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Starry Heavens Newsletter
September 2021

Time to Celebrate the Autumnal Equinox

Sept. 22: The equinox arrives at 9:21 a.m. HST (1921 GMT), marking the first day of autumn in the Northern Hemisphere and the first day of spring in the Southern Hemisphere. If you are interested in the science behind this cyclical astronomical event  our website link below for Online Resources – Hokulani At Home provides  an easy to understand explanation.

Many people are familiar with the summer and winter solstice celebrations around the world but let us not leave out the Equinoxes, that while a pivotal part of the astronomical year, are often overlooked.

Ancient people understood and celebrated the importance of the equinoxes marking the seasonal changes from summer to fall – the time for harvesting and preparing for winter and from winter to spring – the time for preparing to plant crops. The equinoxes mark the rhythm of sowing and reaping to sustain life and are certainly worthy of celebration. Here are nine Equinox celebrations across the world that you may not have known about.

Mabon In the UK an ancient celebration was given a new name. Ancient Celts marked the cyclical behavior of the Sun with a series of celebrations called Sabbats. In the 1970s two new Sabbats were added to coincide with the equinoxes. Mabon was the name given to the autumnal equinox when pagans give thanks for the summer months that have provided the fruits of the harvest season. Often times altars are built that contain food especially apples as they are harvested in September. 

Some celebrating Mabon gather at Stonehenge to watch the sunrise, give thanks for the harvest and look forward to the winter solstice.
The Snake of Sunlight – In Mexico at Chichen Itza at the precise moment of the equinox, a shadow forms on the main stairs of the ancient Mayan pyramid, El Castillo. The shadow looks like a snake slithering down the stairs of the pyramid. People from all over the globe gather to watch.

Higan-e  - In Japan, there’s a Buddhist celebration called Higan, , which is celebrated during the September and March equinoxes. This is because at the equinox, the sun sets due west – which is where the Japanese Buddhists believe the land of the afterlife is located.
Both equinoxes have been national holidays since the Meiji period. It is a time to remember the dead by visiting, cleaning, and decorating their graves. Higan is also a time of meditation and to visit living relatives.

Moon Festivals – In China and Viet Nam the Mid-Autumn Festival or Moon Festival is typically celebrated on the full moon closest to the September equinox. This year, that will actually be on September 20 (HST) and September 21 (GMT).
The Moon Festival celebrates the summer harvest – like so many other equinox celebrations on this list. People celebrate by giving mooncakes to friends and family. Mooncakes are a delicious pastry with lotus, sesame seeds, duck egg, or dried fruit on the inside. The Moon Festival is also a great time to spend time moon-gazing!

Chuseok – In Korea also celebrates the Moon festival by giving Moon pies.

Navratri - Hindu people in India celebrate Navratri, a festival that lasts several days in the months of September and October. The festival honors the divine feminine Devi (Durga).

Neris River Autumn Equinox Celebration - In Vilnius, Lithuania, people light candles after sunset during the autumn equinox celebration at the Neris River waterfront.

Feast of Greener  - In Poland, people celebrate the Feast of Greener by getting foods and bouquets blessed by a priest and using them for medicine.

Reasons to Look Up in September

Sept. 3: Mercury reaches its highest point in the evening sky. Shining at magnitude 0.1, the innermost planet will be barely visible above the western horizon at sunset.
Sept. 6: The new moon arrives at 2:52 p.m. HST (0052 Sept. 7 GMT).
Sept. 9: 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. 
Sept. 13: Mercury at greatest elongation east. The innermost planet will reach its greatest eastern separation from the sun, shining brightly at magnitude 0.1. Catch the elusive planet above the western horizon shortly after sunset.
Sept. 14: Neptune at opposition. The gas giant will appear at its biggest and brightest of the year, shining at magnitude 7.8. (You'll need a telescope to see it.)
Sept. 15: SpaceX will use a Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft to launch the first all-civilian orbital mission, known as Inspiration4. It will lift off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. 
Sept. 16: Conjunction of the moon and Saturn. The waxing gibbous moon will swing about 3 degrees to the south of Saturn in the evening sky. 
Sept. 18: Conjunction of the moon and Jupiter. The waxing gibbous moon will swing about 4 degrees to the south of Jupiter in the evening sky. 
Sept. 20: The full moon of September, known as the Full Harvest Moon, occurs at 1:55 p.m. HST (2355 GMT).
Sept. 22: The equinox arrives at 9:21 a.m. HST (1921 GMT), marking the first day of autumn in the Northern Hemisphere and the first day of spring in the Southern Hemisphere.
Sept. 24: The waning gibbous moon and Uranus will make a close approach, passing within 1.3 degrees of each other. Shining at magnitude 5.7. 
Also scheduled to launch in September (from Spaceflight Now):
  • An Arianespace Soyuz rocket will launch two satellites for Europe's Galileo navigation constellation. It will lift off from the Guiana Space Center near Kourou, French Guiana. 
SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the first two WorldView Legion Earth observation satellites from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
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 September. 

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

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