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

Starry Heavens Newsletter
July 2021

Three, Two, One, liftoff! 
UH Mānoa students win 2nd place finish in national rocket competition

Members from University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Team Hōkūlele headed to Mojave, Calif., to launch their 15-foot rocket and payload in a national competition. The project by College of Engineering students was accepted into the Friends of Amateur Rocketry (FAR) 1030 June 5, 2021 Competition.

The students launched their rocket called Kuamoʻo (Milky Way) in the competition’s 30,000-foot category, a cruising altitude for some commercial airplanes. Along with the altitude requirement, their objectives were: launch the rocket with live video, deploy a rover vehicle upon landing and recover all components in reusable condition. Team Hōkūlele and the other competing college and amateur teams launched their rockets from the FAR rocketry range near Edwards Air Force Base.

Dr. Jacob Hudson, WCC's CAE High-Power Rocket Coordinator, provided technical assistance for Team Hokulele. The Kuamo'o rocket was also field tested at the Rocket Motor Static Test Facility on the Windward campus.

This project is the culmination of two years of work since last year’s team was unable to compete due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thirty years in the making

Current and former astronomers from the University of Hawaiʻi Institute for Astronomy (IfA) have wrapped up a massive collaborative study that set out to determine if most solar systems in the "Milky Way" are similar to our own. The 30-year Hawaiʻi-based planetary census sought to find where giant planets tend to reside relative to their host stars.

Image Hawaiʻi Institute for Astronomy at UH Manoa

In our solar system, the giant planets—Jupiter and Saturn—are found in the chilly outer regions, while smaller planets tend to orbit closer to the Sun. Earth lives in an intermediate tropical zone well-suited to life, at a distance of 1AU (astronomical unit) from the Sun. Jupiter is about 5 AU from the Sun, and Saturn is at 9 AU. An AU, the distance from the Earth to our Sun, is about 93 million miles.

New data reveals that, on average, there are 14 cold giant planets per 100 stars in the galaxy, so although the solar system is not the most common type of planetary system in the galaxy, it is well represented. The number of giant planets detected around nearby stars suggest that billions of giant planets reside in the Milky Way Galaxy.

Data also found that giant planets tend to reside about 1 to 10 AU from their host stars, a mostly icy region located beyond these stars’ temperate zones.

Researchers observed 719 sun-like stars for more than three decades, finding 177 planets, including 14 that were newly discovered. The planets have masses between one-hundredth and 20 times the mass of Jupiter.

W. M. Keck Observatory on Maunakea

Although the project, called the California Legacy Survey, originated in the Golden State in the 1990s, about half of the data was obtained at the W. M. Keck Observatory on Maunakea. It is the longest-duration exoplanet survey to date.

The survey was a collaboration that included researchers from IfA, Caltech and the University of California, and primarily used Keck and the Shane and Automated Planet Finder telescopes at Lick Observatory, near San Jose, California. Researchers see this survey as a great jumping-off point for future instruments that are sensitive to planets the size of Earth.

Reasons for Looking Up In July
July 1: Arianespace will use a Soyuz rocket to launch 36 satellites into orbit for the OneWeb internet constellation. The mission, called OneWeb 8, will lift off from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Siberia. 
July 5: Happy aphelion day! Earth is farthest from the sun today. 
July 9: Mercury reaches its highest point in the morning sky, shining brightly at magnitude 0.3. See it just above the southeast horizon just before sunrise. 
July 9: The new moon arrives at 3:16 p.m. HST (0116 July 10 GMT)
July 12: Conjunction of the moon, Venus and Mars. The waxing crescent moon will pass about 3 degrees to the north of Venus. Mars and Venus will be 0.5 degrees apart.
July 14: Kau ka la i ka lolo (aka Lahaina Noon) occurs at 12:39 p.m. HST on July 14 for Kaneohe and at 12:38 P.M. HST on July 15 for Honolulu.
July 15: A Russian Proton rocket will launch the Nauka science module to the International Space Station from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
July 23: The full moon of July, known as the Full Buck Moon, arrives at 4:37 p.m. HST (0237 July 24 GMT). 
July 24: Conjunction of the moon and Saturn. The full moon will swing about 4 degrees to the south of Saturn in the dawn sky. 
July 25: Conjunction of the moon and Jupiter. The waning crescent moon will swing about 4 degrees to the south of Jupiter in the dawn sky. 
Also scheduled to launch in July (from Spaceflight Now):
  • A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket will launch the USSF-44 mission for the U.S. Air Force. The mission will lift off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida and is expected to deploy two undisclosed payloads into geosynchronous orbit.
  • A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Transporter 2 rideshare mission with several small satellites for commercial and government customers. It will lift off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
  • India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) will launch the Indian RISAT 1A radar Earth observation satellite from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, India

Our Online Resources Update
Hokulani Star Stories - 
A new star story - Ka Lupe O Kawelo, the great kite of Kawelo will be uploaded to the website during the month of July. 

Our Online Resources Update
Hokulani Star Stories - 
A new star story - Ka Lupe O Kawelo, the great kite of Kawelo will be uploaded to the website during the month of June. 

For 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
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Phantom of the Universe 
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Stargazing with
Krissie Kellogg
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Stars of the Pharaohs
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