Summer is here so be sure to visit us at the Imaginarium
Kicking off our summer schedule will be Imaginarium favorites Ancient Skies and Stars of the Pharaohs. Hidden within some of mankind’s oldest monuments lay the foundations of modern science in the records of Earth’s ancient skies. Ancient Skies explores the possibilities that the construction of these monuments were intimately connected to celestial cycles. Stars of the Pharaohs journies back 6,000 years to the land of ancient Egypt to view the stars in its desert skies. The Imaginarium’s multi-media show reenacts the mythological creation of the Egyptian universe and discusses the celestial connections of the many pyramids that stand sentinel to its ancient history.
Dineene OConnor, standing in for Krissie Kellogg, will host Stargazing June 8, where the audience will find their way to Tahiti and discover some of the astronomical delights “down under” before returning to Hawaii to end with the adventures of our favorite Hawaiian trickster, Maui.
We wind up the month with the Imaginarium’s family favorites, Earth Moon and Sun and Astronaut. Find out what it takes to be an astronaut! Explore inner and outer space as you experience a rocket launch from an astronaut's point of view and float around the International Space Station in microgravity. Earth, Moon and Sun explores the relationship between the Earth, Moon and Sun with the help of Coyote, an amusing character adapted from Native American oral traditions, who has a razor-sharp wit, but is a bit confused about what he sees in the sky.
Second half of June: Five planets align
(Image credit: SkySafari
All five naked-eye planets will be visible simultaneously, arrayed in a line that will span the eastern and southeastern morning twilight sky during the last two weeks of June. What is even more amazing is that they will all be aligned in their correct order out from the sun: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.
The moon, waning from a gibbous to a slender crescent phase, will pay a visit to each planet on specific mornings: Saturn on June 17; Jupiter on June 21; Mars on June 22; Venus on June 26 and finally Mercury on June 27.
It will be possible to see Mercury and the Moon on June 27, but it will be easier to see Mercury at 5:45 a.m. June 19, as Mercury will be at its highest altitude of 18o above the horizon.
CELEBRATE THE PLANETS WITH THE RECENTLY PREMIERED PIANO CONCERTO
BY: DIANA HANNIKAINEN
PIANIST JEFFREY BIEGEL AND COMPOSER DANIEL PERTTU
Move over, Gustav Holst. There’s a new Planets in town. And this one is based on astronomy, not astrology. Holst’s seven-movement orchestral suite The Planets premiered in London in 1918. Now, a little more than a century later, a modern version on the theme saw first light on Sunday May 22, 2022. But while Holst turned to astrology for inspiration, composer Daniel Perttu turned to astronomy.
Pianist Jeffrey Biegel’s longtime dream was to bring to life an updated version of Holst’s The Planets, infusing the music with current scientific understanding. Biegel was born deaf, and until the age of three, when corrective surgery allowed him to hear for the first time, his world was very closed. He relied on other means of expression and communication, and so music became his first language. As a result, his projects often have an “out of the box” element. Biegel’s vision of a revamped Planets features the pianist as a space traveler journeying through the solar system.
PIANIST AS COSMIC TRAVELER
Perttu picked a few characteristics of each planet for inspiration and transformed those into sonic visions. For example, Mercury, subject of the first variation, is the innermost and smallest of the solar system’s planets and experiences extremes in temperature. It also has virtually no atmosphere. So Perttu drew on those characteristics to produce a variation that conveys the imagery of a “stark, extreme kind of place.”
is an airless world, its surface pockmarked by craters, ridges, and lava plains — scars indicating a violent past. The planet's craters are named after artists, authors, and musicians; in fact, Holst has his own 170-kilometer-wide crater, pictured here!
NASA / Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory / Carnegie Institution of Washington
Venus is the brightest object in the night sky, apart from the Moon and the Sun. Its atmosphere is largely roiling clouds of carbon dioxide. At the planet’s surface, where temperatures reach a whopping 470°C (870°F), the pressure is some 90 times that of Earth’s. At some point in its early, cooler history, Venus may have had a shallow liquid-water ocean and may have harbored life, but that’s all long gone by now. The prospect of potential, current, or past life is always thrilling, and that’s the angle that sonically describes Venus in this variation.
Rounding out the rocky planets, Mars continues to capture our imagination, with its dusty red surface and the solar system’s biggest volcano. Perttu nevertheless reads a sadness in Mars’s story. A planet that once may have had a lush environment with liquid water on its surface — and perhaps life — is today instead a cold and arid world.
When we get to the gas giants, Perttu introduces a sense of airiness to the music. First comes majestic Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system, rich in hydrogen and helium. It’s famous for its Great Red Spot, which is, in fact, one humongous storm that has raged for more than 300 years. The Great Red Spot and other storms on Jupiter are also sites of lightning! In fact, Perttu describes this passage as “swirly, blustery, and sometimes tempestuous.”
Ask most any astronomer what drew them to the subject, and the answer — more often than not — is their first view of Saturn through a telescope. The sight of the ethereal planet with its system of rings is inspiring at every level. But to add to the planet’s attraction, we now know that its atmosphere contains diamonds. And not only that, but that the diamonds might fall as rain! Hence, Saturn’s variation is “slower but shimmery in its sensibility.”
William Herschel discovered Uranus in 1781. The ice giant’s atmosphere is largely hydrogen and helium, with traces of methane that give the planet its eerie, greenish hue (by absorbing the red wavelengths of light). Uranus is a planet with a quirk: A cataclysmic interaction with another body in the early solar system tipped it over on its side with respect to its orbital plane, so instead of orbiting the Sun like the other planets, it rolls along in its orbit. Because of this, Perttu has inverted the main theme in the variation, as well as infusing it with a dark, dismal sentiment.
Perttu composed the eighth variation to reflect a sense of windiness since the last of our planets, Neptune, is the windiest of them all. The blue ice giant, the most distant of all planets (more than 30 times the Earth-Sun distance), is dark and cold, and supersonic winds rage through its atmosphere at speeds greater than 2,000 km/h (1,200 mph). For comparison, the fastest winds recorded on Earth clock in at around 400 km/h.
And in a neat final touch, we end our odyssey all the way out in the Kuiper Belt
. Of course, when Holst composed The Planets
, Pluto and other distant solar system objects hadn’t yet been discovered. But in a fitting coda to A Planets Odyssey
, Perttu brings us to the very outer edges of our solar system.
AND NOW THE MUSIC
Click on the link above and scroll down to music selection.
More to see in our June Sky
Check out our Celestial Events calendar for more. http://aerospace.wcc.hawaii.edu/AstroCalendar/Celestial%20Events%20for%20current%20year.pdf
- June 6, 5:47a.m. Earliest time sunrise ever occurs in Hawaii
- June 14, Full Strawberry Moon is a super Moon as the Moon is at perigee closest to Earth
- June 14, Perigean King Tides (2.63ft) 4:42p.m.
- June 20, 11:13p.m.Summer Solstice 13hours, 28 minutes and 17 seconds of daylight