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Starry Heavens Newsletter
August 2017
What’s the buzz, tell me what’s happening– 
 Project Imua Launch and a Total Solar Eclipse

 On August  12, Windward Community College engineering students along with teammates from Honolulu and Kauai Community Colleges will launch their third scientific payload from NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Established in 2014, Project Imua is an enterprise of UHCC campuses under Hawaii Space Grant Consortium formed to design, assemble, test and launch small payloads for space flight. WCC’s Imaginarium Director Dr. Joseph Ciotti serves as  Project Imua’s Manager. Checkout this link for a 360-degree virtual reality image of this year’s payload.                                                                         

The Great American Solar Eclipse 
On Aug. 21, 2017, people across the mainland United States will see the sun disappear behind the moon, turning daylight into twilight, causing the temperature to drop rapidly and revealing massive streamers of light streaking through the sky around the silhouette of the moon. On that day, a diagonal swath of America will fall under the path of a total solar eclipse. For the rest of the country, including Hawaii the sun will be partially eclipsed. On O'ahu the eclipse will begin at sunrise 6:11 am with a crescent sun breaking over the eastern horizon. By 6:36 am the partial eclipse will be at its maximum with the sun hovering about 5 degrees above the horizon. The eclipse in Hawaii ends at 7:25 am. (See the diagram below).

Relatively few people on earth will see the total solar eclipse because the tip of the moon's shadow (called the umbra) that falls upon the Earth is not large enough to cover the entire planet, so only those people directly in this shadow (path of totality) will see a total solar eclipse.  The "path of totality” may be only a few hundred miles wide and may stretch for several thousand miles. This narrow band represents a very small portion of Earth’s total surface. Therefore, very few people are likely to see a total solar eclipse.

The so-called Great American Total Solar Eclipse will darken skies all the way from Oregon to South Carolina, along a stretch of land about 70 miles (113 kilometers) wide. People who descend upon this "path of totality" for the big event are in for an unforgettable experience.

If you will be lucky enough to see this event REMEMBER: Looking directly at the sun, even when it is partially covered by the moon, can cause serious eye damage or blindness. NEVER look at a partial solar eclipse without proper eye protection. Check this link to find out how to view the eclipse safely.
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court?
It may seem silly but whenever there is a solar eclipse, I remember reading: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, an 1889 novel by American humorist and writer, Mark Twain who takes much poetic license with his dates in this story.
In the beginning of the story Twain meets a stranger while touring Warwick Castle in England. This stranger gives him a manuscript of his memoirs. The memoirs tell the tale of  Hank Morgan, a Connecticut factory superintendent who after a hit on the head finds himself in Camelot. 

Upon entering King Arthur's court he meets a young paige  who befriends him. When Hank questions the paige about where he is,he finds that he is in Camelot in the year 528. Hank, being a knowledgeable guy, figures he can confirm the date by waiting for a solar eclipse that is supposed to occur on the 21st of June, two days hence. However, Hank is considered a dangerous ogre and is sentenced to die at the stake.
Hank knowing about the solar eclipse proclaims that he is a great magician who will blot out the sun in two days if he is not released. The King, thus decides to execute him a day earlier than planned. As Hank is taken to the stake he thinks that it is only June twentieth and that his bluff has backfired. Luckily Hank's calculations are off by a day. When the sun begins to blacken under the shadow of the eclipse, Hank jumps on the opportunity and all-knowingly claims that he is responsible for the calamity. The crowd and court panic, agreeing to make Hank the king's executor in exchange for the sun. The moral - you never know when your knowledge of science may save your life.

Catch a Falling Star and put it in your pocket - Everyone likes falling stars. They even write songs about them. But what are falling stars? A falling star or shooting star has nothing to do with a star. They are caused by bits of dust and rock called meteoroids that burn up when they fall into Earth’s atmosphere. The short-lived burst of light from the burning meteoroid is called a meteor. Meteors are seen at certain times of the year when Earth passes through the trail of debris left by a comet as it orbits the Sun and are called meteor showers. Meteor showers are given names based on the constellation present in the sky where they appear to originate, also called the “radiant”. For example, the Leonids appear to originate in the constellation Leo. However, meteoroids and meteor showers do not originate from constellations – they seem to come from that part of sky because the Earth is moving through that part of the sky and encounters these meteoroids as it moves through the path of the comet’s orbit. Astronomers give the meteoroids the names of constellations because it helps them know where to look in the sky for these special happenings. And if you like to look for shooting stars the Perseids are active from mid July to the end of August but peak in mid-August. Their peak night will be August 11-12. The Perseids are particles released from the Swift-Tuttle comet during its numerous returns to the inner solar system. They are called Perseids since they are located near the constellation Perseus.

 “Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket, save it for a rainy day” – gee, Now I can’t get that song out of my head. 

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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