It’s a balmy evening. No cloud cover. The sun has set and the moon hasn’t risen yet. Himself and I went for a stroll up our rural road. No torch. No traffic. No streetlights. Few house-lights pinpoint the countryside. Ridges of the hills and local mountain are silhouetted against the faint glow of distant city lights.A remarkably still night and good visibility for stargazing.
A possum grunted. Pukeko squawked their raucous squawks. Morepork or Ruru ‘s (New Zealand’s night owl) distinctive moooorpoooork call echoed among the trees. Last year, friend Trish and I were lucky enough one evening to see a young morepork perched silently on a branch of one of our Totara trees. We stood still and silent. Round unblinking eyes solemnly stared. I’m not really sure who was watching who that evening. It was the night bird’s space. We were the intruders, so we quietly retreated.
It’s a good night to gaze at our summer night sky. We have often sat in our garden to watch the evening stars using binoculars and telescope with friends. Tonight, we had no need of these tools. While I recognise the Pot, I do need to refer to a NZ astronomy website to learn the names of the stars. A few I do know. Mars is distinctive. The seven sisters or Pleiades (Maori call this cluster Matariki) I’ve referred to in a previous post. The four brightest stars (on the NZ flag) of Southern Cross point the way to New Zealand. As wonderful as ever, Orion Belt – the Milky Way galaxy stretches across and into the night.
Maori have ancient knowledge of stars and they have many stories to tell. “Swimming across the darkness is Te Ikaroa (the Milky Way), the great fish of Rangi, the Sky Father.”
Adding to the magic tonight, a satellite sped across space and a meteor showered ever so briefly as it streaked northwards. So, I did what people do at moments like these and wished upon a shooting star ….