As Scheduled Stargazing Kauai

Kauai, Hawaii Thanks to minimal interference from city lights, Kauai is an ideal place for viewing night skies. Whether you're planning a Stargazing party, or just wish to observe our magnificent skies with a friend or two, let me be your SKYWATCH GUIDE. I'm Rozlyn Reiner, an astronomy educator, (also known as Rocket Roz), & I maintain this AstroEvents page. I'm quite familiar with our Hawaiian skies & provide exciting & informative guided sky tours. Learn your way around the night sky, as I use a powerful laser & helpful visual aides to point out stars, planets, constellations, & other celestial objects. Then gaze through the telescope and observe double stars, star clusters, distant galaxies, nebulae & other deep space phenomena. The West side of Kauai has the most consistently clear skies (Waimea, Kekaha, Polihale Beach Park), & I will host small groups at my Kekaha home, or at nearby West Kauai viewing sites. I am also available to meet with you at another site if viewing conditions are favorable there. For further info, please contact: roz@rozhome.com

April 14-15 TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE Hawaiian Islands; North, Central, & South America On the evening of April 14th (from Hawaii) & into the early morning hours of April 15th (from the Mainland US), we'll experience a total lunar eclipse. Observers throughout North, Central, & South America & in the Hawaiian Islands will have a prime view of this eclipse. Many sites indicate the eclipse is on April 15th (early morning), but in Hawaii, we’ll experience the eclipse on Monday night (before midnight). As seen from Hawaii, the Moon will be in total eclipse for 78 minutes, from 9:06PM – 10:24PM HST on MONDAY April 14th. A lunar eclipse occurs when the Sun, Earth, and the Moon line up. A total lunar eclipse can only occur at Full Moon, when Earth passes directly between the Sun & the Moon, & blocks the sunlight normally reflected by the Moon. Some sunlight is bent through Earth's atmosphere, typically allowing the Moon a coppery glow. A totally eclipsed Moon takes on different shades depending on conditions in Earth's atmosphere. Colors range from coppery orange to dull brown, to a deep shade of red. Note that Mars lies relatively close to Earth now, & shines at magnitude minus -1.4. It will appear close to the eclipsed (red) Moon, (& blue-white Spica), in Virgo, a stunning contrast! With the full Moon darkened in Earth’s shadow, numerous celestial objects should literally “pop out” for viewing in our magnificent spring sky. FOR OTHER TIME ZONES - April 15th: TOTALITY, when the Moon turns red, runs from 12:06AM to 1:24AM (PDT), early on April 15 on the WEST COAST; from 2:06AM to 3:24PM (CDT) in CHICAGO; and from 3:06AM to 4:24AM (EDT) in NEW YORK. For more details visit spaceweather.com

April 2014 April Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands April SKYWATCH UPDATE IN PROGRESS... For an April Hawaiian sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

Saturday, April 19, beginning at 7PM KEASA PUBLIC STARWATCH Kaumakani Park & Sports Pavilion The Kauai Educational Association for Science & Astronomy, KEASA, presents its monthly public STARWATCH, beginning at sunset (approx. 7PM), Saturday, April 19, at Kaumakani Park & Sports Pavilion, (behind Kaumakani School & Neighborhood Center). There will be a night sky orientation starting at 6:45. Suggest bringing a windbreaker or light jacket, as it tends to get chilly later in the evening. Bring a beach or lawn chair, PLUS a mat, towel, or blanket to sit on, and a small FLASHLIGHT, for everyone in your party, if possible. For more information, including driving directions to this excellent viewing site, visit www.keasa.org (keasa.org). For recorded directions phone 808.332-STAR(7827). Feel free to call (808)652-2373, on Saturday, late afternoon, for weather updates affecting the Starwatch for that evening.

December 2013 December Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands As the sky starts to darken, VENUS appears as a brilliant "evening star." (Hokukauahiahi). Currently at magnitude minus -4.7, Venus shines brighter & climbs higher in the evening sky during early December, than at any other time during this apparition. Traversing across the constellation Sagittarius, our sister/neighbor planet sets at around 8:45PM at the start of the month, and by 7:20PM at months' end. JUPITER rises at 8:30PM at the start of December, and by 6:30 (at dusk) at months' ends. Blazing at magnitude minus -2.4, the gas giant appears stunning this month. Jupiter lies against the background stars of Gemini, approx. 10? SW of Gemini Twin stars Castor & Pollux. With a small telescope or good binoculars, you can view Jupiter's 4 bright Galilean moons in their ever-changing configurations. Larger scopes will reveal Jupiter's dark equatorial belts, (one on either side of a brighter equatorial zone), the giant red spot, & other dynamic surface features. December SKYWATCH UPDATE IN PROGRESS... For a December Hawaiian sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

October 2013 October Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands As the sky starts to darken, VENUS appears as a brilliant "evening star." (Hokukauahiahi). Currently at magnitude minus -4.1, it is spectacular, fairly low in the southwestern sky at sunset. Despite its increasing elongation from the Sun, Venus moves mostly southward along the horizon & not higher in the sky each night. (Sets around 8:45PM throughout the month). Venus starts the month against the background stars of Libra the Balance, before crossing into Scorpius the Scorpion on Oct. 7th. On the 16th, Venus passes 1.6? north of 1st magnitude Antares, Scorpius' brightest star. Venus shines about 100 times brighter than Antares. Venus reflects light from our slightly yellowish Sun, whereas the red super-giant Antares shines with an orange hue. (Scorpius is AKA: Ka Makau Nui a Maui, "Maui's fishhook." This is the fishhook that the demigod Maui used to pull these islands out from under the sea. Antares is AKA: Lehuakona - "Southern Lehua Blossom"). Beautiful SATURN has been our constant companion for the past few months. But the time for Saturn viewing is coming to an end. Early in October, you might still catch Saturn, about 10? above the western horizon at sunset, in Libra the Scales or Balance. A good guide is MERCURY , a much brighter dot of light down below Saturn. The best night for spotting Saturn will be October 6th, when the slender crescent Moon will be right between Saturn (on top) and Mercury (below the Moon). By October 20th, Saturn sets before 7PM, which means it's pretty much lost in the Sun's glare. Look for the ringed planet to reappear in the morning sky in mid-November. The brightest point of light in our morning sky is JUPITER, blazing at magnitude minus -2.1. The gas giant lies among the background stars of Gemini, backed by the brilliant stars of winter. Look for Orion to lower the right (SW) of Jupiter, & Sirius (A'a), the #1 brightest star, directly below (South). Jupiter & Gemini rise at around midnight at the start of the October. By month's end, Jupiter rises at 10:45PM and is almost directly overhead at daybreak. With a small telescope or good binoculars, you can view Jupiter's 4 bright Galilean moons in their ever-changing configurations. Larger scopes will reveal Jupiter's dark equatorial belts, (one on either side of a brighter equatorial zone), the giant red spot, & other dynamic surface features. MARS , remains fairly dim in the morning sky. The red planet shines with a ruddy hue at magnitude 1.6; rising at 3AM in early October, and at 2:30AM at month's end. Mars spends the month in Leo the Lion, & appears slightly fainter than nearby Regulus, Leo's brightest star. On the morning of Oct 15th, Mars & Regulus will be less than 1? apart. Regulus has a slightly bluish cast while Mars appears orange-red. For an October Hawaiian sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

Saturday Nov. 23rd, starting at 6:00PM KEASA PUBLIC STARWATCH Kaumakani Park & Sports Pavilion The Kauai Educational Association for Science & Astronomy, KEASA, presents its monthly public STARWATCH, beginning at sunset, Saturday Nov.23rd, at Kaumakani Park & Sports Pavilion, (behind Kaumakani Neighborhood Center). There will be a skywatch orientation program starting at 5:45PM. Suggest bringing a jacket, hat, & other warm clothing as it tends to get chilly later in the evening. Bring a beach or lounge chair, as well as a mat, towel, or blanket to sit on, and a small flashlight for everyone in your party. For more information, including directions to this excellent viewing site, visit www.keasa.org (keasa.org). For recorded driving directions phone 808.332-STAR(7827). Feel free to call (808)652-2373, on Saturday LATE AFTERNOON, for weather updates affecting Starwatch for that evening.

September 2013 September Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Behold our spectacular September skies! Glorious bands of Milky Way stars illuminate our dark Hawaiian sky with a rich, "milky" haze. High in the northern sky, the three bright stars of the Summer Triangle are easy to spot: ALTAIR, in Aquila the Eagle; VEGA, in Lyra the Harp; & DENEB, in Cygnus the Swan. Scorpius, the giant Scorpion, & Sagittarius, the Archer, display boldly toward the south. As the sky starts to darken, VENUS appears as a brilliant "evening star." (Hoku Kauahiahi). Currently at magnitude minus -4.0, it is spectacular, fairly low in the western sky (WSW) at sunset! Despite its increasing elongation from the Sun, Venus moves mostly southward along the horizon & not higher in the sky each night. (Sets around 8:45PM throughout the month). Watch nightly as Venus appears to move closer & closer to Saturn. Venus crosses from Virgo into Libra on Sept. 18th, and on the 19th, the sparkling gem passes just 4? south of Saturn. Throughout the month, beautiful SATURN will appear lower & lower in the west after sunset, and will be almost gone by the 30th. Use brilliant Venus to find much dimmer Saturn, as above. After Sept. 20th, the two planets separate, as Venus moves more quickly on its eastward trek into Libra. By the 30th, Saturn appears 13? northwest of Venus, with Mercury (still mired in bright twilight) some 9? west of the ringed planet. Best to view Saturn during late twilight; the added altitude makes up for the reduced contrast. Saturn's rings open wider than they've been since 2006, tilting at 18? to our line of sight from Earth, & afford impressive views through even a small telescope. Saturn sets around 8:10PM at the end of the month, & Venus sets around 8:40. The brightest of the morning planets is JUPITER, blazing at magnitude minus -2.0. The gas giant lies among the background stars of Gemini, backed by the brilliant stars of winter. (Look for Orion to the right of Jupiter, & Sirius to the lower right). Early in the month Jupiter & Gemini rise at 2:15AM, in the ENE. By the end of September, Jupiter rises at 12:30AM and is 2/3rds of the way up in the east at daybreak. With a small telescope or good binoculars, you can view Jupiter's 4 bright Galilean moons in their ever-changing configurations. Larger scopes will reveal Jupiter's dark equatorial belts, (one on either side of a brighter equatorial zone), the giant red spot, & other dynamic surface features. MARS , glowing at magnitude 1.6, appears far less prominent than Jupiter, however it still looks conspicuous on September mornings due to it's ruddy red-orange hue. The Red Planet rises in the east at 3:30AM at the start of the month, and at 3AM at months end. It traverses Cancer in early September, making an impressive pass thru the Beehive star cluster (M44) on the 8th & 9th. Mars crosses into Leo on the 26th, and ends the month just 9? east of Regulus, the Lion's brightest star. September marks the transition from Summer to Autumn skies. The Autumnal Equinox occurs on Sept. 22nd here in Hawaii. This is the moment when the Sun crosses the celestial equator, marking the change in seasons from summer to fall. On the day of the equinox, the Sun rises exactly in the East, & sets exactly in the West, & periods of day & night are equal (close to 12 hours each). After the equinox, the Sun will appear lower & lower in the sky & the days will grow shorter. For a September Hawaiian sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

August 2013 August Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Behold our spectacular summer skies! Glorious bands of Milky Way stars illuminate our dark Hawaiian sky with a rich, "milky" haze. High in the northern sky, the three bright stars of the Summer Triangle are easy to spot: ALTAIR, in Aquila the Eagle; VEGA, in Lyra the Harp; & DENEB, in Cygnus the Swan. Scorpius, the giant Scorpion, & Sagittarius, the Archer, display boldly toward the south. As the sky starts to darken, VENUS appears as a brilliant "evening star." (Hoku Kauahiahi). Currently at magnitude minus -3.9, it is spectacular high in the western sky at sunset! Despite its increasing elongation from the Sun, Venus moves mostly southward along the horizon & not higher in the sky each night. (Sets around 9PM throughout the month). Venus treks across the constellation Virgo this month, heading for a conjunction with Spica (Virgo's brightest star), around Sept. 5th. Virgo currently harbors another planet: beautiful SATURN , which resides at the far eastern end of this constellation. As twilight starts to fade, Saturn becomes prominent in the southwestern sky. Saturn continues to make a nice triangle with two bright stars, Arcturus (Hokule'a) and Spica. Blue-white Spica, to the lower right (SW) of Saturn, is a little dimmer than Saturn. Arcturus, to the upper right (NW) of Saturn, is a yellow star, brighter than both Saturn and Spica. Saturn's magnificent rings open wider than they've been since 2006, tilting at 17? to our line of sight from Earth, & afford impressive views through even a small telescope. The brightest of the morning planets is JUPITER, blazing at magnitude minus -2.0 at mid-month. The gas giant lies among the background stars of Gemini, & climbs higher with each passing day. By the end of August, Jupiter rises just after 2AM & is halfway up in the east at daybreak. As Jupiter rises in the east, it is just to the left of Orion the Hunter. MARS appears only 5? from Jupiter in early August, but the gap grows to nearly 20? by the end of the month. The Red Planet, at magnitude 1.8, crosses from Gemini into Cancer during the final week of August, & appears 5? west of the Beehive star cluster (M44) at month's end. For an August Hawaiian sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

August 11-13 Perseid Meteor Shower Hawaiian Island Viewing The Perseid Meteor Shower peaks after midnight, in the pre-dawn sky, the mornings of Aug. 12th & 13th. The crescent Moon sets around 10PM, leaving a moonless sky during the showers peak. Best viewing will probably be from late night thru early morning, between midnight and dawn. Under clear, dark skies, observers might expect to see 80-100 meteors per hour. Perseid meteors are typically fast & bright, & often leave persistent trains. They appear to "radiate" from the constellation Perseus, "The Hero." Activity increases during the early morning hours when Perseus is high in the northeast & the Earth spins sky-watchers into the oncoming stream of comet debris. Starting on the nights of August 11/12 and 12/13, watch for Perseid meteors to streak across the sky from late night until dawn. Find a location with a good view of the full sky; away from distracting street lights or house lights. You do not need a telescope or binoculars to view this or any other meteor shower. Just get yourself to the darkest location you can find, relax in a comfortable recliner chair, perhaps with a blanket & hot beverage, & enjoy the show! Perseids typically produce lots of bright meteors, many leaving luminous trails visible for several seconds. These are FAST meteors, with a velocity of about 37 miles/sec or 133,000 miles/hour! Meteor showers occur when the Earth passes through the path of a comet. The bits of debris left behind by the comets, most no larger than a grain of sand, create a spectacular light show as they enter (& burn up in) Earth's atmosphere. The Perseids' parent comet is 109/Swift-Tuttle, which last visited our part of the Solar System in 1992. The comet has an orbital period (returns to orbit our Sun) approx. every 130 years.

