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Blog

The blog is where we'll post news, updates, information about objects in our collection, #betterworkstories, profiles of staff members and visitors, pictures and videos, and really anything we think you'd find interesting. We hope you enjoy. 

If there's a topic you'd like us to do a post about, or a post that you think needs a sequel, just let us know!

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Extreme Science Outreach

Otago Museum is taking its commitment to science outreach to the extreme again this year, travelling 3,500 kilometres to Niue and the Cook Islands to deliver the Far from Frozen science showcase. With the support of the United States Embassy and Air New Zealand, a team from Otago Museum will travel to Alofi, Niue this Friday for a week of school sessions, shows and workshops that will engage nearly 500 students as well as community members. The showcase includes interactive displays, demonstrations, and virtual reality experiences all designed to communicate the science behind climate change. Craig Grant, Director Science Engagement and Visitor Experience, says, “We believe it’s essential to bring this showcase to those...

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Mere Pounamu: Kahutai

Mere pounamu are probably one of the more iconic taoka of the Māori world. Designed as a close quarter weapon, there are a number of grisly descriptions in 19th century ethnographic accounts as to how they were used with great effect to dispatch an enemy combatant.  Mere pounamu are associated with rakatirataka and mana – chiefly attributes and status. Many mere pounamu were named and feature prominently in iwi histories; some so well-known and revered that they assumed supernatural powers in the retelling of their exploits. Mere pounamu were handed down from generation to generation, accruing increased mana with each successive owner. This particular mere pounamu, Kahutai, belonged to the well-known 19th century...

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New Species of Body Snatching Hairworm Discovered in Otago

When MSc research student Zachary Tobias arrived at the University of Otago from the United States, little did he know that he’d end up discovering a new species of hairworm. However in March 2016 he and his then fiancé (now wife), Brenah Hearne, made a unique find while collecting specimens for Zac’s research at the Rock and Pillar Range, near Dunedin. “We had been collecting these parasites all summer, but to the naked eye this particular specimen didn’t seem a whole lot different from the others. However, after having a look at the genetic data, it was obvious it was special. My collaborator Andreas Schmidt-Rhaesa, the worldwide expert on hairworm taxonomy, confirmed...

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Stories from Mt John: Astrophotography Basics

Astrophotography is awesome fun, so long as you don’t mind being up late! But it can feel pretty intimidating when beginning. A good place to start is photographing something like the moon and using it to practice the basics of astrophotography and photo editing. The moon, especially when full, is very bright in the night sky. So, we don’t need super expensive gear to get high-quality pictures! An entry level DSLR will easily do the trick; the most important part of getting a detailed shot of the moon is the lens. You’ll want a 200mm lens or longer for lunar photography and a tripod.   Moon 1 200mm, ISO 800, f/5.6,...

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Stories from Mt John: Finding Mars

Now that the eclipse is over, the time has really come for #marsmania! Mars is so close to Earth and bright in late July (27th-31st) that observations will be the best possible until October 2020. Subsequently, one of the most common questions we get at the museum is “what is that bright thing in the sky?” Currently the answer is always Mars! Early in the evening you will see Mars to the east and it will stay in our sky all night long. Tonight the simplest way to find Mars is to look for the moon. It is full in our sky for the next few nights and this means...

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Science Kids: Stoking students’ enthusiasm for science

Science Kids was a fun, science discovery programme which ran over eight weeks of a school term. Developed by Otago Museum and delivered in partnership with the Methodist Mission, the aim was to create a hands-on and interactive programme where children could learn about a different aspect of science each week using the wealth of resources at Otago Museum. Students would be challenged to master skills in self-awareness and self-management through scientific discovery and exploration. Every week was different, with visits to a range of Museum galleries, the Tūhura Science Centre and the Tropical Forest butterfly house. The programme culminated with two special visits – one to the Museum conservation lab to...

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Stories from Mt John: Seeing

“Seeing” is one factor that makes a big difference to good planetary photography. Seeing refers to the impact the Earth’s atmosphere has on the telescopes ability to pick up a stable image. In the video below you can see the planet Mars wobbling around. That is the seeing. Bad seeing means there is lots of wobble - good seeing is a nice steady image. Seeing is hard to predict, except to say that it tends to be worse when the planet is lower in the sky, where there is more atmosphere between the telescope and the planet. To counteract bad seeing the photos we are taking are composites of thousands of...

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Mars Mania at Mt John!

It’s time to get up close and personal with Mars! This July, Earth is getting the closest to the little red planet that it has been in 15 years. Earth will be between the Sun and Mars (in opposition) on 27 July, closely coinciding with Mars’ perihelion (the closest point in its orbit to the sun). To celebrate this exciting event, the Otago Museum will be utilising one of the high powered telescopes at the Mt John Observatory. Located in Tekapo and the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, this location allows ideal views of the night sky because it is one of only eight places in the world where...

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Memories of Otago Museum

As the Otago Museum prepares to mark its 150th anniversary this September, planning is well underway for a superlative exhibition to celebrate. Now Dunedin locals will have a chance to add their own memories to the eclectic collection over a century in the making. Museum staff are calling for those who have stories to tell or pictures to share of their experience of the Otago Museum, from any time in the past century and a half. Head of Design Craig Scott explains, “We’ve created space in the exhibition design so we can include our community’s stories – the community is after all an integral part of the Museum’s history and success....

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How do scientists describe a new species?

It’s not unusual to come across a report of a newly discovered species while flicking through the newspaper or listening to the local news. Those that are named after famous people even make it to the international media - such as the new species of horsefly, Scaptia beyonceae, named after the singer Beyoncé, which made headlines a few years ago! Whether it’s the Hitler beetle, Anophthalmus hitleri, or the Trump moth, Neopalpa donaldtrumpi, perhaps you’ve wondered what qualifies a species as new to science and how they get their interesting, or not so interesting, names? Well, when an expert finds what they think is a previously unknown species, they begin comparing...

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About

Our blog aims to keep you informed of the latest happenings at the Otago Museum, through posts about our collections, our people and our work.

Disclaimer

The views expressed here are those of our individual contributors, and are not the views of the Otago Museum.

Copyright

All content of this blog is Copyright Otago Museum, 2017. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the Otago Museum, except for the purposes of private study, research, criticism, review, or education, as provided for in the New Zealand Copyright Act 1994.