Check out the upcoming events and news from the Hokulani Imaginarium!

Starry Heavens Newsletter
October 2020

Aloha Kakou
Thank you to everyone who continues to read the newsletter and check out our website. We are continuing to develop some new tools to add to our website that  include online video demonstrations and brief discussions of the science toys in the Aerospace Exploration Lab, constellation star stories, stargazing podcasts and Hokulani Night Sky videos. 

Go to our home page and click on Hokulani Online Resources.  You will see  on the left a drop down menu of Hokulani At Home,  Hands on Science , Stargazing Podcast, Virtual Tours and Star Stories. A new tab has been added: Special Features, which includes the "Expedition: Earth" video from Swinburne featured for the first time in this newsletter, as well as the "To Space and Back" video provided by Sky-Skan Inc.

Hokulani at Home includes additional videos that describe how to Navigate the Virtual Sky as well as astronomical events. This month several videos have been uploaded that speak to  Planets to see at Night and How to find the North Star.  The Hands on Science tab includes videos that speak to the science of the low technology toys and gadgets found in the Aerospace Exploration Lab such as a demonstration of the four forces in flight, the scientific laws and theories demonstrated in Newton's Cradle and a brief discussion of the scientific method.  The Stargazing Podcast features our ever popular naked eye astronomer Krissie Kellogg who weaves the science of the sky with the mythology of the constellations. The Virtual Tours tab is a work in progress that will reveal many photos and brief descriptions of the models that are present in the lab as well as other locations of the CAE. Our first  Star Story focusing on the "Summer Triangle" and the Chinese Qixi festival should be uploaded in the middle of the month In succeeding months we will add the  star stories of Ka Manaikalani and Pimoe as well as Ka Lupe O Kawelo.
Through a special agreement with Swinburne Astronomy Productions (Swinburne University, Melbourne, Australia), we are happy to share with you the short film "Expedition: Earth".   In this movie, we follow astronomers' search for other life in the galaxy, by looking for other planets like Earth with the help of the Kepler Space Telescope.
You can watch "Expedition: Earth" on the Featured Movies page of our Hokulani Online Resources website (link), or browse other short films by Swinburne Astronomy Productions on their YouTube channel, here (link).

We hope everyone remains well as we continue to plan how to open responsibly to stem the transmission of COVID-19. We miss being able to see you face to face and look forward to the time when we will. As soon as we know when we can resume more normal operations, we will post them on the website so stay tuned.

Mars brighter than Sirius?
You're not serious? Yes we are! On October 13, Mars will be in opposition to the Sun and will be shinning at a magnitude of -2.6, a full  three times brighter than Sirius and even brighter than mighty Jupiter. Through October 28, Mars will be the second brightest planet in the sky next to Venus making the Moon, Venus and Mars the three brightest heavenly bodies in the nighttime sky. Mars will also be closer to Earth, a mere 38.57 million miles away. It will not be this close to Earth again until 2035.

Witch Head nebula named for its shape is an extremely faint reflection nebula believed to be an ancient supernova remnant or gas cloud illuminated by nearby supergiant star Rigel in the constellation of Orion. It lies in the Orion constellation, about 900 light-years from Earth. The nature of the very blue dust particles is caused not only by the blue color of its star, but also because the dust grains reflect blue light more efficiently.

A Mini Full Moon for Halloween
Don't you just love it when there is a full moon on Halloween? This year the full Moon on October 31 is a "blue moon" and a "micro full moon". Since the full moon on October 31 is the second full moon in the month of October, it is referred to as a blue moon. The first full moon on October 2 is also known as the Harvest Moon, which is the first full moon following the fall Equinox that occurred September 22. The full moon that occurs October 31 will be the Hunter's Moon. Two moons in one month generally occur every 30 months. The next calendrical blue moon will be August 30, 2023.

The full Moon on October 31 is also known as a Micromoon, Minimoon or Apogee Moon since it occurs at apogee, when the Moon in its orbit is farthest from the Earth. The Moon orbits Earth in an elliptical path, thus one side of the path is closer to the Earth than the other. The point in the Moon's orbit closest to Earth is called perigee , while the point in the orbit farthest from Earth is known as apogee.