July 2013 July Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Behold our spectacular summer skies! Glorious bands of Milky Way stars illuminate our dark Hawaiian sky with a rich, "milky" haze. High in the northern sky, the three bright stars of the Summer Triangle are easy to spot: ALTAIR, in Aquila the Eagle; VEGA, in Lyra the Harp; & DENEB, in Cygnus the Swan. Scorpius, the giant Scorpion, & Sagittarius, the Archer, display boldly toward the south. As the sky starts to darken, VENUS appears as a brilliant "evening star." (Hoku Kauahiahi). Currently at magnitude minus -3.8, it is spectacular high in the western sky at sunset! Despite its increasing elongation from the Sun, Venus moves mostly southward along the horizon & not higher in the sky each night. (Sets around 9PM throughout the month). On July 12th, Venus crosses from Cancer into Leo, making a beeline toward Regulus, the Lion's brightest star. On July 21st, the two lie just 1.2? from each other. Venus reigns supreme in the evening sky, until reaching peak visibility in early December, when it shines brightest (mag. minus - 4.7) & appears highest in the southwest as darkness falls. As twilight starts to fade, SATURN becomes prominent in the southwestern sky. The ringed planet shines at magnitude 0.6, far brighter than the surrounding background stars of eastern Virgo. Saturn continues to form a triangle with the bright stars Arcturus (Hokule'a) to the NE, and Spica, 13? degrees to the west. Saturn appears noticeably brighter than Spica, & slightly dimmer than Arcturus. Notice Saturn's golden hue compared to blue-white Spica, & yellow-orange Arcturus. Saturn's rings open wider than they've been since 2006, tilting at 17? to our line of sight from Earth, & afford impressive views through even a small telescope. MARS is the only planet visible in the dawn sky in early July. It rises in the east at 4:30AM although, at magnitude 1.5, will be hard to spot as the eastern sky brightens. Prospects for finding Mars improve by July 9th, when blazing Jupiter rises below Mars in the east at 5AM. Find Jupiter, then look for Mars about 5 degrees above it. Mars crosses from Taurus into Gemini around mid-July. Giant JUPITER rises earlier each morning, and will pass within 1? of Mars on July 22nd; (with yellowish Jupiter on the right, many, MANY times brighter than ruddy Mars). From July 23 ? 31, looking east from around 4:45AM to dawn, brilliant Jupiter appears higher & higher above Mars each morning. MERCURY joins the morning planet gathering during the final week of the month. On the 25th, the tiny innermost planet lies 7? below Mars, & just 5? above the horizon, 45 minutes before sunrise. Mercury remains very low on the eastern horizon, and brightens substantially, reaching magnitude 0.18 by the end of the month. The 3 morning planets all reside in Gemini the Twins, to the right of Castor & Pollux, and to the left of the rising stars of Orion the Hunter. On July 31st, a waning crescent Moon enhances the scene, just a few degrees to the right of the Pleiades star cluster (M45) on the back of Taurus the Bull. For a July Hawaiian sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

June 2013 June Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Our late spring/early summer skies provide fascinating opportunities for stargazing. As the sky starts to darken, VENUS appears as a brilliant "evening star." (Hoku Kauahiahi). Currently at magnitude minus -3.7, it is spectacular high in the western sky at sunset! Venus reigns supreme in the evening sky, until reaching peak visibility in early December, when it shines brightest (mag. minus -4.7) & appears highest in the southwest as darkness falls. On June 25th, Venus forms a straight line with Gemini twin stars, Castor & Pollux, the same day it crosses from Gemini into Cancer. MERCURY will remain in close company with Venus, in the west-northwest at dusk, during the first three weeks of June. Use Venus to find Mercury. From June 6 ? 14, Mercury will appear about 4 degrees above Venus, shining at approx. zero magnitude. The 2 planets emerge from dusk around 7:30 p.m. & set around 8:45 p.m. The pair climb higher each night until June 12th, when Mercury reaches maximum elongation (greatest angular distance east of the Sun, about 24?). Then Mercury turns "retrograde," heading back toward the Sun. It moves from being to the upper left of Venus on the 15th, to being side by side on the 19th. Mercury appears lower & lower in the sky each night, its brightness fades & it appears fainter by the night. By the end of the month, Mercury is lost in the Sun's glow. While the 2 innermost planets huddle in the west at dusk, SATURN shines in the east & is overhead most of the night. Saturn stands nearly 45? high in the SSE at mid-twilight. Saturn shines at around 0.9 magnitude, & appears 13? east (to the left) of Spica, Virgo's brightest star. Saturn forms a triangle with Spica & Arcturus, the bright star which appears about 30? above/north of Saturn. Saturn appears noticeably brighter than Spica, & slightly dimmer than Arcturus. Notice Saturn's golden hue compared to blue-white Spica, & yellow-orange Arcturus. Saturn's rings open wider than they've been since 2006, tilting at 17? to our line of sight from Earth, & afford impressive views through even a small telescope. Look for the waxing gibbous Moon to pass near Spica & Saturn on June 17-19. June is the last month this year that The Southern Cross, (Crux), will be viewable (from Hawaiian Islands). To view Crux, you'll need an unobstructed view to the southern horizon. At mid-month, at around 8:00 PM, look for Crux standing upright, low on the southern horizon (nearly due South). Look for 2 bright stars, Alpha & Beta Centauri, which "point" to the Cross to their right/west. At this time of evening, you should be able to see all the way from Polaris, (the North Star), to the bottom star in the Southern Cross, Acrux; (An important Polynesian north-south navigational star-line, "Kaiwikuamo'o" ? the Backbone). For a June Hawaiian sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

May 2013 May Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Four bright planets are viewable in May's evening sky: Saturn, Jupiter, Venus, & Mercury. Brilliant VENUS emerges in the west-northwest just after sunset. Look for our sister planet, blazing at magnitude minus -3.7, just above the western horizon, starting the second week in May. Although it appears only a few degrees above the WNW horizon early in the month, its visibility improves in the following weeks. Venus climbs to meet Jupiter in late May, but not before Mercury joins the show for a series of conjunctions. As Venus appears higher & higher in the western sky after sunset, dazzling JUPITER sinks lower & lower. Jupiter appears between the horns of Taurus the Bull and, at magnitude minus -1.7, shines brighter than Sirius, the brightest star. On May 15th, looking west at about 7:20PM, you should be able to spot Venus, 12? below Jupiter, down near the western horizon. On May 21st, at around 7:45PM, Venus will be 6? below Jupiter, and MERCURY joins the party, 2? below Venus. Mercury is dimmer than the other two planets, but still holds its own at magnitude minus -1. On May 23rd, around 8PM, the 3 planets form a triangle: Venus below Jupiter; Mercury to the right of Venus. And on May 26th, the 3 planets form a perfect equilateral triangle, each planet only 2 degrees apart from the others. Finally, on May 30th, around 7:45PM, the 3 planets form a line, with Mercury on top, Venus in the middle, & Jupiter at the bottom. Jupiter sets at 8:05. While the 3 planets huddle in the west at dusk, SATURN rises in the east. At mid-month, Saturn lies nearly 30? high in the southeast an hour after sunset, & remains viewable until morning twilight. The ringed planet begins May among the background stars of Libra, and crosses into Virgo on the 13th. Saturn shines at around 0 magnitude, & appears 15? east (to the left) of Spica, Virgo's brightest star. Saturn forms a triangle with Spica & Arcturus, the bright star which appears about 30? above/north of Saturn. Saturn appears noticeably brighter than Spica, & slightly dimmer than Arcturus. Notice Saturn's golden hue compared to blue-white Spica, & yellow-orange Arcturus. Saturn's rings open wider than they've been since 2006, tilting at 18? to our line of sight from Earth, & afford impressive views through even a small telescope. While 4 of the 5 naked-eye planets are viewable this month, we still have another month before Mars reappears on the scene. MARS emerges in the pre-dawn sky in late June. The Southern Cross, (Crux), is viewable this month (from Hawaiian Islands). To view Crux, you'll need an unobstructed view to the southern horizon. At mid-month, Crux rises high enough for viewing by 8PM. At around 9:30PM, Crux should be upright, low on the southern horizon (nearly due South). Look for 2 bright stars, Alpha & Beta Centauri, which "point" to the Cross to their right/west. At this time of evening, you should be able to see all the way from Polaris, (the North Star), to the bottom star in the Southern Cross, Acrux; (An important Polynesian north-south navigational star-line, "Kaiwikuamo'o" ? the Backbone). For a May Hawaiian sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

May 9th starting at 2:20PM HST May 9th Partial Solar Eclipse Hawaiian Islands Hawaii will be the only US state to see the May 9th partial solar eclipse. This informative site has a great video (with animation) and graphics depicting how the eclipse will appear, with viewing times from Honolulu: http://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/in/usa/honolulu At the peak of the eclipse (around 3:45PM HST), using a safe filter, viewers will see between 40% ? 50% of the Sun blocked by the Moon (depending upon the island from which you are viewing). Throughout Hawaii, the eclipse will begin at around 2:20PM HST, as the Moon starts to slide across the solar disk. The Moon will appear to take a "bite" off the Sun. The 'bite' will get bigger & bigger until maximum eclipse, when more than one-third of the Sun will be blocked. After that, the Moon will slowly uncover the Sun, the 'bite' will get smaller & smaller, until the partial eclipse ends around 5PM. It cannot be stressed enough that it is never safe to view a partial solar eclipse without appropriate eye protection. If any part of the Sun?s disc is still visible, there is the danger of permanent eye damage.

April 2013 April Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands The two largest planets in our solar system, Jupiter & Saturn, show up nicely this month for viewing on balmy spring evenings. Dazzling JUPITER blazes in the western sky as darkness falls. Shining at minus -2.1 magnitude, the gas giant remains the brightest point of light in the April sky. Jupiter remains in Taurus throughout April, northeast of the Hyades star cluster; gradually moving away from Aldebaran, the red star which represents the "Eye of the Bull." Aldebaran appears reddish-orange, while Jupiter is a brilliant white. On April 13th look for a slim crescent Moon between the Hyades & Pleiades star clusters, with Jupiter about 10-degrees above. On the 14th, the Moon appears just above Jupiter. With a small telescope or good binoculars, you can view Jupiter's 4 bright Galilean moons in their ever-changing configurations. Larger scopes will reveal Jupiter's dark equatorial belts, (one on either side of a brighter equatorial zone), the giant red spot, & other dynamic surface features. SATURN rises in the east as Jupiter is setting in the west. Saturn reaches opposition & peak visibility in late April, when it lies opposite the Sun in our sky, Opposition marks an outer planet's peak because it remains visible all night, and also lies closest to Earth. In early April, Saturn rises just before 9PM and, by the end of the month, it rises at sunset. Saturn shines at around 0 magnitude, & appears 15 degrees east (to the left) of Spica, Virgo's brightest star. On the night of April 24/25, the full Moon will appear directly between Saturn & Spica. Saturn forms a triangle with Spica & Arcturus, the bright star which appears about 30 degrees above/north of Saturn). Saturn appears noticeably brighter than Spica, & slightly dimmer than Arcturus. Notice Saturn's golden hue compared to blue-white Spica, & yellow-orange Arcturus. Saturn's rings open wider than they've been since 2006, tilting at 18-degrees to our line of sight from Earth, & afford impressive views through even a small telescope. In early April we'll have a fleeting view MERCURY in the predawn sky. For the first half of April, Mercury rises in the east just after 5AM, shines at magnitude 0, and stands about 8-degrees above the horizon at day break. On April 8th, look for a thin crescent Moon just to the left of Mercury at dawn. After midmonth, Mercury will be lost in the light of the Sun. Both VENUS and MARS, are lost in the Sun's glow this month. Venus will return to the evening sky in May, while Mars emerges as a morning planet in late June. For an April Hawaiian sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

March 2013 March Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands The solar system's two largest planets, Jupiter & Saturn, are the only ones visible in a dark sky this month. Dazzling JUPITER dominates the evening sky as darkness falls. Throughout March, the gas giant gleams brilliantly in central Taurus, between the Pleiades star cluster (M45) & Aldebaran, the red-giant star seen as the "eye of the bull." Look for Jupiter high in the west at dusk. With a small telescope or good binoculars, you can view Jupiter's 4 bright Galilean moons in their ever-changing configurations. Larger scopes will reveal Jupiter's dark equatorial belts, (one on either side of a brighter equatorial zone), the giant red spot, & other dynamic surface features. As Jupiter sinks low in the west, SATURN rises in the east., Saturn rises at 11PM in early March, and by 9PM at the end of the month. It shines at magnitude 0.3 in mid-March & is one of the brightest object in the sky. The Ringed Planet lies among the background stars of western Libra, less than 20 degrees east of Spica, Virgo's brightest star. Saturn forms a near right triangle with Spica (to the west) & Arcturus (to the north). Notice Saturn's golden hue compared to blue-white Spica & yellow-orange Arcturus. Saturn's rings open wider than they've been since 2006, tilting at 19-degrees to our line of sight from Earth, & afford impressive views through even a small telescope. Both VENUS and MARS, are lost in the Sun's glow this month . Venus will not return until it becomes an evening planet in early May. Mars won't return to our skies until it emerges as a morning planet in late June. The Southern Cross, (Crux), is viewable EARLY morning this month. At mid-month, Crux rises high enough for viewing by 1AM. To view Crux, you'll need an unobstructed view to the southern horizon. At around 2AM Crux should be upright, very low on the southern horizon (nearly due South). Best viewing from 1AM until approx. 2:30AM. Look for 2 bright stars, Alpha & Beta Centauri, which "point" to the Cross to their right/west. At this time of morning, you should be able to see all the way from Polaris, (the North Star), to the bottom star in the Southern Cross, Acrux; (An important north-south navigational star-line, "Kaiwikuamo'o" ? the Backbone). Crux will be rising before midnight by the end of the month. For a March Hawaiian sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

March 10th - 24th, 2013 Comet Pan-STARRS Low on the western horizon after sunset I highly recommend this informative YouTube video from NASA ScienceCasts: "A Naked-Eye Comet in March 2013." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZlenAvqLCI . Visit SPACEWEATHER.COM for the latest updates & images of Comet Pan-STARRS (C/2011 L4), which will likely become naked-eye viewable in mid-March, just after sunset, low on the western horizon. On March 5th, comet Pan-STARRS made its closest pass by Earth, at a MERE 100 million miles from our planet. On March 10th, the comet made its closest approach to the Sun (0.3 AU) and has brightened substantially as its nucleus vaporized. On March 12th and 13th, the comet will appear in the west, just after sunset, not far from the crescent Moon. On the 12th, Pan-STARRS will be just to left of a slim crescent Moon. On the 13th, it will be approx. 10-degrees below the Moon's crescent. On the 14th, look for the comet 20 degrees below the Moon, and perhaps a little to the right. From March 14-18 the comet will be in the WNW at dusk (gradually moving to the right from one evening to the next) & will continue to set at 7:45. However, its brightness will begin to fade & light from the waxing Moon will become more of an interference. From March 19th thru the end of the month, Pan-STARRS will still hover in the west at dusk, but will be harder to see as it fades in brightness.

