Southland’s dark skies will be the focus of an event held next month as part of Invercargill’s Matariki celebrations.

‘Seeing Stars’– the Southland Dark Skies Story will be held at 7pm on Wednesday, July 4 at the former ASB building on Esk St, with guest speakers sharing their perspective on Southland night skies and what makes them unique.

Venture Southland is coordinating the event, which includes presentations from the Southland Astronomical Society, Dean Whaanga of Awarua Runanga and Te Ao Marama, and Aurora and night-sky photographer, Dr Stephen Voss.

The Southland Astronomical Society will talk about the special nature of the region’s night skies and the importance of protecting them, while Whaanga will discuss cultural navigation and planning by the stars.

Venture Southland tourism product development coordinator Amie Reid said Matariki was an ideal time to showcase opportunities associated with southern night skies.

“Our night skies are one of our region’s natural treasures and this event will showcase them, and highlight potential opportunities,” Reid said.

Southland’s night sky has the potential to be internationally recognised.

Venture Southland is working alongside the Stewart Island Promotion Association to establish a Dark Sky Sanctuary on Rakiura/ Stewart Island, with an application to the International Dark Sky Association currently being prepared.

To accompany ‘Seeing Stars’, Venture Southland is running  the ‘Dark Shot’, dark skies photography competition and hosting an exhibition by Dr Voss.

The exhibition, also at the former ASB Bank building, will be open to the public from 10am– 4pm on Saturday, July 7. It will also feature successful entries from the Dark Shot competition.

The events form part of the overall Matariki celebrations for Invercargill that are being led by Invercargill City Council.

Details on the ‘Seeing Stars’ event and how to enter the Dark Shot photography competition are available at: www.southlandnz.com