Supported by a community network of outstanding astrophotographers and educators, Winterstellar Charitable Trust was established in 2022 to advance the appreciation, understanding and benefits of Otago’s dark skies and to promote Māori Mātauranga through astrophotography, astronomy and other arts.
Otago’s low population leads to some of Aoteroa/New Zealand’s darkest skies. From our location on the planet astride the 45 South parallel, the Southern Milky Way and Magellanic Clouds rise higher and stay longer in our night sky and we enjoy better visibility of the Aurora Australis than 99.99% of the world’s population who live further north.
This natural dark-sky resource at this unique location on the planet can be used to enhance economic, cultural, educational and recreational benefits for the region.
Dark-sky tourism is a growing sector of the tourism market. From ski fields to wineries, tramping tracks to bike trails, the region offers many attractions which can be enhanced by dark-sky tourism as part of the region’s post-pandemic repositioning in this market.
Dark skies can also be used to promote understanding and appreciation of Iwi culture through astronomy, including Matariki as Aoteroa/New Zealand celebrates its newest national holiday.
Astronomy under Otago’s dark skies also helps foster a science-aware society through a broad range of educational opportunities.
These benefits can only be realised by protection of our unique natural dark-sky resource. Protection not only yields efficiencies and cost-savings by addressing current ineffective and inefficient lighting, but also underscores the message of sustainable development through the development of lighting which illuminates the ground and does not pollute the sky.
Please go to the Donate page if you would like to make a donation towards the work of Winterstellar Charitable Trust.
Paul Le Comte
Paul is a landscape photographer and designer who lives on Otago Peninsula. As a geography teacher in his past life, his passion for meteorology and public information led to a Masters in Information Design, looking at possible new ways to share weather information.
Paul has been a photographer for over 35 years, travelling the length and breadth of Aotearoa NZ fascinated by the human connection to the physical processes that shape our planet. His passion for the landscapes of the Land of the Long White Cloud are only diminished when the clouds block the view of the southern aurora.
IT Consultant by day, astro-photographer by night. Co-curator of the Winterstellar Exhibition and part of the organisation team for the 2022 Winterstellar events. Using getting shots away with the camera as a substitute for on the football field.
Andy studied Astrophysics at Newcastle University and has recently completed the Aotearoa Astrotourism Academy course to become a Night Sky Guide. He also works through the summer at Trail Journeys, setting cyclists off on the Dunstan Trail from the Highlands Motorpark, Cromwell.
Professor Brian Boyle is a retired astrophysicist, formerly Director of Australia’s two largest professional observatories. His research interests were cosmology and quasars and Brian was part of the team which discovered the acceleration of the Universe.
Since retiring to Arrowtown, Brian has built his own observatory and now enjoys astrophotography under Otago’s Dark Skies.
He is passionate about promoting and protecting this unique natural resource for future generations.
Victoria lives and works out of Omakau, Central Otago. She has a huge passion for landscape photography, especially combining cloudscapes with dramatic geology.
Living in a rural dark sky location, she enjoys learning astrophotography techniques and hunting out new locations.