February 2013 February Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands The Winter Sky continues to mesmerize us! Orion, easily recognizable by the 3 stars in his famous belt, & neighboring constellations Taurus, Gemini, Auriga, Canis Major & Minor, boast some of the brightest stars in the sky; (the Winter Hexagon: Sirius, Procyon, Capella, Aldebaran, Pollux, & Rigel). From February 2nd thru the 23rd, we'll have our BEST evening views of MERCURY this year. Look for the small, bright innermost planet, low above the west-southwestern horizon, shortly after sunset. Mercury spends the first 2 weeks of February climbing higher in the evening sky, and becomes easier to spot with each passing day. Look for Mercury on Feb. 8th, when it passes 3-degrees north of Mars and, at magnitude minus -1.0, appears some 8 times brighter than the Red Planet. Mercury's visibility continues to improve thru February 16th when it reaches eastern elongation (greatest angular distance east of the Sun). On that date, Mercury lies 18-degrees east of the Sun, & appears 11-degrees high in the WSW, 30 minutes after sunset. At magnitude minus -0.4, it is the brightest object in that area of sky. Dazzling JUPITER dominates the evening sky as darkness falls. Throughout February, the gas giant gleams brilliantly in central Taurus, about mid-way between the Pleiades star cluster (M45) & Aldebaran, the red-giant star seen as the "eye of the bull." At magnitude minus -2.2, Jupiter is the brightest object in our night sky (other than the Moon). Jupiter peaks about 80 degrees above the southern horizon, (almost directly overhead), shortly after sunset. With a small telescope or good binoculars, you can view Jupiter's 4 bright Galilean moons in their ever-changing configurations. Larger scopes will reveal Jupiter's dark equatorial belts, (one on either side of a brighter equatorial zone), the giant red spot, & other dynamic surface features. As Jupiter sinks low in the west, SATURN rises into view in the east. At mid-month, Saturn becomes an evening planet, rising shortly before midnight. It appears highest in the south as morning twilight commences. Saturn appears about 20-degrees to the east (left) of Spica, the brightest star in Virgo and, at magnitude 0.5, the Ringed Planet is somewhat brighter than the star. Notice Saturn's golden hue compared to blue-white Spica. Saturn's rings open wider than they've been since 2006, tilting at 19-degrees to our line of sight from Earth, & afford impressive views through even a small telescope. MARS has been hovering low in the west-southwestern sky after sunset. After mid-February, the Red Planet will be lost in the sunset, and we won't see it again until it reappears in the predawn skies in June. As with Mars, we also lose VENUS from view in February. You might catch a final glimpse of Venus in the first days of month, the brilliant planet rising in the east about 30 minutes ahead of the Sun. Just after mid-month, Venus vanishes in the dawn glow, returning to view after sunset in May. The Southern Cross, (Crux), is viewable EARLY morning this month. At mid-month, Crux rises high enough for viewing by 3AM. To view Crux, you'll need an unobstructed view to the southern horizon. At around 3:30AM Crux should be upright, very low on the southern horizon (nearly due South). Best viewing between 3:30 - 5AM. Look for 2 bright stars, Alpha & Beta Centauri, which "point" to the Cross to their right/west. At this time of morning, you should be able to see all the way from Polaris, (the North Star), to the bottom star in the Southern Cross, Acrux; (An important north-south navigational star-line, "Kaiwikuamo'o" ? the Backbone). Crux will be rising before midnight by the end of the month. For a February Hawaiian sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

January 2013 January Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands The Winter Sky is truly mesmerizing! Orion, easily recognizable by the 3 stars in his famous belt, & neighboring constellations Taurus, Gemini, Auriga, Canis Major & Minor, boast some of the brightest stars in the sky; (the Winter Hexagon: Sirius, Procyon, Capella, Aldebaran, Pollux, & Rigel). Dazzling JUPITER dominates the evening sky from January through May. Throughout January, the gas giant gleams brilliantly in central Taurus, nestled between the Pleiades & Hyades star clusters, just 6-degrees NW of Aldebaran, the red-giant star seen as the "eye of the bull." At magnitude minus -2.6, Jupiter is the brightest object in our night sky (other than the Moon). It shines 3 times brighter than the sky's brightest star, Sirius, which rises near the end of twilight. With a small telescope or good binoculars, you can view Jupiter's 4 bright Galilean moons in their ever-changing configurations. Larger scopes will reveal Jupiter's dark equatorial belts, (one on either side of a brighter equatorial zone), the giant red spot, & other dynamic surface features. Look for MARS, low in the southwestern sky after sunset. Mars appears ruddy-reddish, glimmering at magnitude 1.2 all month, & is fairly easy to spot, IF you have a clear & unobstructed horizon. The Red Planet moves eastward quickly, relative to the background stars of Capricornus, then glides into Aquarius on Jan. 29th. Mars maintains roughly the same altitude every night, & sets about 90 minutes after the Sun. The early morning sky offers some exquisite views of SATURN; rising by 1:45AM at mid-month, and an hour earlier at month's end. Best views come about an hour before dawn, when the Ringed Planet stands more than 30-degrees high in the south. Saturn appears in Libra, a constellation devoid of bright stars and, at magnitude 1.0, easily outshines its neighbors. Saturn's rings open wider than they've been since 2006, tilting at 19-degrees to our line of sight from Earth, & afford impressive views through even a small telescope. Stunning VENUS rises about an hour ahead of the Sun, from mid-month until month's end. The brilliant planet shines at magnitude minus -3.7, & appears like a beacon in the southeast before dawn. After disappearing in the twilight glow during February, Venus returns to view after sunset in May. MERCURY reaches superior conjunction on Jan. 18th, when it passes on the opposite side of the Sun from Earth. In early February, the tiny innermost planet returns to view in our evening sky, low in the southwest just after sunset. The Southern Cross, (Crux), is viewable (in Hawaii) just before sunrise this month. Crux rises high enough for viewing by 05:00AM. To view Crux, you'll need an unobstructed view to the southern horizon. By 5AM Crux should be upright, very low on the southern horizon (nearly due South). Best viewing between 5:30 ? 6:15AM. Look for 2 bright stars, Alpha & Beta Centauri, which "point" to the Cross to their right/west. At this time of morning, you should be able to see all the way from Polaris, (the North Star), to the bottom star in the Southern Cross, Acrux; (An important north-south navigational star-line, "Kaiwikuamo'o" ? the Backbone). For a January Hawaiian sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

December 2012 December Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Ahhh ? the Winter Sky! While I enjoy viewing & sharing the Summer sky, with Scorpius, Sagittarius, the Summer Milky Way, & the great Summer/Navigator's Triangle (still viewable thru early December!); the brilliant stars & constellations of Winter have always been my favorites! Easily recognizable Orion, & neighboring constellations Taurus, Gemini, Auriga, Canis Major & Minor, boast some of the brightest stars in the sky (the Winter Hexagon: Sirius, Procyon, Capella, Aldebaran, Pollux, & Rigel). Dazzling JUPITER reaches opposition & peak visibility on Dec. 2nd, rising opposite the setting Sun, & dominating the sky all night. The brilliant gas giant appears conspicuous above the eastern horizon soon after sunset. Throughout November, Jupiter appeared between the horns of Taurus the Bull. On Dec. 7th, Jupiter passes 5-degrees due north of Aldebaran, the red-giant star seen as the "eye of the bull." At magnitude minus -2.6, Jupiter is the brightest celestial object other than the Moon & Venus. Jupiter remains a stunning sight all month, & this year's opposition promises to be one of the best. At around midnight at mid-month, Jupiter stands about 70 degrees above the southern horizon. With a small telescope or good binoculars, you can view Jupiter's 4 bright Galilean moons in their ever-changing configurations. Larger scopes will reveal Jupiter's dark equatorial belts, (one on either side of a brighter equatorial zone), the giant red spot, & other dynamic surface features. Look for MARS, low in the southwestern sky after sunset. Mars appears ruddy-reddish, glimmering at magnitude 1.4 all month, & is easy to spot in late twilight IF you have a clear & unobstructed horizon. The Red Planet moves eastward quickly, relative to the background stars of Sagittarius, and crosses into Capricornus on Dec. 25th. Mars maintains roughly the same altitude every night, & sets about 2 hours after the Sun. The morning sky offers some excellent views of SATURN, VENUS, & MERCURY. The 3 planets appear near each other this month in the predawn sky, & appear notably striking when the Moon passes by on Dec. 11th. In early December, Saturn, Venus & Mercury form a tight group that widens slowly as the month progresses. On Dec. 1st, Saturn rises nearly 3 hours before the Sun. Shining at magnitude 0.7, it's the faintest of the three. Venus rises about 25 minutes later, BLAZING at magnitude minus -3.9. Mercury rises 40 minutes after Venus, glowing respectably at magnitude minus ? 0.3. As Saturn's distance from the Sun increases, it rises earlier each day, & telescopic views of the Ringed Planet become increasingly spectacular. Saturn's rings open wider than they've been since 2006, tilting at 19-degrees to our line of sight from Earth, & affording impressive views through even a small telescope. Mercury reaches greatest elongation on Dec. 4th when it lies 21-degrees west of the Sun, & rises almost two hours before sunrise. The tiny bright innermost planet approaches closest to Venus on Dec 9th, when the duo lie 6-degrees apart. Venus & Mercury spend the remainder of December drawing closer to the Sun, rising later each day, closer to sunrise. By Dec. 31st, Mercury rises less than 30 minutes before sunrise & is lost in the morning twilight, while ever-brilliant Venus rises 90 minutes ahead of our star. December SKYWATCH UPDATE IN PROGRESS... For a December Hawaiian sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

October 2012 October Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Our Autumn skies are beautiful! The Summer Triangle is still viewable this month, midway up in the northwestern sky at sunset. This triangle is made up of three bright stars from three different constellations: ALTAIR, in Aquila the Eagle; VEGA, in Lyra the Harp; & DENEB, in Cygnus the Swan. And we now have Pegasus, Perseus, Andromeda (with the great Andromeda galaxy), & others joining the scene. Look for MARS about 15-degrees above the western horizon at dusk. The Red Planet moves quickly eastward relative to the background stars of Scorpius, and will appear within 4 degrees of the red super-giant star Antares, (the "heart" of the scorpion), from Oct. 15th ? 23rd. "Antares" derives from Greek words meaning "rival of Mars," a reference to the similar reddish color of these objects. View through binoculars to compare their ruddy hues. Antares, at 1.03 magnitude, shines a bit brighter than Mars, currently at 1.23 magnitude. On the 17th, the waxing crescent Moon will be below Mars & Antares, and then above the two on the 18th. It will be challenging to spot MERCURY this month, even though it reaches eastern elongation on the 26th. The tiny innermost planet hugs the western sky at dusk. Look west at about 6:40PM for a bright dot, (magnitude minus-0.15 at mid-month), about 5-degrees above the western horizon. You'll have less than a half hour to spot Mercury, since it sets at 7PM throughout the month. On Oct. 16th, you'll find Mercury less than one degree below a tiny crescent Moon. Look for stunning JUPITER climbing the eastern sky during late evenings. The giant planet lies between the horns of Taurus, fairly close to Aldebaran, the red-giant star which is the eye of the Bull. Jupiter rises around 10:15PM in early October, and 2 hours earlier by month's end. At magnitude minus -2.6 it dominates the late night & early morning sky. The best views thru a telescope come when Jupiter lies high in the sky during the early morning hours. With a small telescope or good binoculars, you can view Jupiter's 4 bright Galilean moons in their ever-changing configurations. Larger scopes will reveal Jupiter's dark equatorial belts, (one on either side of a brighter equatorial zone), the giant red spot, & other dynamic surface features. If you're an earlier riser, be sure to experience Orion, Gemini, Leo, Auriga, Canis Major, & other bold constellations which grace our predawn sky. As Jupiter climbs high in the south before dawn, an even brighter point of light, dazzling VENUS, rises to join the scene. Venus rises in the east around 3:30AM at the start of October, and at 4:15AM at the end of the month (still 90-minutes before twilight commences). Venus moves eastward against the background stars of Leo and crosses into Virgo on the 23rd. Blazing just over minus -4 magnitude all month, Venus is the brightest object in the sky except for the Sun & Moon. October SKYWATCH UPDATE IN PROGRESS... For an October Hawaiian sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

Peaks before dawn, Oct.21 Orionid Meteor Shower Hawaiian Island Viewing The Orionid meteor shower will peak this weekend; greatest activity expected before dawn on October 21st. Keep watch for these fast-streaking Orionids between midnight & dawn on the mornings of Oct. 20, 21, & 22. We might expect to see 25-30 or more meteors ("shooting stars") per hour during this peak, from a dark, clear viewing site. The Orionids typically produce swift, bright meteors, among the fastest of all shower meteors, striking Earth's upper atmosphere at 148,000 mph. Orionid meteors appear to originate or "radiate" from the constellation Orion, "the Hunter," which will be rising in the east at around midnight(HST). Activity increases during the early morning hours when Orion is overhead & the Earth turns sky-watchers into the oncoming stream of comet debris. Find a location with a good view of the full sky; away from distracting street lights or house lights. You do not need a telescope or binoculars to view this or any other meteor shower. Just get yourself to the darkest location you can find, relax in a comfortable recliner chair, perhaps with a blanket & beverage, & enjoy the show! Meteor showers occur when the Earth passes through the path of a comet. The bits of debris left behind by the comets, most no larger than a grain of sand, create a spectacular light show as they enter the Earth's atmosphere. The Orionids occur every October as we pass through debris left over by Halley's Comet, which last visited our region of the Solar System in 1986. Halley's comet returns to orbit the Sun approximately every 76 years. (Due back in 2061).

September 2012 September Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands September marks the transition from Summer to Autumn skies. The Autumnal Equinox occurs on Sept. 22nd here in Hawaii. This is the moment when the Sun crosses the celestial equator, marking the change in seasons from summer to fall. On the day of the equinox, the Sun rises exactly in the East, & sets exactly in the West, & periods of day & night are equal (close to 12 hours each). After the equinox, the Sun will appear lower & lower in the sky & the days will grow shorter. Currently: glorious bands of Milky Way stars illuminate our dark Hawaiian sky with a rich, "milky" haze. High in the northern sky, the three bright stars of the Summer Triangle are easy to spot: ALTAIR, in Aquila the Eagle; VEGA, in Lyra the Harp; & DENEB, in Cygnus the Swan. Scorpius, the giant Scorpion, & Sagittarius, the Archer, display boldly toward the southwest, as Andromeda, with the great Andromeda galaxy, rises from the east. SATURN lies about 10-degrees high in the west-southwest, an hour after sunset, in early September. The ringed planet appears in the constellation Virgo, just a few degrees above (NE) of Spica, Virgo's brightest star. Saturn, at magnitude 0.77, and Spica, (mag.0.96), are the 2 brightest points of light in this part of the sky. Notice Saturn's golden hue, compared to blue-white Spica. With each passing day, the star & planet sink lower in the sky. By the end of the month, Spica will be gone, & Saturn will set a half hour after dusk. Saturn will pass behind the Sun in late October & return to view before dawn a few weeks later. In early September Saturn's glorious ring system tilts 14-degrees to our line of sight from Earth. When Saturn returns to view in November, the rings will tilt 18-degrees & appear even more spectacular. MARS appears approximately 10-degrees to the left (east) of Saturn early in the month, crossing from Virgo into Libra on Sept. 3rd. The Red Planet, at magnitude 1.2, is noticeably fainter than Saturn, and shines with a distinctive ruddy glow. Mars moves rapidly eastward, traveling thru most of Libra this month, & fading in brightness. Look for the waxing crescent Moon just below Mars on Sept. 18th, and just above Mars on Sept. 19th. VENUS and JUPITER, the brightest points of light in the sky, continue to dazzle in the early hours of predawn. Throughout the month, look east from 3:30AM thru daybreak (around 5:15AM). VENUS, at magnitude minus -4.3, blazes like a beacon, low in the eastern sky. On Sept. 12th, look for a stunning alignment: Venus, in Cancer, 3-degrees to the right (SW) of the Beehive star cluster (M44), with a crescent Moon 4-degrees to the right (SW) of Venus. (The Beehive shines at 4th magnitude, & it helps to have binoculars to spot it). Look for brilliant JUPITER high above Venus, shining at magnitude minus -2.3. Jupiter, in Taurus, appears less than 10-degrees NE of the Hyades star cluster all month. At the start of September, Jupiter rises at midnight and is nearly halfway up in the east when Venus rises at 3:30AM. By the end of the month, Jupiter rises by 10:20PM, and is about 2/3 of the way up in the east by the time Venus rises at 3:30AM. With a small telescope or good binoculars, you can view Jupiter's 4 bright Galilean moons in their ever-changing configurations. Larger scopes will reveal Jupiter's dark equatorial belts, (one on either side of a brighter equatorial zone), the giant red spot, & other dynamic surface features. For a September Hawaiian sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

