrate the present, and plan for the future.


Original image: Messier 45 Open cluster by Filip Lolić / CC 3.0. This image has been edited (rotated, cropped and stars tagged) by NZ Parliamentary Library.


In this talk, Jordi Blasco will explore the astronomical importance of Matariki, delving into its role in guiding agricultural practices and community rituals. Jordi will examine the timing of Matariki's rise in the pre-dawn sky, coinciding with the shortest days of the year, and its connection to traditional Māori calendars.


However, the beauty and significance of Matariki are increasingly threatened by the pervasive issue of light pollution. During this talk, Jordi will address how artificial lighting disrupts the visibility of Matariki and other deep sky objects, impeding not only scientific observation but also cultural practices that rely on clear night skies. Highlighting current efforts and potential solutions, Jordi aims to raise awareness about the necessity of preserving dark skies for both cultural heritage and environmental health.


Join us as we journey through the stars, seasons, and stories of Matariki, understanding its importance and the urgent need to protect our night skies from the growing light pollution of modern civilization.


The Matariki stars through a lens and the impact of light pollution
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This talk was delivered on June 19, 2024, as part of the Matariki Festival organized by the Auckland Council Kaimahi.

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