The Stars of the Southern Hemisphere

We’re all stunned by the brilliance of the night sky here in the Hokianga. Last night was a clear night, with the kind of cold crisp air that sharpens the stars into diamonds. As we walked to our car after having dinner with some new friends, they pointed out the southern cross. We’d tried to identify it before, but we weren’t sure.

The southern cross is not that big, really. It’s like a delicate small kite flying amongst giants in the sky. As you stand there and let your eyes get used to looking at the punctuated blackness, the milky way is clearly visible as a bright band. A. said that before now, he thought pictures of starry skies were made up.

We’re nearing the end of Matariki (from 21 June to 21 July), an annual celebration marking the time when the constellation becomes visible again, and also the Maori New Year. This constellation is known in other cultures too: Subaru in Japan (hence the stars on their logo), Pleiades or the Seven Sisters in the Western world. Hey! I just realized we bought a Subaru during Matariki. Perfect.

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