From the rings of Saturn to craters on the moon, the Tauranga Astronomical Society sees it all and thanks to their family viewing nights, so can anyone else.
"The Tauranga Astronomical Society has been going for over 20 years here where we have an observatory in Fergusson Park, Matua," said president David Greig.
Viewing nights include interactive presentations explaining the science in the night sky. On Monday this week, the telescopes were trained on our moon, because it was an ideal night being a first quarter moon.
On a good night, there's plenty to see.
"Obviously we have great views of the moon but we can also see the rings of Saturn, the moons of Jupiter, we can see nebulae and galaxies and star clusters.
"We often get very excited reactions from the children and the adults as well who have never looked through a telescope," Greig said.
"A lot of them want to see the man on the moon or some alien waving back at them! But a lot of them are just excited to learn about astronomy, space, the stars and planets."
For kids, Monday's viewing night was all about spying on the moon.
"You could see the craters on it," 7-year-old Ollie Talbut said, while his 9-year-old brother, Harry said "I've looked through the big telescope at the craters on the moon, and I also looked through the little telescope."
Their mother, Sarah, says the society does a great job of educating locals about what's happening above them.
"I actually follow the Facebook page and quite often they'll post on there when the International Space Station's going over and the Star Link," she said.
"We're a scouting family and we're going to start going on overnight hikes where we can see the sky, so this is a good lead-in to that as they get older."
The jewel in the society's crown is a 14" telescope that can see light years away. And taking photos of the night sky is just as popular as looking at it.
"Some of our members are also into astrophotography and they produce some incredible pictures of nebulae, galaxies and star clusters and so forth," said Greig.
For anyone keen on stargazing but put off by the astronomical costs of a large telescope, there are cheaper options.
"You can buy telescopes for home. We recommend people do that. It's a great way to get into astronomy. But to be able to see the craters of the moon or the rings of Saturn, moons of Jupiter etc, you would need to look through a telescope," Greig said.
Regular meetings are held on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at the Fergusson Park observatory - $5 or free for members.
Made with funding from