From December 2022 until February 2023, the New Zealand Astrobiology Network with the support of our amazing sponsors and supporters, the Carterton City Council, Destination Wairarpa and our fabulous volunteers run a proof of concept Space Science Centre in Carterton, Wairarapa.
We wanted to run a proof of concept for a Space Science Centre in Wairarapa. The project was designed to coincide with Wairarapa being designated a Dark Sky Reserve. Our exhibition “Look after our night sky” was launched especially to celebrate and explain what a dark sky reserve is.
The Wairarapa.Space was a new space-focused pop-up exhibition in Wairarapa over the 2022-2023 summer holiday was the first of its kind in New Zealand.
Based on a family-friendly theme, the Wairarapa Space Science Centre offered people the chance to have several interactive experiences and learn more about what lies outside Earth’s realm and how humans interact with those vast expanses.
The Wairarapa Space Science Centre (WSSC) was an innovative pop-up establishment dedicated to exploring and appreciating the cosmos. Housed in the charming, historic Post Office building at the corner of Holloway and High Street in Carterton, Wairarapa, the WSSC transformed the space once known as ‘Video Ezy’ into a dynamic and engaging hub of scientific discovery.
Visitors were on an immersive journey, beginning with a captivating Mars Exhibition. This presented a vivid picture of the Red Planet, complete with models of Mars rovers that provided an in-depth understanding of our interplanetary endeavours. This exhibit sparked the imagination, daring to dream of what a human footprint on Martian soil might mean for our species.
In addition to Mars, the WSSC hosted a unique free Dark Sky Exhibition to celebrate the newly appointed Wairarapa Dark Sky Reserve. This powerful, free presentation emphasizes the importance of preserving our night skies. It calls for collective action against light pollution, a growing problem that obscures our celestial view and disrupts nocturnal wildlife. The exhibition aims to ensure future generations can still marvel at the same star-studded canvas that has inspired humanity for millennia.
The crowning glory of the WSSC was undoubtedly our portable planetarium. This innovative feature’s flexible, easily transported design allowed us to bring the boundless universe directly to our visitors. Enhanced by interactive software based on rigorous scientific data and created in partnership with NASA, the planetarium delivered a captivating, immersive experience.
Our enthusiastic presenters, space science communicators Sam and Hari, were the heart and soul of the planetarium. Every day for 45 spectacular days, they passionately guided visitors through live shows on the hour, offering a grand tour of the cosmos that combined both entertainment and education.
Furthermore, Sam and Hari led exhibition tours, adding personal insights, answering queries, and ensuring that each visitor’s journey through the universe was as enriching and fulfilling as possible. Their tireless dedication and love for the stars made the WSSC truly out of this world.
The Wairarapa Space Science Centre served as a beacon of scientific learning and exploration, engaging visitors with its exhibitions and activities and fostering a deeper appreciation for the universe in which we live.
he Wairarapa Space Science Centre was a proud project of The New Zealand Astrobiology Network, a charitable trust that fosters interest and research in astrobiology. We invite you to continue exploring the universe with us at www.astrobiology.nz.
We would love to see a permanent in Carterton, and we are working with a dedicated group of supporters towards this goal.