Author(s): HEARNSHAW JOHN & GILMORE ALAN
Mt John University Observatory is New Zealand's only professional research observatory for optical astronomy. John Hearnshaw, a past director of the observatory, has delved into the observatory archives to write this engaging account of Mt John's fascinating history. Alan Gilmore, the recently retired observatory superintendent, has added to this with his personal recollections, having worked at the observatory for more than 34 years. Fifty years ago, in 1965, Mt John University Observatory was founded at Lake Tekapo in the Mackenzie Basin to take advantage of the favourable conditions for astronomy. Telescopes were installed, and in 1981 a lighting ordinance helped protect the site from light pollution. Astronomical research had been thriving on Mt John for 40 years when astro-tourism started to take off, largely due to the venture company Earth & Sky. Today Mt John is both a research observatory and a mecca for stargazing astro-tourists, who come to see the pristine landscape and the amazing dark night skies. It is one of the most beautiful astronomical observatories in the world, but also a place with an often turbulent history, having been rocked by personality battles, funding shortfalls, student demonstrations and on one occasion, a destructive fire. In spite of all that, its scientific work has been an outstanding success, and Mt John's research work, especially in stellar astronomy, is known and respected around the world. Mt John - The First 50 Years: A celebration of half a century of optical astronomy at the University of Canterbury is richly illustrated, with almost 200 figures, many of them outstanding landscape and nightscape photographs taken by the acclaimed Tekapo photographer, Fraser Gunn.
"Our children's children will look up to the dark sky the future territory for scientific and spiritual exploration. Mt John Observatory should be recognized, celebrated, and protected as a window to our universe and I recommend this definitive, stunningly illustrated history of Mt John." " Graeme Murray, ""Earth & Sky""
John Hearnshaw is Emeritus Professor of Astronomy at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. He is the former director of Mt John Observatory, has won the Mechaelis Prize for Astronomy, and was elected foreign research associate for the Royal Astronomical Society, London. Alan Gilmore worked at Wellington's Carter Observatory and established, with his wife Pam Kilmartin, a program tracking southern comets and near-Earth asteroids. He was Mt John superintendent (site manager) from 1996 until 2014, and has won the Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand's Murray Geddes Prize and the Nova Award of the American Association of Variable Star Observers.