On Friday, 7 September, when North Canterbury skies will be their darkest under a new moon, the Oxford Observatory at Oxford Area School will host a public open night to view our closest celestial neighbours.
Between 7pm and 10pm, anyone can view four planets up close. On 31 July, Mars came its closest to earth since 2003, a mere 1.4 million kilometres away. People will be able to see it in detail, along with a bright crescent Venus, Jupiter and its moons, and Saturn’s unique rings. Our galaxy, the Milky Way, won’t seem so far away through the Meade 250mm Schmidt Cassegrain telescope, the school became the proud owner of in 2000, with a Lion Foundation grant.
“We took this opportunity to build an observatory at the school, which was completed in 2006, after Mars was the closest to Earth in 60,000 years in 2003,” says James Moffat, a passionate astronomer for 18 years. “There was a huge response from community.”
He was assisted by the school’s former physics teacher Eric Vermatt and the late Clive Rowe. Clive was a well-respected, notable star in the astronomical community, who had the dome modelled from a fibreglass mould that replicated Dunedin Observatory.
Aside from hosting educational school groups, interested parties of up to 20 people can arrange a night of close encounters, for a nominal cost.
Booking is not required for the open night, just a $2 donation. In case of cloudy conditions, Oxford Observatory’s Facebook page will advise beforehand or contact James on 022 364 1959.
Deliciously warm autumn colours at Marmalade Clothing and Curiosities are a reflection of Oxford’s misty mornings, harvest time, vast open landscapes and woodland walks. The hues of heather, moss, lichen, copper, cranberry, blackberry and indigo all feature strongly amongst the natural fibres.
Marmalade is well known for catering to lovers of Tencel, modal, bamboo and viscose. “This season the classic velvet coats and organic cotton dresses from Fairtrade favourite Nomads Clothing are back – and cosy knitwear and New Zealand merino will keep you warm and toasty!” says owner Jessica Fearnley-Campbell.
“As well as stocking the famous breathable bamboo socks from UK Fairtrade brand ‘Thought’, we now carry its full range of lounge wear – perfect for relaxing, yoga or the busy mum. This collection means you never have to compromise style over comfort again!”
Marmalade also continues to extend its range of Fairtrade and sustainable accessories and giftware to complement the gorgeous clothing. New this autumn are packs of reusable metal straws from CaliWoods NZ, and felted Easter decorations from Namaste – which supports child rescue in Nepal. Meanwhile magical Fairtrade fairies, pirates, unicorns and mermaids are this month’s latest edition to arrive from UK company ‘Believe You Can’.
Oxford’s annual A&P Show on 31 March is the perfect opportunity to make the cruisy 40-minute drive to this enchanting North Canterbury town this Easter. Perhaps try out the new authentic curry house, or pop into the retro 50’s diner – but definitely include a visit to Jessica’s beautiful, inspiring boutique.
Marmalade Clothing and Curiosities, 49A Main Street, Oxford or visit