August 2012 August Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Behold our spectacular summer skies! Glorious bands of Milky Way stars illuminate our dark Hawaiian sky with a rich, "milky" haze. High in the northern sky, the three bright stars of the Summer Triangle are easy to spot: ALTAIR, in Aquila the Eagle; VEGA, in Lyra the Harp; & DENEB, in Cygnus the Swan. Scorpius, the giant Scorpion, & Sagittarius, the Archer, display boldly toward the south. SATURN shines in the western evening sky throughout August. The ringed planet appears in the constellation Virgo the Maiden, just a few degrees NE of Spica, Virgo's brightest star. Notice Saturn's golden hue, compared to blue-white Spica. Saturn's rings open wider than they've been since 2007, tilting at 14 degrees to our line of sight from Earth, & affording impressive views through even a small telescope. You might be able see the Cassini Division, a dark gap that separates the outer A ring from the broader & brighter B ring. Small telescopes also reveal some of Saturn's moons, including 8th magnitude Titan, the biggest & brightest. Saturn & Spica form a lovely triangle with MARS this month. Mars appears farthest to the west, but drifts steadily eastward against the background stars of Virgo. On Aug. 7th, the 3 form a neat equilateral triangle, 4 degrees on each side. Watch each night as Mars moves closer to Spica & Saturn, then passes between them on Aug. 13 & 14; when the three form a nearly straight line. Mars then quickly appears to bypass Saturn and, by August 31st, trails 10 degrees behind Saturn & Spica, on its way to glide into Libra on September 3rd. The trio then sets within two hours of the Sun. Note Mars' distinct orange-red hue, in contrast to blue-white Spica, and the subtle golden glow of Saturn. VENUS and JUPITER, the brightest points of light in the sky, are stunning together in the early morning sky, against the background stars of Taurus, the Bull.* On Aug. 1st, shimmering Jupiter, (mag. minus -1.9), rises at 2AM, with a much brighter Venus, (mag minus -4.3), rising about an hour later. At mid-month, MERCURY joins this splendid morning scene, as both Venus & Mercury, reach elongation, their greatest angular distances west of the Sun. On August 15th, look for the tiny bright (mag. 0.2) innermost planet to rise at 5AM, about an hour before the Sun, in Cancer the Crab. *At around this time, Venus crosses from Taurus into Gemini, & closes the month 9-degrees south of Pollux, the Twins' brightest star. AUGUST SKYWATCH UPDATE IN PROGRESS... For an August Hawaiian sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

July 2012 July Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Behold our spectacular summer skies! Glorious bands of Milky Way stars illuminate our dark Hawaiian sky with a rich, "milky" haze. The stars & constellations of the Summer Triangle (Navigator's Triangle) grace the northern sky (Altair, in Aquila the Eagle; Vega, in Lyra the Harp; & Deneb, in Cygnus the Swan), while Scorpius, the giant Scorpion, & Sagittarius, the Archer, display boldly toward the south. In late June & early July we can spot MERCURY, naked-eye viewable, low above the western horizon shortly after the Sun sets. Shining at magnitude 0.4, the tiny innermost planet "pops" out of the twilight glow just as the sky starts to darken. Although Mercury reaches eastern elongation on June 30th, (its greatest angular distance east of the Sun), it remains conspicuous in early July. On July 1st, look for Mercury in the west-northwest, around 8PM, approx. 10 degrees above the western horizon. It doesn't set until an hour later. SATURN shines in the western evening sky throughout July. The ringed planet appears in the constellation Virgo, the Maiden, just a few degrees NE of Spica, Virgo's brightest star. At magnitude 0.7, Saturn appears slightly but noticeably brighter than Spica. Notice Saturn's golden hue, compared to blue-white Spica. Saturn's rings open wider than they've been since 2007, tilting at 13 degrees to our line of sight from Earth, & affording impressive views through even a small telescope. You might be able see the Cassini Division, a dark gap that separates the outer A ring from the broader & brighter B ring. Small telescopes also reveal some of Saturn's moons, including 8th magnitude Titan, the biggest & brightest. Saturn & Spica form a lovely triangle with MARS this month. Mars appears farthest to the west, but drifts steadily eastward against the background stars of Virgo, & forms the bottom point of a tight triangle for the final week of July. On the 24th, the scene is enhanced by the presence of a waxing crescent Moon, perhaps the finest grouping in this month's evening sky. Note Mars' distinct orange-red hue, in contrast to blue-white Spica, and the subtle golden glow of Saturn. VENUS and JUPITER, the brightest points of light in the sky, are stunning together in the early morning predawn sky, against the background stars of Taurus, the Bull. On July 1st, Venus (mag minus -4.4) and Jupiter (mag. minus -2.0) stand 4.8 degrees apart, against a backdrop that includes the bright Pleiades & Hyades star clusters. (Jupiter rises first & is about 4 degrees above much brighter Venus). Although the two planets drift apart as July progresses, & shift positions relative to the background stars, the morning scene remains quite splendid. In mid-July a beautiful waning crescent Moon joins the pair and, on July 15th, forms a spectacular triangle with the two brilliant planets. During the first 3 weeks of July, the Southern Cross, (Crux), is viewable just after sunset, low on the Southern Horizon. To view Crux, you'll need an unobstructed view to the southern horizon. Look for 2 bright stars, Alpha & Beta Centauri, which "point" to the Cross to their right/west. As the sky darkens, you should be able to see all the way from Polaris, (the North Star), to the bottom star in the Southern Cross, Acrux. For a July Hawaiian sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

June 5th, Noon-6:45PM 2012 Transit Of Venus Hawaiian Islands Viewing When Venus passes directly between Earth and the Sun, we see the distant planet as a small dot gliding slowly across the face of the Sun. Historically, this rare alignment is how we measured the size of our solar system. The next transit of Venus occurs June 5, 2012, & can be viewed in its entirety only from Hawaii, Alaska, & parts of Australia. This will be the last transit of Venus to occur in your lifetime.? (The next one in 2117 ? 105 years from now!). Hawaii transit viewing times are from approx. noon until 6:45PM. The sun sets on Kauai at 7:20. Contact roz@rozhome.com for info on SAFE VIEWING activities on Kauai. I emphasize SAFE viewing because, to observe the transit of Venus directly, you must protect your eyes at all times with proper solar filters. However, do not let the requisite warnings scare you away from witnessing this rare spectacle. You CAN experience the transit of Venus safely, provided you use proper eye protection. At all of our venues, we will be using solar filters on our telescopes, and/or using ?indirect? viewing techniques (such as ?pinhole projectors?). We will have ?Eclipse Shades? (aka: solar shades) available for purchase as well. Please review important eye-safety warnings at the Transit of Venus website below. Visit (transitofvenus.org)

June 3/4 Midnight till 2:00AM (HST) Partial Lunar Eclipse Hawaiian Islands Viewing (lovebigisland.com) There will be a partial lunar eclipse, viewable from Hawaii, starting at around 11:58PM (HST)on Sunday night, June 3rd, & ending at around 2:00AM on Monday morning (June 4th). At the moment of greatest eclipse, around 1AM, approx. 1/3 of the Moon will be eclipsed by Earth's shadow. For eclipse viewing times from other locations visit: earthsky.org

May 2012 May Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Our spring skies provide fascinating opportunities for stargazing. As the sky starts to darken, VENUS appears as a brilliant "evening star." (Hoku Kauahiahi). At magnitude minus -4.5, it is spectacular in the western sky! Venus spends the month transiting across Taurus the Bull, & will be visible until around 9PM during most of May. Look for a slim crescent Moon next to Venus on May 22nd, a lovely pairing. Venus is now heading back toward the Sun, lining up for a rare astronomical event: On June 5th, Venus will pass between the Earth & Sun, and will appear to transit across the face of the Sun. (More details on this special event coming soon). MARS is high in the South at sunset, dominating the background stars of its host constellation, Leo, the Lion. At the beginning of May, the Red Planet lies 6 degrees east of Regulus, Leo's brightest star. At magnitude 0.0, Mars shines 3.6 times brighter & appears ruddy red next to blue-white Regulus. Mars moves southeast relative to the background stars during May, & ends the month nearly 15 degrees from Regulus. By then it will have dimmed noticeably to mag 0.5 and will set at around 1:30AM. SATURN reached opposition & peak visibility in April, and it remains a stunning sight through any telescope in May. Saturn appears in the constellation Virgo, the Maiden, just 5 degrees NE of Spica, Virgo's brightest star. At magnitude 0.7, Saturn appears slightly but noticeably brighter than Spica. Notice Saturn's golden hue, compared to blue-white Spica. Saturn's rings open wider than they've been since 2007, tilting at 13 degrees to our line of sight from Earth, & affording impressive views through even a small telescope. You might be able see the Cassini Division, a dark gap that separates the outer A ring from the broader & brighter B ring. Small telescopes also reveal some of Saturn's moons, including 8th magnitude Titan, the biggest & brightest. . MERCURY reached max. western elongation April 18th, and is now headed back toward the Sun. During the first week in May, look for Mercury in the eastern sky around 4:30AM, very low on the horizon. The Southern Cross, (Crux), rises high enough for viewing by 9:30PM at the start of May, and by 8PM at months end. To view Crux, you'll need an unobstructed view to the southern horizon. About an hour after Crux rises, look for 2 bright stars, Alpha & Beta Centauri, which "point" to the Cross to their right/west. At this time of evening, you should be able to see all the way from Polaris, (the North Star), to the bottom star in the Southern Cross, Acrux. For a May Hawaiian sky map visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org)

April 2012 April Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands You might want to choose JUPITER, as your first target of the evening. In early April, Jupiter shines brilliantly at magnitude minus-2.1, about 15 degrees above the western horizon, one hour after sunset. Jupiter, currently in Aries, appears lower in the western sky with each passing night and, by April 15th, the gas giant lies only 5 degrees above the western horizon at sunset. On April 22nd, look for a slim crescent Moon just a few degrees above the planet in the bright twilight. Jupiter disappears from view by the end of the month. Stunning VENUS continues to bedazzle us this month. At magnitude minus -4.5, Earth's planetary "neighbor" shines far brighter than any other point of light in the sky. Venus shimmers high in the west after sunset. It reached eastern elongation (its greatest angular distance east of the Sun) in late March. Venus will be visible until 10PM throughout April, as it traverses eastward across Taurus, the Bull. MARS is high in the East at sunset, dominating the background stars of its host constellation, Leo, the Lion. On April 15th, Mars appears within 4 deg. of Regulus and, at magnitude minus -0.4, the Red Planet easily outshines Leo's brightest star. Notice the color contrast between orange-red Mars & blue-white Regulus. A telescopic view reveals Mars' north polar ice cap, and more subtle features, which show up as contrasting shades of orange & brown. Mars will be viewable most of the night, setting after 3:30AM throughout the month. SATURN reaches opposition and peak visibility this month. The ringed planet lies opposite the Sun in our sky on the 15th, which means it rises at sunset & will be visible until sunrise. Saturn lies at its closest to Earth at opposition & so appears brightest; peaking at magnitude 0.2. Saturn appears in the constellation Virgo, the Maiden, just 5 degrees NE of Spica, Virgo's brightest star. Notice Saturn's golden hue, compared to blue-white Spica. Saturn's rings open wider than they've been since 2007, tilting at 14 degrees to our line of sight from Earth, & affording impressive views through even a small telescope. You might be able see the Cassini Division, a dark gap that separates the outer A ring from the broader & brighter B ring. Small telescopes also reveal some of Saturn's moons, including 8th magnitude Titan, the biggest & brightest. MERCURY reaches greatest elongation April 18, when it lies 27 degrees west of the Sun. The tiny innermost planet shines brightly at magnitude 0.3, however it's somewhat difficult to spot in the Spring morning sky. During the 2nd & 3rd week of April, look for Mercury in the eastern sky before sunrise (around 5AM), very low on the horizon. Just before sunrise on April 18th, look for Mercury 8 degrees south of the Moon. The Southern Cross, (Crux), rises high enough for viewing by 11:30 PM at the start of April, and by 10 PM at months end. To view Crux, you'll need an unobstructed view to the southern horizon. About an hour after Crux rises, look for 2 bright stars, Alpha & Beta Centauri, which "point" to the Cross to their right/west. At this time of evening, you should be able to see all the way from Polaris, (the North Star), to the bottom star in the Southern Cross, Acrux. For an April Hawaiian sky map visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org)

April 21 - 22 Lyrid Meteor Shower Hawaiian Island Viewing The Lyrid meteor shower peaks overnight from Saturday April 21st thru Sunday the 22nd, with the best observing between midnight & dawn on Sunday morning the 22nd. With no Moon in the sky, viewing conditions should be excellent! Under a clear, dark sky, observers can expect to see about 20 meteors/hour at the peak. The meteors appear to radiate from the constellation Lyra, just to the right of Vega, the 5th brightest star in our sky. Lyra (the Lyre or Harp), appears in the northeastern sky in the late evening, & passes nearly over-head shortly before dawn. It's from the constellation Lyra that the Lyrid meteor shower takes its name. You DO NOT need a telescope or binoculars to see this, or any meteor shower. Just make sure you are warm & comfortable, (a lounge chair with blankets & a thermos with a hot beverage would be great), find a dark spot, & scan the sky for streaks of light! Meteor showers occur when the Earth passes thru the path of a comet. The tiny bits of debris left behind by comets, most no larger than a grain of sand, create a spectacular light show as they enter (& burn up) in Earth's atmosphere. The parent comet of the Lyrids is known as C/1861 Thatcher. According to NASA scientists, the Lyrids have been observed in the night sky during mid-April for at least 2,500 years.

