10th of February 2023

At Star Safari you will learn about the science behind the night sky’s beauty. Come and find out how stars work.

The Cat Star rules the sky and if you draw a line from the Dog Star to the Cat Star you will find the Large Magellanic Cloud – a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way. At Star Safari we had a great sky with fantastic seeing and transparency until the Moon came up just around 10:30 PM. The sky was very dark too. We observed lots of deep sky objects.


very good


very good

Darkness – Bortle scale


Seeing measures the steadiness of the atmosphere.


Amateur astronomers use the Antoniadi scale for seeing conditions.

Eugène Antoniadi was a Greek astronomer, who lived from 1870 to 1944, famous for creating the first map of Mercury and supporting through his observations the fact that the famous canals on Mars were an optical illusion. A crater on the Moon, one on Mars and a dorsum on Mercury were named in his honour.

His seeing scale is used even today by amateur astronomers:

The scale is a five-point system, with 1 being the best seeing conditions and 5 being the worst. The actual definitions are as follows:

  1. (I.) Perfect seeing, without a quiver.
  2. (II.) Slight quivering of the image with moments of calm lasting several seconds.
  3. (III.) Moderate seeing with larger air tremors that blur the image.
  4. (IV.) Poor seeing, constant troublesome undulations of the image.
  5. (V.) Very bad seeing, hardly stable enough to allow a rough sketch to be made.

Note that the scale is usually indicated by use of a Roman numeral or an ordinary number.

Transparency of the sky

Transparency measures the clarity of the atmosphere.


It is affected by dust, smoke, and humidity, which .end to reflect light pollution back towards the observer increasing the brigthtness of the background sky. In addition, it is affected by clouds. 


Darkness measures the effect of light pollution on the objects we observe in the night sky. 

The Bortle Scale was invented by  John E. Bortle who published it in the February 2001 edition of Sky & Telescope magazine to help amateur astronomers evaluate the darkness of an observing site, and secondarily, to compare the darkness of observing sites.

What's with all the red light in the photos

We use only red light to preserve our night vision during a Star Safari. Our camera is also very sensitive to red light and combined with all the red lights that we use to illuminate the paths for safety, turns everthing into the fabulous red you see when we take long exposure photos. In reality these are fairy lights and red light torches.

The Cat star is one of our favourite stars. It is Canopus, the second brightest star in the sky. Canopus is significant in many cultures; visible with the unaided eye from twilight, it is a circumpolar star from New Zealand, which means it is always in the sky, doing circles around the South Celestial Pole. We talked about Canopus, its significance in many cultures, and how it became the Cat Star.

The first part of the night was very dark, with exceptional stargazing conditions. Processing the photos from the night, we also found a faint aurora.

Aurora australis from Star Safari
There is a faint pink light pillar to the right of the Milky Way. Both the pillar and the colour of the sky on the horizon are caused by an Aurora Australis.

The Moon came up just in time for our second stargazing session, making a great background for some excellent photos.

We saw some nebulae – Spiral Nebula in Musca, M 42 Orion’s Nebula; some star clusters – Omega Centauri, 47 Tucanae, Pearl Cluster, Jewel Box; a galaxy – Sculptor; some planets – Mars, Jupiter and its Galilean moons, and a comet C/2022 E 3 ZTF, just to list a few. We also looked at the Moon.

Access the rest of the photos here.

We hope you enjoyed your Star Safari and we look forward to seeing you back.

a map of the night sky on 10th of February 2023 from Star Safari

Learn more about what’s in the sky this month from our Milky-Way.Kiwi site.

Find out more about the Dark Sky Places we now have in New Zealand 

Would you like to help looking after our night sky? Join Globe at Night, our Citizen Scientist network and become a citizen scientist yourself. 

All you have to do is count the number of stars on your street on a moonless night and report it online. We can show you how.

Star Safari Observatory

41º 08′ 32.57” S
175º 31′ 03.98” E

Elevation 180m

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Terms and conditions for Star Safari

On purchasing a ticket for Star Safari you agree to our terms and conditions and our cancellation policy as outlined below. You also agree to follow the instructions of Milky-Way.Kiwi Ltd staff and adhere to our safety directions and procedures at all times.

A Moon Garden for you

I grew up in an enchanted garden where the sky descended upon the world every night, bringing ripe heavenly summer fragrances, as the stars were watching from above. There was no border to separate the sky from the Earth. To simply to create that magic, is the only reason you need to have a Moon Garden.