For the last two weeks or so we’ve been treated to a nice grouping of planets rising in the northeast each morning around dawn. Here’s a few photos I took on my little Canon IXUS with exposures in the 5-15sec range. Be sure to click through to the Picasa album for full size images…

Jupiter, Mercury, Venus (brightest) and Mars, 6:21am 13 May 2011:


Jupiter, Venus and Mercury, 6:16am 19 May 2011:


Jupiter, Mars, Moon, Venus and Mercury (low on the horizon between Petone and Somes Island), 6:43am 31 May 2011:


Mars, Moon, Venus and Mercury, 6:44am 31 May 2011:


To help identify the stars and/or planets, I use and recommend Your Sky – a fantastic site/tool to make a sky map for any location and time. To get started, look for the links to select a nearby city – for example, here’s the current sky map and horizon view for Wellington. On a related note, if you want to track satellites in real time, try this website which lets you track all sorts of satellites overlayed on a Google map, as well as the International Space Station.

Boeing 777 at Wellington Airport

A quick post to share some links following Air NZ’s Boeing 777 visit to Wellington today. The kids and I spotted it sitting at one of the gates this afternoon, and I saw it climb out of the airport this evening when it blasted off – empty bar essential crew so it performed rather well!

To highlight just how big the 777 is, check out Rodney’s Aviation Ramblings Blog where he posted some pics showing a Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 taxiing past…

As for the incredible rate of climb on take-off, take a look at this short vid:

Wow! 😀

Silver Stream Railway

Matt and I visited the Silver Stream Railway yesterday and had several(!) rides on this little beauty:

That’s a New Zealand Railways L Class locomotive built in 1877 by the Avonside Engine Co Ltd, Bristol, England. My little cheat sheet also tells me the engine weight is 20.3 tonnes, has 2 cylinders (diameter 267mm, stroke 457mm), operated at 160psi and has the road number PWD 509 (NZR 219). It’s pulling a pair of NZ Railways Aa Class carriages, one built in 1925 in Newmarket and the other in 1912 in Petone, which are still in very good condition:

Also at the railway are a bunch of old engines and carriages being lovingly restored in the workshops where you can get a tour on request, along with some memorabilia in the station buildings.

For more of my photos click through to this album, and if you want more info about the Silver Stream Railway see their website at: They’re open Sundays 11am-4pm at a cost of $12 for adults, $6 for children and free for under 5’s which gives an all day ticket for short train rides (the track is 1.5km long). Oh, and if you’ve got a train/Thomas enthusiast with you then you’ll probably need to budget a little extra for spending in the shop! 😉

Life Flight Open Day

Props to the folks at Life Flight – they certainly put on a good Open Day.

Matt and I headed down to the airport yesterday to see the aircraft and emergency vehicles on display. As well as the Rescue Helicopter and Life Flight Metroliner, the airport fire trucks put on a display, and the Police, Ambulance Service, Army Bomb Squad, and Customs Service dogs were all in attendance. Also for the kids was face painting, bouncy castles and hot dogs (applies to adults too!). Needless to say Matt had a great time and it was well worth the $5 donation – especially given the cause. Here’s a few pics from my Life Flight Open Day album,

Matt in the rescue chopper,

Controlling the bomb squad robot,

Driving the Police car,

Aero Club Open Day

The Wellington Aero Club hosted their Aviation Open Day last weekend, and here’s a few pics…

A few more of my photos can be found in my Aero Club Open Day, 2010 album. And if you want more pics, check out Rodney’s Aviation Ramblings – a Wellington focused aviation blog that’s well worth checking out!

Sevens 2010 weather looking superb!

The 7-day rainfall maps at are looking pretty good for the 7’s this year:

7pm Fri 5th Feb:

7pm Sat 6th Feb:

Bring it on! 😀

Southerly winds for Wellington Anniversary Weekend

Here’s the latest Press Release from MetService:

The MetService weather forecast for Wellington’s long weekend is for more of the same, with periods of southerly wind and passing showers.

“The last dry weekend in Wellington was in mid-November last year”, commented MetService Weather Ambassador, Bob McDavitt. “So it is no great surprise that showery southerlies are likely again during the coming Anniversary weekend”.

Mr. McDavitt added that the showers and southerly winds are not expected to be as intense as last weekend, and should not require any weather warnings. “There is a complex trough affecting the North Island for the next few days, and it seems set to deliver one period of southerlies to the region on Friday lasting through Saturday, and another late on Sunday or early on Monday”.

“Wellington’s anniversary holiday is celebrated on Monday by people living in a large part of the south half of the North Island. If you are in this area and looking for some sunny mild weather with light winds this weekend to plan an anniversary BBQ or have some outdoor fun then your best bet is Sunday during the day”.

Issued 01:58pm 21-Jan-2010


And my take on it: