It’s no secret that we love Matariki at Stardome. In the days leading up to the month of Matariki Stardome is filled with students here to learn about this unique New Zealand connection to the stars. We also play our special planetarium show Matariki Dawn during the month of June. This immersive show was created by the Stardome team and OHU Domes and explains how to find Matariki and has two animated Maori stories – the tale of Rangi-nui and Papa-tū-ā-nuku and the story of Rona and the Moon.
There’s so much we could say about Matariki but we’ve selected our five favourite facts to share:
- Astronomers estimate the cluster will survive for about another 250 million years before the stars drift apart
- The stars in Matariki were formed around 100 million years ago – only 1/50th the age of our Sun
- Matariki contains around a thousand stars, but only some are visible with the unaided eye
- Matariki is located between 390 and 460 light-years away. This makes it one of the most easily viewable star clusters from Earth, which is why it has become an important calibration tool for calculating the distance to other stars in the universe.
- Even though the stars look close together from Earth, they are about three light-years apart. For perspective, our Solar System is one light-year across.
If you’re in Auckland don’t forget to check out the Matariki Festival website and join in the fun!