A tryst with the stars


Pakuranga College student Zairab Karkaria is selected to attend an all-expense paid Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand Annual Conference in Christchurch. Photo supplied

Pakuranga College student Zariab Karkaria has won all-expenses paid place at the Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand’s annual conference to be held in Christchurch from May 4-6.

The society, founded in 1920, has been promoting the opportunity to high school students throughout the country.

Zariab had to write an essay detailing his passion for the science and why he wanted to attend in order to win one of the 10 spots.

“I heard about the annual conference from our earth and space science teacher, who mentioned it in class and I was quick to grab that opportunity,” says Zariab.

The conference will have a mix of amateur astrologers with a strong core group of experts, mainly made up of university professionals.

Talking about his tryst with the stars he says, “What sparked my interest in astronomy was the first time I looked through a telescope at the age of seven.

“I stood on the balcony and spent the night gazing at the moon, with all its craters and hills that we can’t see with the naked eye- along with other stars and the nearby Mars—I was hooked onto it.

“My first visit to a planetarium was a spectacular experience. “I’ll never forget observing the gas giant Jupiter and its iconic big red spot and orbiting moons.

“It was fascinating to observe the beautiful Saturn and its rings and Neptune’s frozen surface.”

He compares astronomy to a black hole that he got sucked into.

“The more curious you are, the more you are drawn into it. With so many unanswered questions, there’s no going back. That’s what makes astronomy so special.”

Astronomers from throughout New Zealand and overseas will be at the conference.

“I have never attended a conference like this before and I really look forward to it, especially meeting fellow astronomy enthusiasts and experts at the conference,” Zariab says.