Who am I?

My name is Joseph Pooley.

I’m a born and bred Kiwi, having spent my upbringing around the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island.

I began my first career as a car mechanic in the mid 2000’s, but over a decade later, and after a couple of years living and travelling abroad, I returned to New Zealand having well and truly ignited my passion for photography (more specifically Landscape and Astrophotography).

In 2018, having spent a year or two in Auckland, still working in the motor industry but lusting for an opportunity to follow my dreams, I made a seemingly risky leap from the motor industry into tourism, after an opportunity arose which would turn my passion into a career.

I packed up my life once again and relocated to the Deep South, the beautiful Lake Tekapo, in the heart of Aoraki Mackenzie international dark sky reserve.

I spent a year and a half working as a professional Astrophotographer and training as an Astronomy tour guide with world-renown, commercial Stargazing operators formerly known as “Earth and Sky” (Now known as “Dark Sky Project”).

During this time I also decided to further my education, so I enrolled to study a photography diploma part-time. This would serve to authenticate the knowledge that had previously been largely self-taught, and help steer me further into the commercial photography sector.

Unfortunately the dreamy job came to an end sooner than expected, as the COVID-19 pandemic made its way around the world in 2020.

Borders closed and international tourism came to a sudden halt, seeing indefinite and even permanent closure of many businesses as well as thousands of redundancies of tourism workers across New Zealand, including myself.  

With much of the tourism industry still in hibernation for the foreseeable future, I decided to travel New Zealand with a group of friends & former colleagues for a few months of 2020, after being freed from the first nation-wide lockdown.

I eventually settled back in Lake Tekapo with the notion of starting up my own Astrotourism business. But what would be my point of difference? I needed a fresh idea in order to differentiate myself from the multitude of existing stargazing companies already established in the region.

I needed a simple, unique and viable business model.

After months of casually mulling over ideas with a few friends, it came to me at last, in a moment of clarity. The idea to offer mobile stargazing tours and Astrophotography tuition for small, exclusive groups of people, hosted from private accommodation sites within Lake Tekapo and the broader Mackenzie region! Perfect!

I floated the idea with a number of accommodation providers throughout the community and the idea seemed to be a hit! What’s more is that at the time it seemed this idea was also a relatively untapped niche.

It really seemed like an obvious activity to offer from the numerous “night sky” themed Airbnb cabins and villas popping up throughout the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve.

So, I sat down and developed a business plan, then purchased the best Telescope that my (at the time very little) money could buy, designed and printed some flyers and away I went, advertising and running exclusive Stargazing or Astrophotography tours for small groups or individuals in private accommodation throughout Lake Tekapo, Lake Pukaki, Twizel, Ohau & as far south as Lake Hawea.

I received an overwhelmingly positive response from my clients and great support from the community of accommodation and tourism providers in the region for going out on my own, against all odds and starting a viable tourism business in such an economically challenging time.

This gave me such a huge amount satisfaction and gratitude as everything that I had conceived had fallen into place nicely.

Less than a year down the track, other educational tours were added to my repertoire, such as Deep Sky Astrophotography lessons and Photo editing tuition.

I even managed raise enough money in the first 6 months of operation to upgrade my telescope to one double the size, further adding to the value of the Stargazing experience.

Now after nearly two years of operation, I am becoming increasingly busy as my tours become more in demand than ever!

It gives me a great deal of satisfaction being able to talk to people in small, intimate groups about astronomy or astrophotography, and guide their eyes around the night sky in an exclusive and relaxed environment, where the tour is purely at their convenience.

To me that feels like a pretty special experience.

The Telescope

During star gazing tours I use a Celestron 8” telescope. 

This telescope is a Schmidt-Cassegrain design, using a primary mirror 8 inches in diameter to achieve a focal length of 2032mm, allowing viewers to see a bright optical image of planets and deep sky objects magnified over 150 times.

The telescope is attached to a computerized (Altitude-Azimuth) Go-To mount. This amazing device allows the telescope to be automatically pointed toward any chosen object in the night sky with almost pinpoint accuracy.

The name Alpha CruX

The name of my business “Alpha CruX” refers to the brightest
star of the smallest and perhaps most iconic constellation to many nations of the southern hemisphere, the Southern Cross or “Crux” as it is known in Latin.

The Southern Cross has been used for many centuries by early
explorers of many different cultures, to precisely navigate the southern hemisphere.

This cross shaped asterism was (and still is) used in conjunction with Pointer stars, Alpha & Beta Centauri, or alternatively Achernar, to locate the point in the sky known as the South Celestial Pole.

This is the point in the sky represents the earth’s axis of spin and therefore rotates as the earth spins, however always remains in the same position in the sky. This point is then projected directly down toward the horizon, determining true

The Southern Cross features on the flag of many nations of
the southern hemisphere, including New Zealand, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Brazil.

Alpha Crux, the brightest star of the Southern Cross is also
referred to as Alpha Crucis or Acrux.

It is a triple star system at an approximate distance of 320
light-years from earth.

It appears to the naked eye as a single point of light however two of its component stars can be resolved with the use of binoculars or a small telescope.

It is the 13th brightest star in the night sky.