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Mrs WaveSoarer and I are just back from a wonderful couple of weeks in New Zealand and we're trying to overcome the jetlag after a long trip home. I took my binoculars with me and, despite almost breaking them at Heathrow (a close shave involving me having to screw them back together again after dropping them) they turned out to be incredibly useful. We arrived just before new moon and it was a couple of nights later that we had a reasonably clear sky. I nipped out with my bins when I could see a few stars between gaps in the cloud through the window of our accommodation and I was almost blown away by my fist naked eye view of the sky. The south island has a small population and so the sky has almost no light pollution. The transparency is also extremely good. Orion was extremely impressive (though upside down) and quite high up - much higher than we get the chance to see it. There were far more stars visible with the naked eye, due to the incredible darkness of the sky, and M42 was stunning in binoculars and so much more of it was visible. On that first clear night I was totally awstruck by my first sighting of the large and small megallanic clouds. I was expecting them to be as faint as the milky way is here but when I moved round to the other side of our chalet to avoid the obstruction of the roof, there they were in all their blazing glory. Incredibly obvious and just jaw-dropping. They are fairly faint on the grand scheme of things but as they sky is so dark they just stand out so well. In binoculars they yield a huge amount of detail and it's almost like looking at a photograph. In the large megallanic cloud the main limb is very bright and mottled, and just around its elbow the Tarantula nebula (NGC 2070) really shines out very brightly. Even away from the main limb there was a lot of fairly obvious nebulolsity and the whole object took on the apperance of the symbol of the Freemsons - or at least that's how it looked to me. I was simply stunned at what could be seen even with my small 10 x 50s. The small Magellanic cloud was also a treat and this was very obviously mottled with clumps of brightness at the open clusters NGC 371 and NGC 346. I almost dropped my binoculars again when I saw a very large and bright globular cluster just below and to the right (as I saw it) of the small Magellanic cloud. It was as good a view as I normally get at low power of M13 through my telescope. I was just stunned, again. A later look at Stellarium on Mrs WaveSoarer's Samsung smartphone showed that this was 47 Tuc - quite amazing really. I also later identified the globular cluster C104 which also lies close to the small Magellanic cloud but doesn't quite have the blow your socks off look about it. This object certainly needed binoculars, unlike 47 Tuc which is a very obvious naked eye object. It was wonderful just to take the time to slowly scan around the sky and the region around the Southern Pleiades, IC 2602, was so rich with objects and so filled with stars that it could almost make you all dewy eyed with the beauty of it all. I was going to try to take some notes of the objects I saw there but it would have taken too long and I just wanted to soak up the view without spoiling my night vision trying to look things up on Stellarium. I also, of course, had a look at the Southern cross and even it yielded some nice small clusters. For me the most obvious was K Cru, which is a nice compact little cluster. Later on we went to the Mount John University of Canterbury Observatory, where we were given our own personal tour by Jason (sorry didn't get his surname) who showed us the various telescopes - even the smallest we were shown (a Meade LX 200) would make anyone jealous. The large 1.8 metre is currently mainly being used to search for extrasolar planets within the Magellanic clouds. As we were visiting when the moon was almost full then it wasn't worth while going on one of the organised night tours as they were only observing bright objects such as Jupiter. I've attached a couple of photos from the tour. One of the photos is of the 1.8 m telescope. As the primary doesn't have a central hole, the instrumentation (CCD camera etc) is at the position where we'd normaly expect the secondary mirror to be. The second photo is of the impressive 24 inch telescope, which is the largest telescope at the observatory that can be used for visual work. I've also attached a photo showing the domes for the 1.8 m and 24 inch telescopes with some very nice wave clouds in the distance. Sadly I didn't manage to soar in these the day before though I did get some decent thermal soaring. We had a great trip and the scenery of the south island is amazing. We'll definately be going again.