Experts to shine light on sightings

By Sophie Ryan

Northland Astronomical Society is offering some insight into the bright lights in the night sky that have been the topic of much discussion.

The Whangarei Observatory in Maunu will tonight host an evening in honour of Jupiter, the brightest light in the sky at the moment, and the most common explanation for UFO sightings.

Jupiter will only be seen in the lower north sky for a few more weeks before it disappears below the horizon, so Astronomical Society president Terry Hickey suggests this will be one of the last opportunities for a while to see the planet through a telescope on a clear night.

"People are amazed when they can easily see its four large moons along with its cloud bands," he said.

The evening will begin with a planetarium screening at 7.30pm then opportunities for people to use the telescopes to explore the night sky on their own.

Mr Hickey said even he can be stumped by unusual bright lights he sees in the sky, but enjoys finding out the answers. "There is so much more up there in the sky now than there was back in the day."

But he admits there are sightings which truly have no explanation. "It is a great chance to become more educated on the night sky, and when you have more authority on it you appreciate the stuff a lot more," he said.

When you learn about what is in the sky, he said, you can predict when certain things like satellites and planets will be visible.

Mr Hickey said at the event he will be teaching people his prediction techniques for the next very bright light that will be seen in a few weeks.

Entry to the event tonight is the same as normal observatory rates, $10 for adults, and $5 for kids.

- Northern Advocate

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