For Hāwera Astronomical Society president Daniel Hovell, watching the stars is better than tuning into a television show.

The Hāwera Astronomical Society is a non-profit organisation which operates out of the Hāwera Observatory.

The society holds monthly meetings, where members catch up and use equipment to view the night sky.

Grants and donations received by the society go towards buying the equipment.


Daniel says the equipment can be used to view stars, planets, moons, meteors, comets, galaxies and nebulae.

"We have six telescopes. These include a 100-year-old Cooke Refractor telescope located in the dome and a fairly new computerised Celestron Schmidt Cassegrain telescope."

While all the members have an common interest in astronomy, they each have their individual field they are interested in.

"This is great as we get to share different skills when we get together for the meetings."

The community can organise a time to use the equipment without being a member, he says.

"We need to arrange a time a member can go with them and help operate the equipment. We encourage people to be curious and make use of what we have to offer.

"If a small group just wants to have a one-off visit, that can be arranged for them. This is weather dependent as the telescopes cannot see through clouds."

He says if people are wanting to pursue their interest, he encourages them to come along to the meetings to see if they are interested in becoming a member.


Daniel has been the president of the club for the past 10 years.

"I had a few friends who went to the meetings and I decided to go as well. A short time after I was made president."

He says his interest started in 1986.

"I saw Halley's comet through a telescope and my interest grew from there. The comet returns to Earth's vicinity every 75 years."

He says he enjoys being a member of the Society.

"It's a unique group to be a part of, filled with like minded people. I'm a am member because of my interest and it's nice to have people to share that interest with.


"You learn from others as much as they can learn from you."

The society often runs public openings for astronomical events.

"These depend on what is happening in the sky. We want to share our knowledge and equipment with others."

He says the society also works closely with schools and other groups.

"They come in and we can tailor their experience to what they're studying or what they're interested in."

While the astronomical society is happy to take donations, they are not expected, Daniel says.


"We want people to take use of a great community resource. When astronomical events happen, they're among the greatest phenomenon you'll ever see."

Daniel says he would rather watch the stars than television.

"It is more real and an experience you can share with others. There are some spectacular things you can see, it is really great."

■ The Hāwera Astronomical Society meets on the second Wednesday of each month at 7pm normal time and 8pm during daylight savings. It costs $15 a year to become a member and $20 for a family.

For more information, to arrange a group booking or to become a member, visit the Hāwera Astronomical Society Facebook page.