Image of the May 2022 Wilderness Magazine Cover Read more from the
May 2022 Issue
Home / Articles / Editorial

The night sky

The night sky is full of wonder - as this photo of the moon, Saturn, Venus and Mars demonstrates. Photo: Alistair Hall

Apparently, light pollution is so pervasive that one-third of the world’s population can no longer see the Milky Way – a galaxy of 100 thousand million stars. 

In big cities like Auckland, the view of the cosmos is a pale imitation of what can be found in remote places. 

I’m a bit of an amateur astronomer (in so much as I have a telescope and was a member of the Auckland Astronomical Society for many years), which is why I am particularly excited by the upcoming Matariki public holiday (June 24-26). Anything that raises awareness of the stars and the night sky is good in my book.

But Matariki is not just an opportunity to celebrate the night sky; it is a time of remembrance – to remember those who have died in the past year (in these pandemic times, it is glaringly relevant). 

Matariki is also a chance to reflect on the natural world. Some of the nine stars in the Matariki cluster (known also as Pleiades and Seven Sisters) represent the natural world – freshwater, saltwater, the forest, wind and rain. With the environment so intrinsically connected to Matariki, it’s a special chance to go tramping and spend time in nature.

Given the opportunity, I’d mark the holiday in one of New Zealand’s three dark sky reserves: Aotea/Great Barrier Island, Rakiura/Stewart Island, or the Mackenzie District (which includes Tekapo and Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park). Read our feature ‘Star-gazers paradise’ just how incredible the night sky is in these places and I’m sure you’ll also want to visit just to gaze at the eternity of the Milky Way. 

You may have noticed Wilderness arrived later than usual into your letterboxes and on the newsstand this month. Wilderness is printed by Ovato, which in early April shuttered most of its printing operation. This meant Wilderness needed to be printed on a different printing press which affected our schedule. Ovato closed due to difficulty in securing adequate paper supply. This is a problem faced by all printers in New Zealand as the cost of paper and shipping it here has more than doubled in recent months (this is one reason you may have noticed your toilet paper is more expensive this year). 

We have so far been able to absorb these costs but further price increases are coming and this may require us to raise the retail cover and subscription pricing of the magazine. 

I’ll share more when we have crunched the numbers but rest assured we will keep any price increases to a minimum. I expect to let you know by the June issue.