March 2012 March Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands The brightest stars & constellations of Winter continue to bedazzle us this month, while the planets put on quite the show! Orion & his faithful hunting dogs, (Canis Major & Minor), as well as Taurus, Gemini, Leo, & the other great constellations of Winter, display boldly in our evening skies. Stunning VENUS glows brilliantly, high in the southwest just after sunset. Our "sister planet" shines far brighter than any other point of light in the sky. Venus appears higher in the sky each night, as it approaches elongation on March 27th, its greatest angular distance (46 degrees) east of the Sun. On March 4th Venus crosses from eastern Pisces into Aries, & will appear 9-degrees due west of JUPITER, the second brightest dot in the sky. Venus, blazing at magnitude minus -4.4, and Jupiter, a brilliant mag. minus -2.1, shine together in the western sky at dusk. The gap between our 2 brightest planets continues to narrow each night. Between March 11th & 15th they will appear just 3-degrees apart: "The conjunction of the year." The best views of the Venus-Jupiter conjunction will come with naked eyes, or through binoculars. During this period the stunning pair stand 30-degrees above the western horizon an hour after sunset, and set at around 10PM. With a small telescope or good binoculars, you can view Jupiter's 4 bright Galilean moons in their ever-changing configurations. Larger scopes will reveal Jupiter's dark equatorial belts, (one on either side of a brighter equatorial zone), the giant red spot, & other dynamic surface features. MARS reaches opposition this month (when it lies opposite the Sun in our sky). The Red Planet rises at dusk, sets at dawn, & remains visible all night long! Mars approaches closer to Earth than it has in the past two years, (a "mere" 62.6 million miles), providing exquisite views for observers. It shines with a ruddy glow, at magnitude minus -1.2, among the background stars of Leo. Mars ends the month about 5-degrees from Regulus, Leo's brightest star (the "heart" of the lion), & appears approx. 10 times brighter. During the first week of March, MERCURY is viewable low in the west just after sunset. The tiny innermost planet shines at magnitude minus -0.4, easily bright enough to pierce the twilight glow. Mercury reaches greatest eastern elongation on March 5, when it lies 18-deg. east of the Sun. Around this date, look for Mercury about 14-deg. above the western horizon, 30-minutes after sunset. SATURN rises shortly before 9PM in mid-March. It lies approx 6-degrees northeast of Spica, Virgo's brightest star. At magnitude 0.4, the planet outshines the star by 75 percent. Notice Saturn's golden hue, compared to blue-white Spica. Saturn will brighten considerably this month as it approaches its April opposition. Saturn's spectacular ring system currently tilts 15-degrees to our line of sight from Earth. This wide angle affords magnificent telescopic views. The Southern Cross, (Crux), rises high enough for viewing by 01:00AM at the start of March, and by 11:30PM at months end. To view Crux, you'll need an unobstructed view to the southern horizon. About an hour after Crux rises, look for 2 bright stars, Alpha & Beta Centauri, which "point" to the Cross to their right/west. At that time you should be able to see all the way from Polaris, (the North Star), to the bottom star in the Southern Cross, Acrux. For a March Hawaiian sky map visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org)

February 2012 February Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Behold our glorious Winter Sky! Winter boasts the brightest stars of any season. Orion & his faithful hunting dogs, (Canis Major & Minor), as well as Taurus, Gemini, Leo, & the other great constellations of Winter, display boldly in our evening skies. Stunning VENUS glows brilliantly, high in the southwest just after sunset. At magnitude minus -4.0, our "sister planet" shines far brighter than any other point of light in the sky. Each night, Venus will appear a bit higher in the sky & set later. By the end of the month, Venus will be 40-degrees above the Western horizon at sunset, gleam at magnitude minus -4.3, & remain visible until 9:45PM. Look for a lovely pairing of Venus & a slender crescent Moon on Feb. 25th. Hard to miss JUPITER, the gas giant blazing at magnitude minus -2.3, high overhead at sunset. Jupiter glows twice as bright as any other point of light in the sky, except Venus. The 2 brightest planets appear to draw closer to one another with each passing night. (By Feb. 29th, Venus & Jupiter will appear less than 10-degrees apart). With a small telescope or good binoculars, you can view Jupiter's 4 bright Galilean moons in their ever-changing configurations. Galileo first saw them nearly 400 years ago with a 1.5-inch telescope of lower quality than any available today. Larger scopes will reveal Jupiter's dark equatorial belts, (one on either side of a brighter equatorial zone), the giant red spot, & other dynamic surface features. MARS rises in the east shortly before 9PM at the beginning of February, & just a few minutes after the Sun sets at month's end. The Red Planet nearly doubles in brightness this month, blazing at minus -1.2 magnitude by the beginning of March (when it reaches opposition). It's the brightest point of light in Leo, & shines with a ruddy glow, just SW of Denebola, "the tail of the Lion." Look for the waning gibbous Moon next to Mars on the night of Feb. 9-10. Early in the month, SATURN rises in the east at midnight & shines at magnitude 0.5. The Ringed Planet rises by 10PM at month's end. Look for Saturn just 7-degrees ENE of Spica, Virgo's brightest star. Saturn shines with a slightly brighter, golden hue compared to blue-white Spica. At 6AM, Saturn & Spica stand side-by-side, high in the southwest, with Saturn on the left. Saturn's spectacular ring system currently tilts 15-degrees to our line of sight from Earth. This wide angle affords magnificent telescopic views. Look for the waning gibbous Moon next to Saturn on the night of Feb. 11-12. MERCURY becomes visible at dusk during the last 10 days of the month. A good night to look for the tiny innermost planet is Feb. 22nd, when a thin crescent Moon lies 5-degrees to its right. Mercury then shines at magnitude minus -1.3 & shows up easily in the twilight, a half-hour after sunset. The pair sets about an hour after the Sun. During the next week, Mercury climbs higher but dims slightly. By the 29th, look for it low in the west around 7:15PM, about 6-degrees above the western horizon. The Southern Cross, (Crux), rises by 1:40AM at the start of February, and by 11:40PM at the end. To view Crux, you'll need an unobstructed view to the southern horizon. About an hour after Crux rises, look for 2 bright stars, Alpha & Beta Centauri, which "point" to the Cross to their right/west. At that time of early morning, you should be able to see all the way from Polaris, (the North Star), to the bottom star in the Southern Cross, Acrux. For a February Hawaiian sky map & sky watch column visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

January 2012 January Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Behold our fabulous Winter Sky! Orion & his faithful hunting dogs, (Canis Major & Minor), as well as Taurus, Gemini, Pegasus, & the other great constellations & bright stars of Winter, display boldly in our evening skies. Stunning VENUS glows brilliantly high in the southwestern sky just after sunset. At magnitude minus -4.0, our "sister planet" shines far brighter than any other point of light in the sky. Venus appears in the constellation Capricornus the Sea Goat, until January 11th, when it enters neighboring Aquarius the Water-bearer. Look for a slender crescent Moon next to Venus on Jan. 25th & 26th; a lovely pairing for naked eyes & thru binoculars. Each night at sunset, Venus will appear a bit higher in the sky and, by the end of the month, it will not set until 9:15 PM. Hard to miss JUPITER, the gas giant blazing at magnitude minus -2.5, high overhead at sunset. Jupiter glows twice as bright as any other point of light in the sky, except Venus. In early January, Jupiter crosses the border from Aries the Ram into Pisces the Fish, & appears conspicuous among the relatively dim background stars of both these constellations. Look for the waxing crescent Moon close to Jupiter on Jan. 29th. With a small telescope or good binoculars, you can view Jupiter's 4 bright Galilean moons in their ever-changing configurations. Galileo first saw them nearly 400 years ago with a 1.5-inch telescope of lower quality than any available today. Larger scopes will reveal Jupiter's dark equatorial belts, (one on either side of a brighter equatorial zone), the giant red spot, & other dynamic surface features. MARS returns to our evening sky in January. The Red Planet rises in the east by 11:30PM early in the month, and by 9:30PM at months end. Mars nearly doubles in brightness this month, from magnitude 0.2 to magnitude minus -0.5, & appears prominent in the eastern sky. Notice the orange-red glow of the planet, in stark contrast to the relatively colorless stars that surround it in southern Leo. By the end of January, look for Mars high in the western sky as day breaks. Early in the month, SATURN rises in the east by 2AM & shines at magnitude 0.6. At months end, Saturn will rise by midnight. Look for Saturn just 7 degrees ENE of Spica, Virgo's brightest star. Saturn shines with a slightly brighter, golden hue compared to blue-white Spica. By 5AM, Saturn & Spica stand side by side, high in the southern sky, with Saturn on the left. A last quarter Moon lies below this pair on the morning of January 16. Saturn's spectacular ring system currently tilts 15-degrees to our line of sight from Earth. This wide angle affords magnificent telescopic views. MERCURY, currently in retrograde (heading back toward the Sun), is visible in the morning sky during the first week of January. Mercury sinks toward the horizon with each passing morning, & by mid-month, the tiny innermost planet is washed out by the light of the rising Sun. Early risers will be treated to a SPECTACULAR MORNING SKY! At around 6AM, look for the Southern Cross (Crux), very low in the south. To view Crux, you'll need an unobstructed view to the southern horizon. Look for 2 bright stars, Alpha & Beta Centauri, which "point" to the Roman-style cross to their right/west. At that time of morning, you should be able to see all the way from Polaris, (the North Star), to the bottom star in the Southern Cross, Acrux. JANUARY SKYWATCH UPDATE IN PROGRESS... For a January Hawaiian sky map & sky watch column visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

December 2011 December Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Behold our fabulous Winter Sky! It's wonderful to experience Orion & his faithful hunting dogs, (Canis Major & Minor), as well as Taurus, Gemini, Pegasus, & the other great constellations of Winter, returning to our night skies. Stunning VENUS glows brilliantly in the southwestern sky just after sunset. At magnitude minus -3.9, our "sister planet" shines far brighter than any other point of light in the sky. Venus appears in the constellation Sagittarius, until Dec. 20th when it crosses over into Capricornus. On the 26th, look for a slender crescent Moon to the right of Venus, a lovely pairing for naked eyes & thru binoculars. By the end of the month, Venus will set at around 8:30 PM. JUPITER, blazing at magnitude minus -2.7, rules the evening sky after Venus sets. Look for the brilliant gas giant high in the southeast just after sunset, among the relatively dim background stars of Aries & Pisces. By the end of December, Jupiter will be high overhead at dusk, & will set by 2AM. With a small telescope or good binoculars, you can view Jupiter's 4 bright Galilean moons in their ever-changing configurations. Galileo first saw them nearly 400 years ago with a 1.5-inch telescope of lower quality than any available today. Larger scopes will reveal Jupiter's dark equatorial belts, (one on either side of a brighter equatorial zone), the giant red spot, & other dynamic surface features. MARS rises in the east before midnight & appears very high in the southern sky at daybreak. Mars brightens considerably this month, (to magnitude 0.2), as it approaches peak visibility early in 2012. Look for the orange-red glow of the planet, in stark contrast to the relatively colorless stars that surround it in southern Leo. SATURN appears in our morning sky, positioned well above the southeastern horizon before dawn. Early in the month, the ringed planet rises in east at 4AM & shines at magnitude 0.7, bright enough to pierce the dawn glow. By months end, Saturn rises at 2AM & is halfway up in the east at dawn. Look for Saturn just 5 degrees northeast of Spica, Virgo's brightest star. Golden Saturn shines slightly brighter than blue-white Spica. Saturn's spectacular ring system currently tilts 9-degrees to our line of sight from Earth. This wide angle affords magnificent telescopic views. MERCURY will be viewable in our morning sky from Dec. 15th onward. Look for the tiny innermost planet, 6 degrees high in the southeast, at around 6AM, an hour before sunrise. Mercury reaches western elongation (it's greatest distance west of the Sun) on Dec. 22nd, when it shines at magnitude minus -0.4. On this same morning, Mercury lies 7 deg. to the upper left of 1st magnitude Antares (red super-giant which is the "heart" of Scorpius); while a crescent Moon stands to the planet's upper right. The Southern Cross (Crux) returns to our Hawaiian morning sky. On Dec. 15th, the Cross rises at 5AM & you'll have an hour to view it before daybreak. By the end of December, it rises at 4AM, two hours prior to dawn. To view Crux, you'll need an unobstructed view to the southern horizon. Acrux, the bottom star of the Cross, rises only about six degrees above the horizon at it highest point. Dec.21st (HST) marks the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year for the northern hemisphere, when the Sun reaches its maximum distance south of the celestial equator. In Hawaii, we'll have just under 11 hours between sunrise & sunset. For a December Hawaiian sky map & sky watch column visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

Dec. 10th; Totality begins 04:06 HST TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE Viewable from: Hawaiian Islands, Western North America, Austrailia, Asia There will be a total lunar eclipse, EARLY on Saturday morning, Dec. 10th, when the Full Moon passes deep into Earth's shadow. The entire eclipse sequence will be viewable from western North America & across the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii, Australia & Asia. As seen from the Hawaiian Islands, the Moon will be in TOTAL ECLIPSE for 45 minutes starting at 04:06AM HST (06:06AM PST). Note that you can view the eclipse, without a scope or binocs, from anywhere in the islands where you are able to see the Moon. (During the period of Totality, the Moon will be approx. 30 degrees above the western horizon). My suggestion for novice eclipse watchers is to go outside by around 3:45AM (early on SATURDAY morning). At this time, most of the Moon will be eclipsed in Earth?s shadow. If find yourself under cloud cover, then I suggest you move/drive to another location where the Moon is NOT obscured, and watch as the Moon becomes completely eclipsed in Earth?s shadow & turns RED. (TOTALITY begins at: 4:06AM. You'll have approx. 45 minutes to catch a glimpse of the eclipsed red Moon). For more details, including eclipse viewing times, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium & select the Dec. Sky Column page. www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org). Also feel free to send me your email address & I will forward sky maps & other eclipse viewing data. roz@rozhome.com

KEASA DECEMBER STARWATCH CANCELED! The KEASA public starwatch, originally scheduled for Dec. 16th at Kaumakani, has been CANCELED! Our next public starwatch will be held on January 14, 2012. Please visit the KEASA website for more details, including a calendar of 2012 monthly starwatch events & a map with driving directions to the Kaumakani viewing site - http://www.keasa.org

November 2011 November Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands As we bid ALOHA to the giant Scorpion (Scorpius is now setting just after the Sun), Orion the Hunter appears in our evening skies, with his great & small dogs, Canis Major & Canis Minor. Observe some other great Winter constellations in the area, such as: Taurus, the Bull; Gemini, the Twins: Pegasus, the Winged Horse: & Auriga, the Charioteer. Dazzling JUPITER continues to dominate the night sky. Blazing at magnitude minus -2.9, only the Moon & Venus glow brighter. The Gas Giant reached opposition & peak visibility in late October, & continues to provide excellent opportunities for observation. Through a small telescope you might observe features such as Jupiter's dark equatorial belts, colorful cloud bands, & Great Red Spot. Observe Jupiter's 4 bright Galilean moons in their ever-changing configurations. Galileo first saw them nearly 400 years ago with a 1.5-inch telescope of lower quality than any available today. Hard to miss Jupiter, in the eastern sky at dusk, near the border between Aries & Pisces. This month we'll have Jupiter in our sky nearly all night long. Stunning VENUS glows brilliantly in the southwestern sky just after sunset. At magnitude minus -3.9, our sister planet shines far brighter than any other point of light it the sky. MERCURY joins Venus at dusk, & hangs just 2 degrees below (SW) Venus in the first 2 weeks of November. You'll need a clear sky & unobstructed view of the southwestern horizon to see the tiny innermost planet which, at magnitude minus-0.3, pales in comparison to its planetary neighbor. The 2 planets will remain within a few degrees of each other through the first half of November, traveling thru the constellation Scorpius, the Scorpion. (Look for 1st magnitude Antares, the "heart" of the Scorpion, to join the pair on Nov. 9th & 10th). They will appear higher in the SW sky at dusk each night, & will set a little later. Mercury reaches eastern elongation on Nov. 14th (greatest angular distance east of the Sun = 23 deg.); then reverses direction & heads back toward the Sun. Venus continues to climb higher, & becomes more prominent in the 2nd half of the month. On Nov. 26th, a waxing crescent Moon passes 3 deg. from Venus; a lovely photo op! MARS rises in the east around 1:15AM at the start of November, & by 12:30AM at months end. The red planet shines at magnitude 1.0 (as bright as a bright star), & has a pale orange glow. Mars continues to climb higher before dawn throughout the month. It appears among the background stars of southern Leo and, on Nov. 10th, passes 1.4 deg. north of Regulus, the Lion's brightest star, Note the color contrast between ruddy Mars & blue-white Regulus. SATURN returns to our predawn sky this month. Early in the month it rises in the east at 5:30AM & shines at magnitude 0.75, bright enough to pierce the dawn glow. The ringed planet will appear very low in the east-southeast, & you'll have about 30 minutes to spot it before daybreak. By the end of November, Saturn rises at 3:45AM, & stands 30+ deg. above the eastern horizon at daybreak. Look for Saturn just 5 deg. from Spica, Virgo's brightest star. Golden Saturn shines slightly brighter than blue-white Spica. Saturn's spectacular ring system currently tilts 14-degrees to our line of sight from Earth, their largest tilt in more than 4 years. This wide angle affords magnificent telescopic views. For a November Hawaiian sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

