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Starry Heavens Newsletter
August 2021

Space Travel – The Barnstorming Phase is Upon Us
Did you know ten ordinary, well relatively speaking, people went into space in July just because they wanted to go. They were not astronauts, they were not part of a space agency. Some were senior citizens, one was a teenager, two were brothers, one was a grandfather several were women and one was a Knight. Think about it - ordinary people going to the edge of space because they felt like it. What is this world coming to?!!!! How did this happen? Truth is it has been a long time in the making.

Mankind has always been intrigued with flight. Although the true origin of this quest to fly is a mystery, the desire behind it is clear. Mankind is born with the desire to touch the stars. The Kumulipo proclaims that we are made from the blackness of space; that we are made of the stuff of stars.

My favorite line from Peter Pan is Peter’s response to Wendy when she asks where “Neverland is”. His response, “Second star to the right and straight on till morning.”

While the first untethered human flight happened in the late 1700s, dreaming and planning for man-carrying flying machines can be traced as far back as 428 BC.Tales of individuals attempting to fly can be found throughout many ancient cultures. In Greek mythology, the legend of Daedalus and Icarus can be found, which tells the story of a father and son who created wings by combining feathers and wax. Although it ended in tragedy, this story shows that men have always wanted to fly. Similar stories are found in Europe, India, and China.

The 1700s saw the beginning of the age of modern aviation and brought forth the main categories of lighter-than-air and heavier-than-air aviation.
This type of aviation refers to balloons and airships. The Montgolfier Brothers exhibited their unmanned hot air balloon on June 4, 1783, which flew over Annonay, France followed later that year by the first untethered flight, which flew just over 5 miles in 25 minutes.

There is more than a little controversy surrounding the various claims for the title of developing the first heavier-than-air aircraft. One of the first powered flights by French inventor Clément Ader was on October 9, 1890. This flight traveled at a height of only 20 centimeters but covered a total distance of 50 meters, which was very impressive at the time.

The most universally accepted and official date that jumpstarted modern aviation is December 17, 1903. The Wright brothers completed four flights in their Flyer, the longest lasting 59 seconds and traveling 852 feet. Combining both power and control, these flights set a new standard for aviation.

Eleven years later the very first passenger air travel started in Florida on January 14, 1914, taking passengers between St. Petersburg and Tampa. It only lasted for four months but paved the way for modern-day air travel.

Aviation, as our own Dr. Ciotti notes, did not start with government agencies or support but with individuals who woke every day compelled to pursue their dreams and their passion to fly.
Big Things Start Small

The space race between the USA and Russia started with a small beep from the Sputnik satellite 64 years ago (October 4, 1957) and ended with a handshake in space just 18 years later. The handshake was the start of many decades of international collaboration in space. But over the past decade there has been a huge change.

The space environment is no longer the sole preserve of government agencies. Private companies have entered the exploration domain and are propelling the sector forward more vigorously and swiftly than would be the case if left to governments alone.

It could be argued that a new space race has begun, in which private companies are competing against each other and against government organizations. But this time it is driven by a competition for customers rather than the urge to show national dominance by being first to achieve a certain goal. So who are the main players and how will they change the science, technology and politics of space exploration?

There is a big difference between building and launching satellites into low Earth orbit for telecommunications and sending crew and cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) and beyond. Private companies in several nations have been engaged in the satellite market for many years. Their contributions to the development of non-governmental space exploration has helped to lay the trail for entrepreneurs with the vision and resources to develop their own pathways to space.

Today, several companies in the US are looking very specifically at human spaceflight. The three that are perhaps furthest down the road are SpaceX, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic. One thing these companies have in common is the private passion of their chief executives.The main goals of all three companies is to reduce the cost of access to space – mainly through reuse of launchers and spacecraft – making space accessible to people who are not specially trained astronauts. Dr. Ciotti, who was a participant in NASA’s teachers in space program, has long held the view that space travel needs private sector initiative to drive it forward and will not become mainstream until it is safe for seniors and minors.

