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Last modified: 29 Jul 2020 10:38am

Black and white photo of stars and dust clouds in the shape of two dragons facing each other

Cosmic dragons, Matariki and other sights from millions of miles away will be seen in West Melton in June.

As part of its Matariki celebrations Selwyn District Council is hosting an astrophotography exhibition featuring 11 photographs taken by photographers from the Canterbury Astronomical Society. The exhibition, featuring photos by Simon Lewis, Gary Steel and Dr Euan Mason from the University of Canterbury, opens on Tuesday 4 June and will be open for a month at the West Melton Community and Recreation Centre.

Although some of the photographs have been published in international science journals it is the first time the photographs have been displayed together in a public exhibition.

The exhibition is part of the Selwyn District Council’s month of Matariki celebrations. With most of the photographs taken in the district, at Greendale or the West Melton Observatory, the exhibition also highlights the beauty of the night sky that can be seen from many parts of the district, Council Community Relations Manager, Denise Kidd, says.

“Matariki is a celebration based on the stars and Selwyn is a great place to see the stars,” she says. “We want to show visitors what can be seen here, and also to encourage people in the district to look up and enjoy the amazing views we have here.”

The photographs include pictures of constellations Matariki and Orion and nebulae of fascinating shapes and colours, including an image of nebula in the constellation Ara described as resembling cosmic dragons.

As part of the celebrations, University of Canterbury Associate Professor Karen Pollard will give a talk on The Secret Life of Stars and Dr Mason will speak about the dark sky and the observatory at West Melton. The pair will be speaking from 7pm Monday 10 June at the Lincoln Event Centre. The Council is grateful for the support of the society and the university, Ms Kidd says.

“It’s great to be working in collaboration with the Canterbury Astronomical Society and the University of Canterbury and to have their generous support to help us learn more about the stars that are so important to our country.”