‘Kiwi’ found in outer space

An astrophotographer has discovered a Kiwi in outer space from New Zealand’s internationally renowned Mt John Observatory.

It may be 26,000 light years away, but a high powered astro-photograph has picked up the distinct image of New Zealand’s national icon in the centre of the Milky Way Galaxy.

The image of the flightless bird was captured by experienced photographer Fraser Gunn.
Gunn, who has recently begun astrophotography with Earth and Sky Stargazing Tours at Lake Tekapo’s Mt John Observatory, is delighted with the discovery.
“When looking at the area with the naked eye it’s difficult to locate the Kiwi but my camera allows greater light and colour into the image giving it more definition.
Graeme Murray, director of Earth and Sky Tours, says Fraser has become a leader in New Zealand astrophotography and is fast gaining international acclaim.
“His animation scenes of the night sky are quite remarkable. On a series of clear nights Fraser has taken a sequence of more than 1,000 photos between sunset and sunrise and then condenses the shots into about two minutes. It captures the full picture of what’s happening in space.”
Run by the University of Canterbury, Mt John Observatory is the centre of New Zealand’s space research programme and is regarded by astronomers as possibly the best site in the world to view the Milky Way and the centre of our universe.
Its uniquely dark skies, devoid of city light pollution, and high number of clear nights and atmospheric stability and transparency make it perfect for stargazing.
The Mackenzie region, where Mt John Observatory is based, is considered New Zealand’s best stargazing spot and has been named the fourth best place in the world to go stargazing by United States travel website VirtualTourist.com.
In fact, the quality of stargazing is so good that the Mackenzie region has a bid underway to establish its night skies as a UNESCO World Heritage Starlight Reserve

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