Finding Matariki: How to spot the iconic star cluster

Source: 1News

Wake up early enough this week and you should be able to spot Matariki.

Aotearoa officially celebrates the public holiday on Friday, June 24.

The star cluster is set to rise for the first time in this year's midwinter sky on June 21, but it's also possible that some people may have already spotted it.

The rising of the cluster signifies the start of the Māori New Year, Te Mātahi o te Tau.

If conditions are right, and you're up before the sun rises, Matariki can be seen every morning for around eight days around this time.

How to find Matariki

An image identifying the Matariki cluster

The easiest way to find Matariki is to use other identifiable star groups as markers.

Before sunrise, look to the Southern Cross, or Te Punga. From there, look east and you can see the constellation Tautoru, or Orion's Belt - often referred to as The Pot.

Next, trace a line northwards from the three stars of Tautoru to a triangular-shaped cluster of stars and you will have found Hyades, or Te Kokotā.

Look towards the left again, and just off the shoulder of Te Kokotā is Matariki.

Matariki can also be seen during the summer months in the same location after the sun has set.

Above Tautoru is another star called Puanga. This star is also significant to some iwi as a sign of the Māori New Year.