At the heart of our galaxy lies a mysterious dark patch against the dazzling backdrop of billions of stars forming the Milky Way. This celestial marvel, known as the Dark Horse in the Northern Hemisphere, takes on the endearing shape of a Kiwi Bird when viewed from New Zealand—introducing the Milky Way kiwi.
The giant galactic kiwi bird was acknowledged in the 1980s when a group of enthusiastic astrophotographers taking photos of the night sky realised that the Dark Horse asterism also looks like our national bird. But you must be of New Zealand or know about our beloved kiwi birds to recognise that shape. It was so evident from here rather than anywhere else in the world. New Zealanders like their horses, too, but the Kiwi bird won this time. We know of the story from astrophotographer Ian Cooper. It is now known by a few names. Perhaps the most popular is the Galactic Kiwi, but we like to call it the Milky Way Kiwi.
In addition to the Kiwi in the Milky Way, our logo features the iconic stars of the Southern Cross and Centaurus – we love looking at that region during our Star Safari experiences, as it is spectacular. These stars hold a special place in the New Zealand sky, as they are circumpolar—always visible, spinning their celestial magic.
Our kiwi bird is nestled at the core of the Milky Way. Perched atop its head, like a cosmic crown, is Sagittarius A*—the supermassive black hole at the centre of our galaxy. The inquisitive Milky Way Kiwi gazes at the stars of the Southern Cross, which, alongside Centaurus, form the delightful New Zealand asterism known as “the Fish in the Frying Pan”—an intricate group of stars you can spot within our logo. These stars are iconic celestial symbols for New Zealand, weaving an enchanting tale of cosmic exploration and our unique connection to the stars above.
Our Star Safari logo is a registered trademark.
During the International Year of Astronomy, 2009, Hari was studying graphic design to learn how to make better posters and marketing materials for her stargazing events, and she was tasked to produce a magazine as a student project. Instead of an imaginary magazine, she created a real one: New Zealand’s first Astrophotography magazine. As she interviewed many famous Kiwi astrophotographers, she thought it was only fit to name it Milky Way Kiwi, arguing that we are all Milky Way Kiwis here in New Zealand or anywhere else in the world if we love to look up. The magazine morphed into a space and astronomy blog – with the same name – Milky-Way.Kiwi, now our company’s official name.
Since we started our full-time careers as space science communicators, we created two experiences. One is Star Safari, where we look at the night sky from our Wairarapa Dark Sky Reserve magical spot at Star Safari Observatory. The other is SpacewardBound.NZ, where we go to schools with our portable planetarium and teach space sciences to teachers through PLD and students.
It is the best job ever as we absolutely love talking about space and sharing the mysteries of sciences – space sciences.