October 2011 October Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Dazzling JUPITER certainly lives up to its nickname this month: "The King of Planets." The giant planet glows at magnitude minus -2.9, far brighter than any point of light in the night sky. Jupiter reigns from sunset to sunrise, as it reaches opposition & peak visibility the night of October 28/29. Opposition marks the planet's closest approach to Earth, a "mere" 369 MILLION miles. Jupiter's proximity to Earth & large physical size render it visually stunning through any telescope. A small telescope or good binoculars will reveal Jupiter's 4 bright Galilean moons, in their ever-changing configurations. Galileo first saw them nearly 400 years ago with a 1.5-inch telescope of lower quality than any available today. In early October, look for Jupiter rising in the east around 8PM & by 7PM at mid-month. In late October, (at opposition), Jupiter will rise in the east as the Sun sets, and set in the west at sunrise. VENUS, appears low in the west around 6:30PM throughout October. You'll need an unobstructed view of the western horizon, & you'll need to look fast; Venus sets by 7PM all month, affording a mere 30 minute window to view the planet. Fortunately, Venus is so bright, (gleaming at magnitude minus ? 3.8), that you should be able to spot it as it "pops out" of the western twilight. The last week in October, watch for MERCURY to join Venus, both planets hugging the western horizon at sunset. Start searching for Mercury about 30 minutes after sunset on Oct. 27th. That evening, the tiny innermost planet shines at magnitude minus -0.3, & appears 2 degrees directly below Venus. (Best viewed in binoculars). The 2 planets will remain within a few degrees of each other through the first half of November. Look for a slim crescent Moon, about 10 degrees to the upper left of the pair on October 28. MARS rises in the east around 2AM at the start of October, & by 1:30AM at months end. The red planet shines at magnitude 1.1 (as bright as a bright star), & has a pale orange glow. Mars continues to climb higher before dawn throughout the month. It passes from Cancer to Leo in mid-October & ends the month just 5 degrees from Regulus, the Lion's brightest star. SATURN passes on the opposite side of the Sun from Earth at mid-month, but will return to our morning sky at months end. On Oct. 31st, it rises in the east at 5:30AM & shines at magnitude 0.7, bright enough to pierce the dawn glow. The ringed planet will appear very low in the east-southeast, & you'll have about 30 minutes to spot it before daybreak. For an October Hawaiian sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

September 2011 September Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands September marks the transition from Summer to Autumn skies. The Autumnal Equinox occurs on Sept. 22nd here in Hawaii. This is the moment when the Sun crosses the celestial equator, marking the change in seasons from summer to fall. On the day of the equinox, the Sun rises exactly in the East, & sets exactly in the West, & periods of day & night are equal (close to 12 hours each). After the equinox, the Sun will appear lower & lower in the sky & the days will grow shorter. SATURN disappears from view by the end of September. The ringed planet will set by 8:30 PM early in the month; with Spica (the brightest star in Virgo) following shortly thereafter. (You'll find Saturn ten degrees to the right of Spica, low in the Western sky at sunset). Saturn & Spica will appear a little lower in the west each night and, by the last week in September, Saturn will be lost in the light of the setting Sun. Dazzling JUPITER certainly lives up to its nickname this month: "The King of Planets." The gas giant rises by 10PM in early Sept., & by 8PM at months end, & reigns until dawn. At magnitude minus -2.7, it appears as the brightest object in our sky (except for the Moon). The brilliant planet spends most of the month tracking eastward across south-central Aries, the Ram. Jupiter will reach opposition in October, so now is a great time for telescopic observing. A small telescope or good binoculars will reveal Jupiter's 4 bright Galilean moons, in their ever-changing configurations. Galileo first saw them nearly 400 years ago with a 1.5-inch telescope of lower quality than any available today. MARS rises in the east around 2:30AM at the start of Sept., at by 2AM at months end. The red planet shines at magnitude 1.4 & has a pale orange glow. Mars starts the month in Gemini, passing just south of 1st magnitude, Pollux, (one of the Gemini twins); then crosses into Cancer the Crab by the 15th. On Sept.30th & Oct.1st look for Mars against the background stars of the magnificent Beehive Cluster (M44). Through binoculars or a wide-field telescope, Mars sits like a red gem in the midst of this beautiful cluster of blue-white stars. VENUS has been lost in the Sun's glow for more than 2 months. It will finally emerge from behind the Sun, & reappear in the evening sky in late September. Look for our brightest planet (magnitude minus-3.9) extremely low in the west, around 6:45PM, beginning on Sept. 20th. You'll need an unobstructed view to the western horizon, & you'll need to look fast, as Venus sets by 7PM in those last ten days of the month. MERCURY reaches western elongation (its greatest angular distance west of the Sun) on Sept. 3rd, & makes an impressive appearance before dawn. During the first week of September, look for the tiny innermost planet, (glowing at magnitude minus-0.3) low in east at around 5AM. Mercury appears in the constellation Leo, & passes 1st magnitude Regulus, Leo's brightest star, in the month's second week. By the 15th, Mercury will brighten to minus-1.2 magnitude, but will appear so close to the horizon that it will be difficult to spot, as it heads back toward the Sun. For a September Hawaiian sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

August 2011 August Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Behold our spectacular summer skies! Glorious bands of Milky Way stars illuminate our dark Hawaiian sky with a rich, "milky" haze. The stars & constellations of the Summer Triangle (Navigator's Triangle) appear high overhead in our August sky, (Altair, in Aquila the Eagle; Vega in Lyra, the Harp; & Deneb in Cygnus the Swan), while Scorpius, the giant Scorpion, & Sagittarius, the Archer, display boldly in the southwest. SATURN is probably best viewed in the early evening. At the beginning of August, look for the ringed planet about 30 degrees high in the west at dusk, & setting about 10:30 PM. By the end of the month, Saturn will be only about 10 degrees above the western horizon at dusk, & will set by 8:45 PM. Saturn will appear closer & closer to Spica, the brightest star in the constellation Virgo, the Maiden. While Saturn & Spica appear equally as bright (0.9 mag.), notice the color contrast between yellowish Saturn, & blue-white Spica. Saturn's spectacular ring system currently tilts 9 degrees to our line of sight from Earth, and telescopic viewing is quite stunning! Dazzling JUPITER certainly lives up to its nickname this month: The King of Planets. The gas giant rises in the east at midnight in early August & by 10 PM at the end of the month and, at magnitude minus -2.5, it appears as the brightest object in our sky (except for the Moon). The brilliant planet spends most of the month tracking eastward across south-central Aries, the Ram. Jupiter will be high overhead in the early morning hours before daybreak, a great time to view, through a telescope or good binoculars, Jupiter's 4 bright Galilean moons, in their ever-changing configurations. Galileo first saw them nearly 400 years ago with a 1.5-inch telescope of lower quality than any available today. Look for a waning gibbous Moon next to Jupiter on August 19-20. MARS appears as a fairly dim object (1.4 mag) in the morning sky, rising in the east around 3:00 AM throughout the month. From Aug. 4th thru mid-month, the red planet appears near the "feet" of the Gemini twins, and appears somewhat brighter (& more reddish) than these stars. Look for the crescent Moon next to Mars early on August 25th. VENUS will be lost in the Sun's glow this month. It will reappear in the evening sky in late September. MERCURY passes between the Sun & Earth (inferior conjunction) & will also be lost in the Sun's glare. However the tiny innermost planet returns to the morning sky by month's end. Look for Mercury on the morning of August 27th, around 5:30 AM, very low in the east, just below the slender crescent Moon. Mercury will brighten & climb higher in the predawn sky each day. By the 31st, the planet will have brightened to magnitude 0.3 & will appear 10 degrees above the eastern horizon 30 minutes before Sunrise. For an August Hawaiian sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

July 2011 July Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Behold our spectacular summer skies! Glorious bands of Milky Way stars illuminate our dark Hawaiian sky with a rich, "milky" haze. The stars & constellations of the Summer Triangle (Navigator's Triangle) grace the northern sky (Altair, in Aquila the Eagle; Vega in Lyra, the Harp; & Deneb in Cygnus the Swan), while Scorpius, the giant Scorpion, & Sagittarius, the Archer, display boldly toward the south. July evenings provide opportunities for naked-eye viewing of the planet MERCURY. Shining at magnitude minus ? 0.4 (early in the month), the tiny innermost planet "pops" out of the twilight glow just as the sky starts to darken. Look for Mercury in the west, around 8pm, about 10 degrees above the western horizon. As Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun, it always appears close to Sun. We only see it rising just before the Sun in the morning, or setting just after the Sun in the evening. Mercury reaches greatest elongation July 19/20, when it lies 27 degrees east of the Sun. SATURN shines in the western evening sky throughout July. Saturn lies in the constellation Virgo, & appears as a bright dot, 15-degrees to the right (NW) of Spica, Virgo's brightest star. Saturn shines at magnitude 0.9 which makes it slightly brighter than Spica, and a bit fainter than Arcturus (Hokule'a), which appears NE of the Ringed Planet. Notice the color contrast between golden Saturn, blue-white Spica, & yellow-orange Arcturus. Saturn appears close to (almost on top of) Virgo's second-brightest star, Porrima (Gamma Virginis). Saturn's rings now tilt at 8-degrees from our line of sight, affording wonderful telescopic views of their various features all month. Dazzling JUPITER certainly lives up to it's nickname this month: The King of Planets. The gas giant rises in the east at 2am in early July, & at midnight by the end of the month; & at magnitude minus -2.4, it appears as the brightest object in our morning sky (except for the Moon). With a small telescope or good binoculars, you can view Jupiter's 4 bright Galilean moons in their ever-changing configurations. Galileo first saw them nearly 400 years ago with a 1.5-inch telescope of lower quality than any available today. Also in the morning sky, look for MARS , rising in the east around 3:30am in early July, & at around 3am at month's end. On the morning of July 6th, Mars appears in Taurus, 5-degrees north of Aldebaran, the Bull's brightest star. The Red Planet is a near color match to Aldebaran, the red giant star which represents the "eye" of the Bull. Shining at magnitude 1.4, Mars appears slightly fainter than the star. Watch Mars trek across Taurus during July. It passes between the horns of the Bull on July 26th and, a day later, appears near a slim crescent Moon for a lovely morning scene. VENUS appears low in the east-northeast before dawn in early July. It shines brilliantly at magnitude minus -3.8, which is the only reason it shows up in the bright twilight. After the first week of July, Venus will be lost in the Sun's glow. It will reappear in the evening sky in late September. For a July Hawaiian sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

June 2011 June Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands As we bid ALOHA to the glorious stars & constellations of winter, now setting with the Sun, we welcome the return of our resplendent summer skies. Scorpius, the Scorpion (AKA: Ka Makau Nui, the giant fishhook of Maui), is rising from the southeast at sunset. The stars & constellations of the Summer Triangle (Navigator's Triangle) rise from the northeast by 9 PM (Altair, in Aquila the Eagle; Vega in Lyra, the Lyre; & Deneb in Cygnus the Swan), And soon we'll be viewing beautiful bands of stars in our summer Milky Way. SATURN stands alone as the only naked-eye-viewable planet in our evening sky. Saturn lies in the constellation Virgo, & appears 15-degrees NW of Spica, Virgo's brightest star. Saturn shines at magnitude 0.75 which makes it slightly brighter than Spica, and a bit fainter than Arcturus (Hokule'a), which appears NE of the Ringed Planet. Notice the color contrast between golden Saturn, blue-white Spica, & yellow-orange Arcturus. Saturn appears close to (almost on top of) Virgo's second-brightest star, Gamma Virginis. Saturn's rings now tilt at 7-degrees from our line of sight, affording wonderful telescopic views of their various features all month. Brilliant JUPITER rises in the east at 3:30am in early June, & by 2am at the end of the month. At magnitude minus -2.2, it shines brighter than any point of light in the sky, except for Venus. Jupiter appears particularly conspicuous against the relatively dim background star of Pisces. With a small telescope or good binoculars, you can view Jupiter's 4 bright Galilean moons in their ever-changing configurations. Galileo first saw them nearly 400 years ago with a 1.5-inch telescope of lower quality than any available today. Stunning VENUS rises in the east at 4:40am at the start of June, & by 5am at month's end. Since the day starts to break around 5:15am, you will have a very short window to catch Venus in June. Still, you should be able to spot the planet, BLAZING at magnitude minus-3.9, low in the east. Look for MARS , low in the east about 4:45am, just above Venus. Mars has a pale orange glow. Shining at magnitude 1.4, Mars is 100 times dimmer than Venus, but it still shines as brightly as a fairly bright star. On June 19th, the Red Planet passes 4-degrees south of the Pleiades star cluster (M45), aka: the Seven Sisters or Makali'i. On June 28th, Mars lies 6-degrees southeast of M45, with a slender crescent Moon between the two objects; a lovely sight in the morning twilight. MERCURY passes behind the Sun, (from an Earthly perspective), on June 12th, then reappears in the evening sky by June 23rd. If you have a clear view to the western horizon, you should be able to spot Mercury, low in the west around 8pm, shining at magnitude minus-0.5. June is the last month each year to view The Southern Cross (Crux) from Hawaii. To view Crux, you'll need an unobstructed view to the southern horizon. Acrux, the bottom star of the Cross, rises only about six degrees above the horizon at it highest point. The best views of Crux in June will be between 8:00pm & 9:00pm, when the Cross stands upright, & nearly due south. Look for 2 bright stars low in the south, Alpha & Beta Centauri, which point to the Roman-style "cross" asterism to their right (west). June 21st marks the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year for the northern hemisphere, when the Sun reaches its maximum distance north of the celestial equator. In Hawaii, we'll have approximately 13 hours & 26 minutes between sunrise & sunset. For a June Hawaiian sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

May 2011 May Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands The morning sky is at its best this month, with a spectacular twilight gathering of planets. Four of the five naked-eye planets, MERCURY, VENUS, MARS , & JUPITER cluster near one another, rising in the east before dawn in the first 3 weeks of May. These planets do not rise until around 5AM, so you'll have only about 30-45 minutes to view them before daybreak. The 4 planets show up in different positions, relative to one another, each new morning. (Uranus & Neptune also lurk in the east before sunrise, but you'll need binoculars or a telescope to spot them). VENUS-JUPITER CONJUNCTION: On May 11th, at about 5:10AM, Venus and Jupiter, the two brightest points of light in the sky, will appear right next to each other, (about 1 Full Moon-width apart). Look for the brilliant pair approx. 10-degrees above the eastern horizon. Jupiter will be on the left; bright at minus 2 magnitude, tho' not as bright as Venus (minus 3.9). Look for Mercury about 1.5 degrees to the lower right of Venus. You might need a pair of binoculars to spot dim Mars, (mag. 1.3), about 5 degrees below, and to the left, of Venus. Over the next ten days, Jupiter will appear higher in the sky each morning, while the other 3 planets will hunker down near the horizon. For the remainder of the month, the planets will appear to move apart. From May 28 ? 31, the 4 planets form what looks like a "string of pearls," with Jupiter at the top, (20 degrees above the eastern horizon). Mercury will be AT the horizon, just below (still brilliant) Venus, while Mars will then be a bit easier to spot, between Venus & Jupiter. Morning Planet Show Video: (youtube.com). Spectacular SATURN stands alone as the only naked-eye-viewable planet in our evening sky. Saturn lies in the constellation Virgo, & appears just above (NW of) Spica, Virgo's brightest star. Saturn shines at magnitude 0.6 which makes it slightly brighter than Spica, and a bit fainter than Arcturus (Hokule'a), which appears NE of the planet. Notice the color contrast between golden Saturn, blue-white Spica, & yellow-orange Arcturus. At mid-month, look for Saturn about 2/3 of the way up in the south at dusk, & high overhead at 9PM. At the end of May, look for Saturn high overhead at dusk, & setting by 2:30AM. Saturn's rings now tilt at 8-degrees from our line of sight, affording wonderful telescopic views of their various features all month. The Southern Cross (Crux) rises in the southeast around 8:30PM in early May, & by 6:30PM at the end of the month. To view Crux, you'll need an unobstructed view to the southern horizon. Acrux, the bottom star of the Cross, rises only about six degrees above the horizon at it highest point. The Cross stands upright, & nearly due south, at 10PM in early May & at 8:30PM at month's end. Look for 2 bright stars low in the south, Alpha & Beta Centauri, which point to the Roman-style "cross" asterism to their right (west). Note that the Hawaiian Islands are located at one of the few latitudes from where we can see all the way from the North Star, Polaris (Hokupa'a), to the Southern Cross, a Polynesian navigational "star line" called Ka Iwikuamo'o, "The Backbone." For a May Hawaiian sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

