28 December 2022

Jupiter, Mars, the Moon, airglow and the Milky Way – plus some fabulous targets at Star Safari.

It was a beautiful calm night, with the Moon setting and lots of airglow.





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.

Another fabulous night for observing, despite the light from the Moon we saw plenty of targets. This is a screenshot from www.timeanddate.com of the Moon setting and rising times that night.

Here are some photos that were taken after 10:30 PM, our guests from that night can find a link to these photos in the email.

The night had quite a lot of airglow. Airglow has nothing to do with light pollution, due to the ionisation of particles in the air. 

A night of stargazing from Star Safari in Wairarapa.
Carina region of the Milky Way, 28 December 2022 – stack of 12 photos.

“Nighttime airglow (or nightglow) is a type of chemiluminescence—the emission of light from chemical interactions between oxygen, nitrogen, and other molecules in the upper atmosphere. Airglow occurs all around the Earth, all the time. However, “nightglow” is much easier to spot over a dark Earth than “dayglow,” as airglow is just one billionth as bright as the Sun. (NASA Aurora, Meet Airglow)NASA

Some observing targets on the 28th were: Alpha Centauri, Jewel Box, Eta Carinae, The Magellanic Clouds – 47 Tucane, and Tarantula Nebula. On the other side of the sky, Jupiter, which was beautiful, a bit close to the Moon but still visible, Mars, and Orion – with M42.

This night sky map on the 28 of December is made with Carte du Ciel – a free planetarium software. You can download a pdf version from the link where the photos are stored.

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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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.