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Starry Heavens Newsletter
July 2017
Fall Season Announcement
The evening of Wednesday, August 9, 2017 is the kick-off for the fall season of planetarium shows at The Hōkūlani Imaginarium on the campus of Windward Community College. Attendees during the ensuing six months will have the opportunity to enjoy more than 33 showtimes on 20 dates through January 22, 2018. Shows range from live stargazing, rock music inspired light shows, Sesame Street animation, interactive space journeys, examinations of the culture and history of the formation of the Hawaiian Islands, to exploration of some of the warmest and brightest celebrations in the darkest and coldest time of the year, winter.

A full schedule of public show dates, times, and descriptions is available on the Center for Aerospace Education’s Imaginarium webpage. Reservations can be made by calling (808) 235-7433 between 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday; phone line is not available on weekends or holidays. Please note prices in each category are increasing by $1.00. 
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K-12 Education Opportunities
The core goal of the Center for Aerospace Education (CAE) is to ignite a lifelong love of science in students; this goal is realized through the large number of K-12 student groups that visit the CAE during the school year, in addition to the many keiki summer program groups who visit during the months of June and July. Teachers can arrange weekday private sessions for their classes in the Aerospace Exploration Lab and/or Imaginarium; a home lunch area is available as part of a visit as well. Bookings are generally arranged for Mondays thru Fridays from 9:00am to 12:00pm. Full school visit information can be found at this link; to book a school group please call (808) 235-7321.
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A worthy astronomical event worth noting in July - "Kau ka la i ka lolo" 
On July 15, at 12:38p.m., the sun will pass through the zenith as seen on Oahu. At this moment, shadows for vertical objects will disappear. This phenomenon which only occurs in the tropics is called "Kau ka la i ka lolo" in Hawaii - literally meaning: "The sun stands over the brain"

Another heavenly attraction might be to find Spica, the binary star???
Spica is the brightest light in the constellation Virgo the Maiden, and it is the 15th brightest star visible from anywhere on Earth. It’s virtually the same brightness as Antares in the constellation Scorpius, so sometimes Antares is listed as the 15th and Spica as the 16th brightest.

There are many names and stories for Spica’s constellation. One Arabic name was Azimech, derived from words meaning Defenseless or Solitary One. Perhaps this title may be in reference to Spica’s solitary status with no other bright stars nearby.

However, nothing could be further from the truth. Spica may look like one star, but it is at least two stars, both larger and hotter than our sun, orbiting only 18 million kilometers (11 million miles) apart. That’s in contrast to 150 million kilometers (93.3 million miles) for Earth’s distance from our sun. Their mutual gravity distorts each star into an egg shape, with the pointed ends facing each other as they whirl around, completing a single orbit in only four days.

Spica is also one of several bright stars that the moon can eclipse. Based on observations of how the star’s light is extinguished when the moon passes in front, some astronomers think that it may not just be a spectroscopic binary star. Instead, they feel that there may be as many as 3 other stars in the system. This would make Spica not a single or even a double, but a quintuple star!

The best time to view Spica is from spring to late summer when this star arcs across the southern sky. Spica rises in the east-southeast as the sunset glow fades in mid-April. At that time, it is visible most of the night. Around mid-June it beams at its highest point to the south in early evening. By the end of August, Spica can be viewed only briefly in the west-southwestern sky as darkness falls.

To find Spica, look for the Big Dipper in the northern sky. The Big Dipper is highest in the sky in spring and summer. The handle of the Big Dipper curves outward, away from the bowl of the Dipper itself. The first bright star you come to is orange Arcturus, but if you continue past it in the curving path, the next bright star is Spica. Scouts and stargazers remember this trick with the saying: Follow the arc to Arcturus, and speed on to Spica.

For those of you who like to know the history/mythology of constellations and stars, Spica is from the Latin word for “ear,” and is generally thought to refer to an “ear of wheat.” The star and the constellation Virgo itself were sometimes associated with Ceres, the Greek goddess of the harvest or her daughter Persephone. In Greece and Rome Virgo was known as Astraea, the personification of Justice. In Egypt she was identified with Isis and the star Spica was considered Isis’s lute bearer. In ancient China, Spica was considered a special star known as The Horn. Indeed, Spica is a special star or two or three or four or more.

Reservations Suggested
Due to limited seating of 84 attendees in the Imaginarium, we recommend making reservations for our programs. Call (808) 235-7433 between 8:30am - 3:30pm, Monday - Friday. Reservation phone line is not available on weekends or holidays.

Our new admission prices beginning August 2017 are:
  • $8 General admission
  • $7 WCC students, military, seniors (65 years or older), with ID
  • $6 Children (ages 4-12 years)
  • Free for children under 4 years of age (1 per paying adult), and WCC faculty or staff with university ID
CASH & CHECK ONLY.  An ATM is located on campus behind the Imaginarium building, next to The Hub coffee shop.

Please pick up and pay for reserved tickets at the Imaginarium Box Office at least 15 minutes prior to showtime. Unclaimed tickets may be sold to waiting customers on a first come, first served basis.
Please visit and LIKE our WCC Imaginarium Facebook Page.

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As always, we welcome your feedback or questions, feel free to phone (808) 235-7350 or email to If you would like information regarding our Adopt-a-Show sponsorship program please click here.
Dineene O'Connor
Manager, Hōkūlani Imaginarium
Windward Community College
Hale Imiloa 135A
Office (808) 235-7350

Wednesday, August 9
Earth, Moon and Sun
Saturday, August 12
Dawn of the Space Age
Saturday, August 12
2:00 pm

The Cowboy Astronomer
Friday, August 25
Pink Floyd-Dark Side of the Moon
Friday, August 25
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