April 2011 April Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Our "star attraction" for April is not a star at all. The planet SATURN, and it's spectacular ring system, offer quite the display this month. Saturn reaches opposition ? the point in it's orbit when it lies opposite the Sun, & thus brightest in our skies ? on the night of April 3/4. In early April, Saturn will rise in the east at sunset, be high overhead at midnight, and set at dawn. At opposition, the ringed planet lies a MERE 800 million miles from Earth ? it's closest approach of the year, so it shines brighter and appears bigger & more detailed through a telescope. And Saturn's rings now tilt at 9-degrees from our line of sight, affording wonderful views of their various features all month. Saturn lies in the constellation Virgo, & appears approx. 10 degrees directly above Spica, Virgo's brightest star. Saturn shines at magnitude 0.4 which makes it slightly brighter than Spica, and a bit fainter than Arcturus (Hokule'a), which appears approx. 30 degrees to the planet's left. Notice the color contrast between golden Saturn, blue-white Spica, & yellow-orange Arcturus. Dazzling VENUS is that blazing light you see in the early morning sky before dawn. At magnitude minus -4.0, there is no mistaking Venus for any other celestial object. Throughout the month, Venus rises in the east at around 4:40 AM, & is visible for about an hour before daybreak washes it out. JUPITER returns to the morning sky at the end of April. Look for the gas giant around April 30th, rising in the east at about 5:10AM, approx. 10-degrees below Venus. You'll have only about 30 minutes to spot Jupiter before it is "washed out" by the rising Sun, although at magnitude minus -2.0, it is still recognizably quite brilliant. Both MERCURY, and MARS join the morning sky planet line-up in the last ten days of April. Both planets appear in between Venus & Jupiter, but are much fainter than these two brilliant planets. While Mercury & Mars will be difficult to spot with the naked eye, they should be easily visible in binoculars. The 2 planets appear within 2-degrees of each other on April 21st, & rise together at around 5:20 AM. On the morning of April 30th, look for a beautiful "gathering of planets," in the eastern predawn sky. On that morning, at around 5:15AM, the crescent Moon will be above Venus; Mercury will shine at magnitude 0.95, just below Venus; Jupiter (mag. minus -2.0) will appear even further below Venus; & faint Mars will appear less than 1/2 a degree above Jupiter. You might need a pair of binoculars to spot Mars. The Southern Cross (Crux) rises in the southeast around 10PM in early April, & by 8PM at the end of the month. To view Crux, you'll need an unobstructed view to the southern horizon. Acrux, the bottom star of the Cross, rises only about six degrees above the horizon at it highest point. The Cross stands upright, & nearly due south, at 12:30AM in early April, & at 10:30PM at month's end. Look for 2 bright stars low in the south, Alpha & Beta Centauri, which point to the Roman-style "cross" asterism to their right (west). Note that the Hawaiian Islands are located at one of the few latitudes from where we can see all the way from the North Star, Polaris (Hokupa'a), to the Southern Cross, a Polynesian navigational "star line" called Ka Iwikuamo'o, "The Backbone." For an April Hawaiian sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

March 2011 March Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Between the recent storms & cloud cover here in Hawaii, our Winter sky has been truly AMAZING! Orion & his 2 hunting dogs (Canis Major & Canis Minor), Taurus, Leo, Gemini, Auriga, & many other great Winter constellations appear boldly overhead. Notice the sparkling bright stars of the ?Winter Hexagon? (Sirius, Procyon, Pollux, Capella, Aldebaron, & Rigel), & numerous other FINE celestial objects available for our viewing pleasure! During the first week of March, JUPITER, dominates our western evening sky. Blazing at magnitude minus -2.1, you'll easily find the gas giant, low in the west just after sunset. Each night in early March, Jupiter will appear lower on the horizon, and will set earlier. By March 10th, you may be able to spot MERCURY, almost directly below Jupiter. The tiny innermost planet gleams at minus -1.2 magnitude (brighter than usual!). From March 10th ? 15th, Mercury appears a little higher each night at dusk, while Jupiter appears a little lower. By March 16th, the two planets appear side-by-side, only 2 degrees apart, low in the west at 7:15PM. (Jupiter, brighter on the left). By March 25th, Jupiter will be lost in the light of the setting Sun, to reappear in late April in the morning sky. Mercury will continue to rise higher in the western sky thru the third week of March. On March 22nd Mercury will reach "eastern elongation," its greatest apparent distance east of the Sun (19 degrees). With Jupiter all but gone, Mercury will then be the most conspicuous object in the western sky. Mercury fades quickly during the final week of March, dropping to 2nd magnitude by the 31st. SATURN rises almost due east at 9PM in early March, & rises at sunset by the end of the month. The ringed planet grows more conspicuous as it climbs higher in the eastern sky. Saturn lies in the constellation Virgo, (the Maiden), & appears 10 degrees directly above Spica, Virgo's brightest star. Saturn shines at magnitude 0.4 which makes it slightly brighter than blue-white Spica, and a bit fainter than yellow-orange Arcturus (Hokule'a), which appears 30 degrees to the planet's left. Saturn's increasing altitude offers excellent opportunities for telescopic viewing of the spectacular ring system. The rings now tilt at 9 degrees to our line of sight from Earth, & present a fine view of their northern face. Dazzling VENUS is that blazing light you see in the early morning sky, rising from the east at around 4:30AM throughout March. (It rises 2 hours before the Sun in early March, but only about 75 minutes before sunrise at month's end). At magnitude minus -4.0, there's no mistaking Venus for any other celestial object. MARS does not make an appearance this month, as it lies on the far side of the Sun from Earth & is lost in the Sun's glare. Mars will return to view before dawn in late April. The Southern Cross (Crux) rises in the southeast around midnight in early March, & by 10PM at the end of the month. To view Crux, you'll need an unobstructed view to the southern horizon. Acrux, the bottom star of the Cross, rises only about six degrees above the horizon at it highest point. The Cross stands upright, & is due south, at 2:15AM in early March, & at 12:15AM at month's end. Look for 2 bright stars low in the south, Alpha & Beta Centauri, which point to the Roman-style "cross" asterism to their right (west). . The Vernal or Spring Equinox occurs on March 20th here in Hawaii. This is the moment when the Sun crosses the celestial equator, marking the change in seasons from winter to spring. On the day of the equinox, the Sun rises exactly in the East, & sets exactly in the West, and periods of day & night are the same length. After the equinox, the Sun will appear higher & higher in the sky, & the days will grow longer. For a March Hawaiian sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

January 2011 January Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Behold our fabulous Winter Sky! It's wonderful to experience Orion & his faithful hunting dogs, (Canis Major & Minor), as well as Taurus, Gemini, & the other great constellations of Winter, returning to our night skies. JUPITER, blazing at magnitude minus -2.3, is the brightest object in our evening sky, except for the Moon. Look for the stunning gas giant in the southwest just after sunset, among the relatively dim background stars of Pisces, the Fishes. (SE of the Pisces "circlet.") With a small telescope or good binoculars, you can view Jupiter's 4 bright Galilean moons in their ever-changing configurations. Galileo first saw them nearly 400 years ago with a 1.5-inch telescope of lower quality than any available today. Jupiter serves as a guide to URANUS. With binoculars, you can find Uranus lurking in Jupiter's vicinity, in the same binocular field of view, throughout the month. Wake up early to view three planets in the pre-dawn sky. Dazzling VENUS is that blazing light you see in the early morning sky, rising 3 hours before the Sun throughout January. At magnitude minus -4.6, there's no mistaking Venus for any other celestial object. Both Venus & Mercury reach western elongation this month (greatest distance west of the Sun), within 24 hours of each other. MERCURY arrives at this milestone on January 9th, when it will be 23 deg. west of the Sun. It then lies 10 degrees high in the southeast, 45 minutes before sunrise. That morning, the tiny innermost planet shines at magnitude minus -0.3, brighter than any star then visible, (tho' much fainter than Venus), & appears quite prominent to the lower left of Venus. SATURN has also reemerged as a morning planet. The ringed planet rises in the East at around 1 AM in early January, & by 11 PM at month's end. Saturn lies in Virgo, just above Spica, Virgo brightest star; shining at magnitude 0.7, only slightly brighter, & more of a golden color, in contrast to bluish Spica. Saturn's increasing altitude offers excellent opportunities for telescopic viewing of the spectacular ring system. The rings now tilt at 10 degrees to our line of sight from Earth, & present a fine view of their northern face. The Southern Cross rises in the southeast at 4:00 AM in early January, and by 2:00 AM at the end of the month. To view Crux, you'll need an unobstructed view to the southern horizon. Look for 2 bright stars low in the South, Alpha & Beta Centauri, which point to the Roman-style "cross" asterism to their right (west). For a January Hawaiian sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

Dec. 20-21, 2010 TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE Hawaiian Islands, North America, Eastern Polynesea There will be a TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE on Dec. 20-21, visible throughout the Hawaiian Islands, and throughout nearly all of North America (as well as Tahiti, Easter Island, and the Marquesas). It occurs on December 21, "universal time," which is the night of December 20th in Hawaii. This is the first lunar eclipse in three years. The full Moon will rise as the Sun sets. (Lunar eclipses only occur during a full Moon). From Hawaii, the lunar eclipse technically starts at 7:30 PM Hawaiian Standard Time (Dec. 20th), as the Moon starts to enter the faint outer shadow of the Earth (penumbra). However, you will not notice any darkening of the Moon until at least 8:30 PM HST when the Moon begins to enter the deep inner shadow of the Earth, the umbra. By 9:40 PM HST on Dec. 20th, the Moon will be entirely in the Earth's inner shadow, as the TOTALITY phase of the eclipse begins By this time, the Moon should be dramatically darker and will appear RED. This phase, TOTALITY, with the Moon completely within the Earth's umbra, will last until 10:52 PM HST. The Moon will then start to leave the umbra & begin to lighten. By midnight, the Moon will be entirely out of the dark inner shadow & will look like a regular full Moon. Technically, this eclipse ends at 1:03 AM HST on Dec. 21st, as the Moon leaves the penumbra completely. Lunar eclipses occur when the Earth comes in between the Moon and Sun. The Earth blocks most of the light coming from the Sun & stops that light from hitting the Moon. However, the longer wavelengths of red light from the Sun do make it through the Earth?s atmosphere and continue on to strike the Moon. Thus, during lunar eclipses the Moon turns an eerie shade of red. This eclipse will be total over nearly all of North America. TOTALITY, which will last 72 minutes, begins & end at the following times in these locations/time zones: PACIFIC (Seattle, San Francisco, LA) - Dec. 20th, begins at 11:40PM PST & lasts until 12:52AM PST on Dec. 21st. *** MOUNTAIN (Denver) - begins at 12:40AM MST, Dec. 21st & lasts until 1:52AM. *** Central (Chicago) ? begins at 1:40AM CST, Dec.21st, & lasts until 2:52AM. *** Eastern (New York, Miami) ? begins at 2:40AM EST, Dec. 21st, & lasts until 2:52AM. **** Courtesy of Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org). For more details, feel free to contact me directly roz@rozhome.com

December 13/14 2010 Geminid Meteor Shower Hawaiian Islands Viewing The Geminid Meteor Shower, one of the year's strongest showers, is expected to peak before dawn on Tuesday, Dec. 14th. After the First Quarter Moon sets, at around 12:10AM, we could see as many as 100 meteors ("shooting stars") per hour from a dark viewing site. The meteors appear to originate or "radiate" from the constellation Gemini the Twins, near the bright star Castor. The highest rates come in the hours after midnight when Gemini appears high in the sky. Best viewing will probably be on Tuesday morning, between 2 AM, (when bright Gemini twin stars, Castor & Pollux, are directly overhead), and dawn. We could probably catch some meteor action at late night & early morning on Dec.12th - 13th as well. The streaking meteors will only serve to highlight our viewing of the spectacular morning sky! Venus blazes, rising from the east around 3:45AM, unmistakably the brightest object in the morning sky. Saturn will also be viewable in the morning (NW of Venus in the constellation Virgo), as well as Leo, Taurus, Orion, & Ursa Major (Big Dipper). You DO NOT need a telescope or binoculars to see this, or any meteor shower. Just make sure you are warm & comfortable, (a lounge chair with blankets & a thermos with a hot beverage would be great), find a dark spot, & scan the sky for streaks of light! Meteor showers occur when the Earth passes thru the path of a comet. The tiny bits of debris left behind by comets, most no larger than a grain of sand, create a spectacular light show as they enter (& burn up) in Earth's atmosphere. The Geminids come from "3200 Phaethon," an asteroid which many astronomers suspect is the nucleus of a dead comet.

November 2010 November Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands As we bid ALOHA to the giant Scorpion (Scorpius is now setting just after the Sun), Orion the Hunter appears in our evening skies, with his great & small dogs, Canis Major & Canis Minor. Observe some other great Winter constellations in the area, such as: Taurus, the Bull; Gemini, the Twins: Pegasus, the Winged Horse: & Auriga, the Charioteer. Dazzling JUPITER continues to dominate the night sky. Blazing at magnitude minus -2.8, the gas giant planet is the brightest point of light in our evening sky. You can spot Jupiter within 30 minutes after sunset, high in the Southeast. Through a small telescope you might observe features such as Jupiter's dark belts, colorful cloud bands, & the Great Red Spot. Observe Jupiter's 4 bright Galilean moons in their ever-changing configurations. Galileo first saw them nearly 400 years ago with a 1.5-inch telescope of lower quality than any available today. It will be a bit challenging to spot MARS and MERCURY this month, hovering low on the Western horizon at sunset. The best time to see them together is Nov.20th, when Mercury passes 1.7 degrees south (to the left) of Mars. Mercury then shines at magnitude minus ? 0.4, 5 times brighter than Mars, & can be used as a reference point for finding Mars. Look for Mars, (it has a faint orange glow), against the dim claw of Scorpius, very low in the WSW around 6:45pm. Mercury sets around 6:55pm on Nov. 20, and at 7:10pm by the end of the month. Stunning VENUS reemerges, (from behind the Sun), in early November as a brilliant object in the morning twilight. Watch for Venus to rise in the East about an hour before sunrise, just below Spica, Virgo's brightest star, At magnitude minus -4.4, there's no mistaking Venus for any other celestial object. By the end of the month, Venus rises nearly 3 hours ahead of the Sun. . SATURN has also reemerged as a morning planet & will appear approx. 15 degrees above Venus in early November. The ringed planet rises in the East at around 4AM in mid-month, and by 3AM at month's end. Saturn lies in Virgo & shines at magnitude 0.9, even brighter than Spica. Saturn's increasing altitude offers excellent opportunities for telescopic viewing of the spectacular ring system. The rings now tilt at 9 degrees to our line of sight from Earth, & present a fine view of their northern face. For November Hawaiian sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

October 2010 October Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Just as dazzling VENUS now sets shortly after the Sun, brilliant JUPITER dominates the sky from sunset until dawn. In late September, Jupiter reached opposition & peak visibility, as it made its closest approach in nearly 50 years (a mere 368 million miles from Earth). The gas giant, BLAZING at magnitude minus -2.9, will not appear as big or as bright again until 2022. Look for Jupiter high in East just after sunset, conspicuous against the dim background stars of Pisces (just S.E. of the Pisces "Circlet" asterism). Through a small telescope you might observe features such as Jupiter's dark belts, colorful cloud bands, & the Great Red Spot. Observe Jupiter's 4 bright Galilean moons in their ever-changing configurations. Galileo first saw them nearly 400 years ago with a 1.5-inch telescope of lower quality than any available today. While you're observing in Pisces, look for blue-green URANUS, between 2 degrees & 3.2 degrees N.E. of Jupiter. At magnitude 5.7, Uranus shows up easily through binoculars, & can be viewed in the same field as Jupiter. Although it appears near Jupiter in the sky, Uranus is nearly 5 times farther from Earth, at a distance of 1.8 billion miles. By mid-October, both MARS & VENUS will be setting with Sun & will no longer be viewable this month. Venus passes between the Sun and Earth in late October, briefly disappearing from view, then reemerges in early November as a brilliant object in the morning twilight. SATURN also has been lost in the Sun's glare, and will reemerge as a morning planet in late October. By October 31st, Saturn rises at 5AM, in the constellation Virgo, & will be 15 degrees above the eastern horizon about an hour before daybreak. For an October sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org). OCTOBER SKYWATCH UPDATE IN PROGRESS...