Three, Two. One – Ready or Not Here We Come

Just after 9:15 a.m. on July 11, Sir Richard Branson, CEO  and founder of Virgin Galactic, along with Virgin Galactic employees Beth Moses, Colin Bennett, Sirista Bandla, Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci boarded the SpaceShipTwo, a winged plane with a single rocket motor that the company has spent nearly two decades developing. The massive twin-fuselaged mothership dubbed WhiteKnightTwo carried SpaceShipTwo about 50,000 feet into the air where it detached from the mothership. The crew experienced weightlessness for a few minutes and unparalleled panoramic views of Earth before flying back into Earth’s atmosphere where it glided to a perfect runway landing.

source; Virgin Galactic

Source: Blue Origin

Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Blue Origin rocketed past the edge of space Tuesday July 20, at 9:12a.m. from his West Texas property where he has been building a spaceport. Bezos, a professed lifelong Trekkie was not alone on the modest up and down 66.5 mile sub-orbital jaunt just  beyond the Karman line lasting a mere ten minutes. Aboard with him were his brother, Mark Bezos, Wally Funk, an 82-year old aviation pioneer and 18-year old Oliver Daemen from the Netherlands. For Blue Origin, which Bezos founded in 2000, the flight marked a significant milestone – the company’s first human space flight.

“You haven’t mowed the lawn yet?! Why can’t you be more like Richard Branson. It’s noon and he has already taken 5 of his best friends into space and now he’s taking his grand kids out for ice cream.”

What was I doing Saturday July 11? Laundry, grocery shopping, mowing the lawn. In July there were not one but two Space Jams for the lucky friends of Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos! How can I get on those invite lists?!

The Missions have a Message
The original space race resulted from the ideas and skills of visionary theoretician engineers including: Robert H GoddardWernher von BraunKonstantin E. Tsiolkovsky… Is it too far a stretch to think that the second space race is propelled by a new generation of entrepreneurs, including Bezos, Branson and Musk? If so one would hope that the main enabling factor in the pursuit of space endeavors is not possession of wealth, but the vision, ingenuity and a wish for the betterment of humanity and the fragile planet we live on.
Gratefully, Branson and Bezos acknowledge the profound realization that our atmosphere is Earth’s severely thin barrier protecting Earth from all manor or radiation and protecting life as we know it. Branson and Bezos pledge to pursue their passions for space travel and protection of Earth.

"This is the only good planet in this solar system," Bezos said Tuesday. "And we have to take care of it. When you go into space and see how fragile it is, you'll want to take care of it all the more. This image of Earth's atmosphere is severely thin. We must protect it as it protects us. The atmosphere seems so big from our perspective on Earth but once one sees our atmosphere at the Karman line it is apparent how thin it is.That's what traveling to space is about. This flight reinforces my commitment to climate change, to the environment."



Reasons for Looking Up In August
Aug. 1: A Northrop Grumman Antares rocket will launch the Cygnus NG-16 cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. It will lift off from Pad 0A at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia. 
Aug. 2: Saturn at opposition. The ringed planet will be directly opposite the sun in Earth's sky around the same time that it makes its closest approach to Earth all year. This means it will appear at its biggest and brightest of the year. Saturn will reach its highest point in the night sky around midnight. 
Aug. 8: The new moon arrives at 3:50 a.m. HST 
Aug. 11: Conjunction of the moon and Venus. The waxing crescent moon will pass about 4 degrees to the north of Venus. Look for the pair above the western horizon after sunset. 
Aug. 11-12: The annual Perseid meteor shower, which is active from mid-July to the end of August, peaks overnight. 
Aug. 18: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch a Dragon cargo resupply mission (CRS-23) to the International Space Station. It will lift off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. 
Aug. 19: Jupiter at opposition. The gas giant will be directly opposite the sun in Earth's sky around the same time that it makes its closest approach to Earth of the year. The planet will shine at its biggest and brightest tonight and will be visible all night long. 
Aug. 20: Conjunction of the moon and Saturn. The waxing gibbous moon will swing about 3 degrees to the south of Saturn in the evening sky. 
Aug. 22: The full moon of August, known as the Full Sturgeon Moon, occurs at 2:02 a.m. HST. This will also be a so-called "Blue Moon" because it is the third full moon in a season that has four full moons. 
Aug. 22: Conjunction of the moon and Jupiter. The Blue Sturgeon moon will swing about 4 degrees to the south of Jupiter in the night sky. 
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 August. 

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
future date TBD
future date TBD
Stars of the Pharaohs
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