Old "Big Eyes"Nāmakanui, has some big shoes to fill.
An international team of scientists using the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JMCT), on Hawaii island has discovered the potential for life on Venus. The JCMT instrument used to capture the discovery of phosphine on Venus has  been retired; it was replaced by a temporary and more powerful instrument known as Namakanui. The Hawaiian name “Nāmakanui” means “Big-Eyes” and it refers to a type of fish found in and around the islands.

The discovery of the rare gaseous compound known as phosphine in the clouds of Venus is described in a paper published in the journal Nature Astronomy. The lead author is Jane Greaves, a former Mauna Kea astronomer who is now a professor at Cardiff University in Wales.

The detection of phosphine in Venus’ atmosphere could well point to extraterrestrial “aerial” life, according to the paper. On Earth this gas of hydrogen and phosphorus is produced naturally only by microbes that exist in oxygen-free environments.

The first detection of phosphine in the clouds of Venus occurred using the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope, the radio telescope where Greaves worked in the 1990s.

The JCMT is the largest single-dish astronomical telescope in the world designed specifically to operate in the submillimeter wavelength region of the electromagnetic spectrum and was one of the observatories used by scientists who last year unveiled the first image of a black hole, whose name, Powehi, comes from the Kimulipo Hawaiian creation narrative.

After finding phosphine on Venus in Hawaii, the team of scientists reaffirmed the discovery using the 45 telescopes of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in Chile.

In the end both facilities saw the same thing: faint absorption at the right wavelength to be phosphine gas, where the molecules are backlit by the warmer clouds below.

Astronomers have speculated for years that high clouds on Venus might offer a home for microbes floating far enough away from the super-hot surface of the planet to obtain water and sunlight but also needing to tolerate extremely high acidity.

Jessica Dempsey, JCMT's deputy director, thought Greaves was crazy when she asked for the telescope time to search for the phospine, which at the time seemed highly unlikely.

“It was so crazy that you could only do what they wanted to do at two or three telescopes on the entire planet, and the others said no,” Dempsey said.

But Greaves, a former Mauna Kea astronomer, was Ohana,  so the JCMT telescope was pointed at Venus for five days in 2017 to see what they could find. The find is a major accomplishment and once again, Hawaii proved an important asset to that finding.

Hawaii's eyes on the sky have been doing a lot of finding in the last few years and what they have found has been recorded in journals and data bases with appropriate Hawaiian names. When people hear "Hawaii" it often conjures up images of surfers, hula dancers, volcanoes, beautiful beaches etc. More recently Hawaii is expanding their reputation not just as an island paradise but a location of astronomical discovery that honors the ancient Hawaiian knowledge and traditions as stargazers and wayfinders and provides yet another career option and path of discovery for our keiki.

Poniua'ena , Pōwehi, Oumuamua

These are a few of the recent astronomical discoveries that have Hawaiian names:

  • Poniua'ena - ancient, perhaps most ancient discovery ever made of a quasar
  • Pōwehi - the black hole that scientists released an image of in 2019
  • 'Oumuamua - first interstellar asteroid to be discovered to be given a Hawaiian name meaning "scout" or "the one who looks first"
  • Leleakuhonua - a dwarf planet beyond Pluto discovered in 2020
  • Kamo'oalewa- an asteroid whose name comes from the Kimulipo and means celestial object oscillating to reflect its path in the sky as seen from Earth.
  • Ka'epaoka'awela - an asteroid whose name means mischievous opposite-moving companion of Jupiter.

For more information about  Imaginarium shows and events contact:
Manager, Dineene O‘Connor, at 808-235-7350 or                                                                              


Our admission prices 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
Please pick up and pay for tickets at the Imaginarium Box Office at least 15 minutes prior to showtime.
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

Dream to Fly
future dateTBD

Phantom of the Universe 
future date TBD

Stargazing with
Krissie Kellogg
future date TBD
future date TBD
Stars of the Pharaohs
future date TBD
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