Starry Heavens Newsletter
Hau’oli Makahiki Hou! We have a full newsletter this month so I’ll get right to it:
First, upcoming celestial events for 2015 have already been posted on our website. Mahalo to Dr. Joseph Ciotti, Center for Aerospace Education Director at WCC, for compiling this comprehensive list that includes meteor showers, lunar, planetary and seasonal information, as well as other astronomical information for this calendar year. Go to our Sky Information for 2015
For more detailed information, come to the Imaginarium on the second Wednesday of each month for our Stargazing program with Krissie Kellogg. Get to know the constellations and accompanying folklore up close and personal, and remember, you never have to worry about a cloudy night under our planetarium skies!
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The next item on our agenda is the upcoming season of Imaginarium programs. Our schedule has been posted on our website,
and we have a busy six months ahead of us. Beginning in February, we will be offering more programs, including Saturday matinees
for families. The additional show times lets us to bring you more variety in our astronomy programming, and gives you the opportunity to catch programs you may have missed in the past.
February also brings an encore presentation of the successful Valentine’s Day program, "Star Crossed Lovers" that we debuted last year—an adult version of stellar stories for that special night. Join us for wine, flowers and a uniquely romantic evening of uncensored mythology! Reservations are required since seating is limited.
For the younger audiences, we will open a new show
in February as well. Watch for more on this and other programs in next month’s newsletter!
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An exciting addition at our Center is a new sundial mounted on the makai side of the Imaginarium (see image below). Designed by Dr. Ciotti, and crafted in England, the 32-inch diameter sundial consists of nine bronze rings, including the horizon, meridian, equator, Tropics of Capricorn and Cancer, and the Arctic and Antarctic Circles.
The sundial is named Ke Ao o Ka Lā,
Hawaiian for "The Realm of the Sun" — and is designed with Polynesian navigation references. Directional information, augmented by master navigator Nainoa Thompson, includes the central plaque graphically illustrating the Equation of Time that corrects for the seasonal difference between apparent solar time and Hawaiian Standard Time. Part of the sundial's design includes a Polynesian double-hull voyaging canoe mounted near the sundial’s apex; its navigator is shown employing the ancient wayfinding skills such as sighting on the Sun, stars and birds.
At the north end of the gnomon
(the sundial’s shadow rod, used for telling time) is a long-winged, forked-tailed frigate bird, known as the iwa, which symbolically guides this ancestral canoe to Hawai’i. At the south end of the gnomon a silhouette of the demigod Māui snares the Sun. This legendary feat is encapsulated by the poem inscribed around the main ring of the sundial, telling the Polynesian story of why the days of summer are longer than those of winter:
Māui snared ka lā the sun to slow its daily passage.
For days they fought, till compromise was sought.
Now summer days are long, while winter sun still dashes.
Watch for more information on the sundial on our website-- in the meantime it’s definitely worth a daytime trip to the Imaginarium to see this beautiful piece which blends science, culture, and art.
For those accustomed to our "two Friday night, two Wednesday night" programs per month, please note that there are changes beginning in February.
While Krissie Kellogg's Stargazing show will NOT move from its regular second Wednesday of every month, we will alter the rest of the schedule to offer more convenient times for you. The new schedule for February - June 2015
is now available on our website
Below is the schedule for the month of January 2015:
Friday, Jan. 9 – 7:00PM
Maunakea: Between Earth & Sky
Wednesday, Jan. 14 – 7:00PM
(Live program in the Imaginarium with Krissie Kellogg.)
Friday, Jan. 23 – 7:00PM
Magic Tree House Space Mission
Wednesday, Jan. 28 – 7:00PM
Sounds of the Underground
Call (808) 235-7433 for reservations.
You can find more details regarding these programs on our website
, or call the Imaginarium office at (808) 235-7350.
We recommend reservations for all our shows and credit cards are not accepted at the box office. However, the campus recently received an ATM machine, located in the building just behind the Imaginarium, next to The Hub coffee shop. You may also follow Imaginarium news via our Facebook posts
At the end of each year you see many variations of "The Year's Best...." in print, electronic media, or as internet features, covering everything from sports, entertainment and of course science. With so many other "Best of" lists out there, I'm not going to add another, but I do want to express my enthusiasm for one of my favorite astronomy stories of the year (actually the past decade).
On December 6, 2014, NASA "woke up" the New Horizons spacecraft from its latest hibernation period, 3 billion miles away from Earth, as it heads toward its encounter with Pluto in July 2015. Launched in January 2006, New Horizons is the fastest spacecraft ever sent into space. Nine years later, traveling at 30,000 mph, its primary target is still 162 million miles away. Hibernation periods for these long missions are necessary to conserve power and reduce wear on the components, and all of New Horizons' systems are currently ready for its pre-encounter operations.
Pluto orbits at the far reaches of our solar system where the Sun appears as a small but bright object through its tenuous atmosphere. Although astronomers suspected the existence of the tiny body by the turn of the 20th century, it wasn't actually found until 1930 (it is only two-thirds the diameter of our Moon), when Clyde Tombaugh became the first American astronomer to discover a planet.
Pluto maintained the title of being the ninth planet until 2006, when the International Astronomical Union (IAU) redefined the criteria for categorizing planets and designated Pluto and other similar bodies as "dwarf planets." This opened up lively debates between high profile scientists as well as public outcry for the smallest planet that most of us grew up with in our "solar family."
But I'm not going to take sides. The fact is, we are now exploring this relatively little-known object in the lonely outskirts of space and advancing our knowledge of our planetary system. Look at any space poster on an elementary school classroom wall and you can see there are a lot of details on every planet in our solar system -- except Pluto. Usually photographed as a small spot, or a pixilated blob, Pluto has never been mapped or explored in such detail before, and this mission will undoubtedly require updating classroom posters!
New Horizons has other science priorities. Even though Pluto's surface temperature is about minus 400 degrees Fahrenheit, its interior may hold enough heat, due to radioactive decay, to maintain liquid water beneath its surface. Pluto may also possess organic compounds similar those found in to comets. Beyond the geology and morphology data, the New Horizons mission will add to the knowledge of the Kuiper Belt, the region of our solar system beyond Neptune where icy objects like comets reside. The mission will extend beyond Pluto, and its companion Charon, and go further into the Kuiper Belt in the future.
There are many interesting facts and information on the New Horizons website
, however the reason this mission is specifically meaningful to me is sentimental. I remember telling school kids 10 years ago to think about how old they would be when this spacecraft reached Pluto. Most kids who were in elementary or middle school back then are now either in high school or college! My amazement of those years, measured by the milestones of children, is only exceeded by that of the distance covered by this spacecraft over this period.
In addition, many people, including myself, submitted their names to NASA in 2005 to be flown on the spacecraft. That list, of about 435,000 names, is now on the verge of reaching its destination, some 32 times the Earth-Sun distance. If only I could have accumulated frequent flyer mileage!
Due to limited seating, we recommend making reservations for our programs.
Call (808) 235-7433 between 8am-4pm, Monday-Friday.
(Reservation phone line is not available on weekends.)
Please note: Credit and debit cards are not accepted at the box office.
Please arrive at the Imaginarium at least 30 minutes before showtime. Reserved tickets must be picked up at the Imaginarium box office at least 15 minutes
prior to start of program. Unclaimed tickets are released for sale to walk-in customers on a first come, first served basis.
Wishing you a safe and productive New Year,
Carolyn Kaichi, Imaginarium Manager