John Rowe is one of Stardome’s Astronomy Educators, as well as a part-time public programmes presenter. You may have seen him leading a class of students through Space Room learning sessions and Space Gallery explorations. Or, you may have been wowed by his Our Night Sky planetarium shows on Wednesday evenings. John is also the voice behind our monthly Space News ‘Sky Spotter’ Column, runs the Adopt A Star programme and has, in the past, dabbled in courtyard telescope viewing and Zeiss telescope operations. We sat down with him to learn a little more about his interest in astronomy and how it got him to where he is today.
My interest in astronomy began at eight years old when I found a book in our school library, “Exploring the Planets”. This was the 1960’s and for me it was just ‘the best’ time to be growing up. The race for the Moon was on and it was inspiring. The schooling that followed did not nurture my interest, and my career took a different path. Outside work, early on, I did volunteer child/youth work which I loved, and I also learned to fly. In my 30’s my interest in astronomy was rekindled and I became a frequent library visitor. In 2011 I joined the Auckland Astronomical Society (AAS) and attended every event that I could.
How long have you worked/volunteered at Stardome?
I became a Stardome volunteer in 2012 assisting customers with courtyard telescope viewing. From 2013-2016 I ran EWB Zeiss telescope public sessions.
At the end of 2013 I was made redundant, and after a few months ‘holiday’, was offered a temporary administration position with Stardome. This became permanent, later expanded into education, with the metamorphosis becoming complete by mid-2016.
What is the best part about being here?
In three words, I love astronomy. There’s something about the scale and mystery of the Universe that captivates. I get a kick out of sharing my knowledge with 10,000+ school students each year. I also enjoy running the occasional public planetarium sessions in the evenings.
Tell us about your favourite astronomical object
The globular star cluster 47 Tucanae is a jewel of the southern sky. At roughly 15,000 light years distant it appears as a misty star to the unaided eye. A medium sized telescope begins to reveal its beauty and some of its millions of member stars.
Who is your favourite science fiction character and why?
Captain Jean-Luc Picard of Star Trek Next Generation. His integrity. “Tea, Earl Grey, Hot”.
3, 2, 1, LIFTOFF! John in action during a rocket launch count down with a preschool, 2018.