October 2010 Comet Hartley The brightest comet of the year puts on a good show in October. When Comet 103P/Hartley glows at its brightest, (mid-October), it should be visible with naked eyes under a dark sky. Australian astronomer Malcolm Hartley discovered this comet in March 1986. It orbits the Sun once every 6.5 years, traveling from just outside the orbit of Jupiter to nearly Earth's distance from the Sun. This is the comet's fourth return to the inner solar system since it was discovered, and 2010 promises to be its best return yet. On October 8th & 9th, Hartley passes next to the famous Double Cluster in Perseus. Around the 18th, Hartley passes the bright star Capella, in the constellation Auriga. It comes closest to Earth (11 million miles) on October 20th, when it should reach 5th magnitude & appear brightest in the sky (although the nearly Full Moon makes the comet somewhat less conspicuous). With naked eyes, the comet appears like a diffuse fuzz ball, as opposed the "pinpoint" of light from a star. Binoculars will show the comet nicely, and a telescope will let you see details. Comet Hartley should show two tails emanating from a roughly circular, greenish glow: a straight bluish gas tail & a curving, pale-yellow dust tail. The dust tail spreads out like a narrow "fan" from the central coma. On October 28th, look for Comet Hartley in Gemini, not far from the gibbous Moon.

September 2010 September Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Balmy, clear autumn nights - perfect for stargazing! Glorious bands of Milky Way stars illuminate our dark Hawaiian sky with a rich, "milky" haze. The stars & constellations of the Summer Triangle (Navigator's Triangle) grace the northern sky (Altair, in Aquila the Eagle; Vega in Lyra, the Lyre; & Deneb in Cygnus the Swan), while Scorpius, the giant scorpion, & Sagittarius, the archer, display boldly toward the south. Dazzling VENUS appears just after sunset, in the west-southwest. Blazing at magnitude minus -4.5, it is unmistakably the brightest object in our sky (except for the Moon). On Sept. 23, Venus will be at it's brightest, magnitude minus -4.8 and, on that evening, will set 1 hour after the Sun. In contrast to brilliant Venus, MARS appears small & dim. At magnitude 1.5 Mars glows, with a distinctive ruddy hue, some 300 times fainter than Venus. In the evening twilight look for Venus & Mars near Virgo's brightest star, Spica. On Sept. 1st, Venus lies in line with Spica & Mars, with Spica between the two planets. As the month progresses, the 3 objects form an ever-widening triangle. Venus far outshines Spica, & Spica glows a little brighter than Mars. On Sept. 10th, a crescent Moon joins the trio, with Mars 6-degrees directly above the Moon, & Venus 6-degrees to the lower left of Mars. You may be able to glimpse SATURN, at least thru the first week of September, low in the west at twilight. On Sept. 1st, the ringed planet sets just 1 hour after the Sun. Look for Saturn about 20 degrees to the right of Venus, approx. 5 degrees above the western horizon, 30 minutes after sunset. Saturn glows at magnitude 1.0, the same magnitude as Spica. If you can see Spica, you might be able to spot Saturn. Stunning JUPITER reaches opposition & peak visibility this month, dominating the sky nearly all night long. The gas giant planet shines at magnitude minus -2.9, & appears conspicuously brilliant against the dim background stars of Pisces. Jupiter lies closer to Earth at this opposition than it has since 1999, so it shines brighter & appears larger than it has this century. Through a small telescope you might observe features such as Jupiter's dark belts, colorful cloud bands, & the Great Red Spot. Look for Jupiter's 4 bright Galilean moons in their ever-changing configurations. Galileo first saw them nearly 400 years ago with a 1.5-inch telescope of lower quality than any available today. Watch for Jupiter to rise in the east, (just below the Circlet asterism in Pisces), at around 8PM at the beginning of the month, & at sunset (around 6:45) at its Sept. 21st opposition. While you're observing in Pisces, look for blue-green URANUS, less than 1-degree north of Jupiter on Sept. 21st when both planets reach opposition. At magnitude 5.7, Uranus glows bright enough to see with naked eyes, from under a dark sky. With binoculars, you can view Uranus in the same field as Jupiter. MERCURY reaches western elongation (its greatest distance west of the Sun) on Sept. 19th, providing the best morning views this year of the tiny innermost planet. You might begin to see Mercury as early as Sept. 13th, in the east about 45 minutes before sunrise, when it lies approx. 6-degrees below Regulus, Leo's brightest star. At elongation, Mercury lies 18-degrees west of the Sun, glows at magnitude minus -0.4, & rises more than an hour before the Sun.The Autumnal Equinox occurs on Sept. 22nd here in Hawaii. This is the moment when the Sun crosses the celestial equator, marking the change in seasons from summer to fall. On the day of the equinox, the Sun rises exactly in the East, & sets exactly in the West, & periods of day & night are equal (12 hours each). After the equinox, the Sun will appear lower & lower in the sky & the days will grow shorter. For a September sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

August 2010 August Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Behold our spectacular summer skies! Glorious bands of Milky Way stars illuminate our dark Hawaiian sky with a rich, "milky" haze. The stars & constellations of the Summer Triangle (Navigator's Triangle) grace the northern sky (Altair, in Aquila the Eagle; Vega in Lyra, the Lyre; & Deneb in Cygnus the Swan), while Scorpius, the giant scorpion, & Sagittarius, the archer, display boldly toward the south. Throughout August, observe the conjunction of 3 planets, Venus, Mars & Saturn, gathering low in west just after sunset, with Mercury naked-eye viewable for the first week or so. VENUS, unmistakably the brightest object in our sky (except for the Moon), clearly dominates the scene. Dazzling Venus blazes at magnitude minus -4.5 & brightens to magnitude minus -4.6 by the end of the month. Venus reaches elongation (greatest distance from the Sun) on Aug. 19th. Mars & Saturn join Venus to make an attractive trio. The orbital motions of the planets cause their relative positions to change all month. On August 1st, Saturn lies 2 degrees to the upper right of Mars, & this pair stands 7 degrees to the upper left of Venus. On August 10th, the 3 form a near isosceles triangle, with Venus at the bottom, Mars to its upper left, & Saturn to the upper right. On August 12th & 13th watch as a thin crescent Moon joins the trio. Note this is the peak night of the PERSEID METEOR SHOWER (see notes above). MARS shines at magnitude 1.5 & glows with a distinctive ruddy hue; in contrast to SATURN, at magnitude 1.1, which shines with a golden-yellow hue. Telescopic viewing of Saturn is not all too impressive this month due to its low altitude, wherein the heat of summer tends to roil Earth's atmosphere, causing the image of ringed planet to "shimmer." MERCURY maintains a fairly steady altitude during the first week of August: approximately 6 degrees above the western horizon (WNW) 30 minutes after sunset. On Aug. 1st Mercury shines at magnitude 0.1, but fades to magnitude 0.3 by the time it reaches elongation on August 6th. Even at it's greatest distance from the Sun, the tiny innermost planet will lie just 27 degrees east of our star! After 10 PM, look for stunning JUPITER ( & it's dimmer cousin Neptune), climbing into the southeastern sky. Jupiter is quite brilliant, particularly conspicuous against the dim background stars of Pisces. At magnitude minus -2.8, only the Moon & Venus are brighter! Through a telescope, or good binoculars, you may be able to observe some or all of Jupiter's four large Galilean moons. Watch for Jupiter to rise 2 hours earlier by month's end. For an August sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

Peak: August 12th-13th Perseid Meteor Shower Hawaiian Islands The Perseid Meteor Shower could be FANTASTIC this year, certainly the highlight of the summer meteor season. A thin crescent Moon will set in early evening, leaving a dark sky for a potentially spectacular show! From a dark, clear viewing location, observers should see an average of at least 60 meteors ("shooting stars") per hour & perhaps up to 100 per hour! This year's shower should peak on the night of August 12th and the morning of the 13th. (About half as many meteors will show up a night before & after). The best time to view the Perseids is after midnight Friday morning, Aug. 13th, and especially the 2 or 3 hours before dawn. The Perseids typically produce lots of bright meteors, many leaving luminous trails visible for several seconds. These are FAST meteors, with a velocity of about 37 miles/sec or 133,000 miles/hour! The meteors appear to "radiate" from the constellation Perseus, "The Hero." Activity increases during the early morning hours when Perseus is high in the northeast & the Earth turns sky-watchers into the oncoming stream of comet debris. You do not need a telescope or binoculars to view this or any other meteor shower. Just get yourself to the darkest location you can find, relax in a comfortable recliner chair, perhaps with a blanket & hot beverage, & enjoy the show! Meteor showers occur when the Earth passes through the path of a comet. The bits of debris left behind by the comets, most no larger than a grain of sand, create a spectacular light show as they enter (& burn up in) Earth's atmosphere. The Perseids' parent comet is 109/Swift-Tuttle, which last visited our part of the Solar System in 1992. The comet has an orbital period (returns to orbit our Sun) approx. every 130 years.

July 2010 July Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Behold our spectacular summer skies! Glorious bands of Milky Way stars illuminate our dark Hawaiian sky with a rich, "milky" haze. Observe a three-planet-line-up in the western sky just after nightfall. VENUS, unmistakably the brightest object in our sky (except for the Moon), dominates the scene shortly after sunset. Dazzling Venus brightens from magnitude minus -4.1 to minus -4.3 during July, & appears amidst the background stars of Leo. On July 9th, Venus passes 1 degree north of Regulus, Leo's brightest star (the "heart" of the Lion). Although MARS appears less than 1 percent as bright as Venus, at magnitude 1.4, it still ranks among the brighter evening objects. Mars glows with a distinctive ruddy hue, in contrast to Regulus, (just west of Mars), which appears blue-white. In early July, stunning SATURN appears 15 degrees to Mars' upper left. But this gap closes rapidly, as the two approach within 2 degrees of each other by the end of the month. While Saturn, at magnitude 1.1, shines only slightly brighter than Mars at this conjunction, note the color contrast between golden Saturn & ruddy Mars. Saturn appears to move eastward, against the background stars of western Virgo. By July 31st. all three planets crowd into a viewing field just 8 degrees across. Around July 15th MERCURY joins the planetary trio, although it rapidly dims from magnitude minus -0.5 to 0.1 & becomes difficult to view after mid-month without binoculars. After midnight, look for brilliant JUPITER ( & it's dimmer planetary cousins, Uranus & Neptune), climbing into the southeastern sky. Jupiter is particularly conspicuous against the dim background stars of Pisces. On July 11th, the Moon will pass directly between the Sun & Earth. Those fortunate enough to observe from a place along a narrow path in Earth's Southern Hemisphere, will experience a TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE. Most of totality's track lies in the South Pacific Ocean, however the path crosses two islands, Mangaia (in the Cook Islands) & Easter Island, before ending in southern Chile & Argentina. For a July sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

April 2010 April Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands April begins with FOUR naked-eye-viewable planets gracing our sky at sunset: Venus & Mercury in the West, Mars overhead, & Saturn high in the East. Enjoy the year's best view of MERCURY, as it climbs toward its April 8th eastern elongation (greatest distance from the Sun). While it's often difficult to catch a glimpse of the tiny innermost planet, Mercury appears close to Venus in early April, & the brilliant planet serves as a guide. Look for the duo in the West, (approx. 3 degrees apart), a half-hour after the Sun sets. Starting on April 8th, Mercury will begin moving away from Venus & back toward the Sun. Our last chance to spot it will be on the 15th, when it lies low on the Western horizon, less than 2 degrees below a sliver of crescent Moon, before becoming lost in the twilight. Hard to miss dazzling VENUS, at magnitude minus -3.9, unmistakably the brightest object in our sky, (except for the Moon). The brilliant planet climbs slowly higher & higher in the West with each passing night, trekking across Taurus the Bull. On April 24th, Venus passes just south of the Pleiades (M45), & remains close to the star cluster for a few days. Look for the ruddy red glow of MARS, almost directly overhead, as the sky darkens. The Red Planet clearly outshines the stars in its host constellation, Cancer the Crab. Mars will pass just north of the Beehive star cluster (M44) in mid-April. This is a fine sight through binoculars, or a low-power, wide-field telescope: Mars as a luminous red spot among the glistening blue-white stars of the Beehive. Look for Mars southeast of the 2 bright Gemini twin stars, Pollux & Castor. Stunning SATURN climbs high into the eastern sky at nightfall, & is visible most of the evening. The ringed planet appears among the stars of Virgo the Maiden, a bit brighter than Spica, Virgo's brightest star. Saturn's magnificent rings continue to open ( currently tilted at 2 degrees from Earth's line of sight), appearing more & more spectacular as the year progresses. JUPITER is visible just prior to sunrise. Look for the gas-giant planet, in Aquarius the Water-bearer, low in the eastern predawn sky. At magnitude minus -2.1, it is bright enough to see through the twilight, IF you have a clear, unobstructed view of the eastern horizon. For an April sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

March 2010 March Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Three viewable planets grace our night sky this month: Venus, Mars, & Saturn. Look for VENUS in the west just after sunset, dazzling at magnitude minus -3.9. The brilliant planet climbs slowly higher & higher with each passing night. Stunning SATURN slides through western Virgo this winter & spring, reaching opposition & peak visibility on March 21st, when it lies opposite the Sun in our sky, & remains visible all night. At magnitude 0.5, the ringed planet easily outshines its neighboring stars & ranks among the brightest objects in the sky. Saturn's rings open nicely as Saturn moves along it's orbit. At opposition, the rings tilt 3-degrees to our line of sight, and will open to 10-degrees by year's end. Although MARS is now past opposition & best visibility, the Red Planet remains an attractive sight throughout March. Mars lies in Cancer the Crab & will pass just north of the Beehive star cluster (M44) in mid-April. Look for Mars' ruddy glow high in the southeast just after sunset. You'll find it southeast of the 2 bright Gemini twin stars, Pollux & Castor. Late in the month, MERCURY, joins Venus in the evening twilight. On March 31st, the tiny innermost planet lies 3 degrees from Venus at sunset. The pair stand 10 degrees above the western horizon, 30 minutes after sunset, & remain visible until about 8:30 PM. JUPITER returns to view before dawn in late March. Look for the gas giant planet, in Aquarius the Water-bearer, low in the eastern twilight shortly before sunrise. At magnitude minus -2.0, it is bright enough to see through the twilight if you have a clear, unobstructed view of the eastern horizon. The Vernal or Spring Equinox occurs on March 20th here in Hawaii. This is the moment when the Sun crosses the celestial equator, marking the change in seasons from winter to spring. On the day of the equinox, the Sun rises exactly in the East, & sets exactly in the West, and periods of day & night are the same length. After the equinox, the Sun will appear higher & higher in the sky, & the days will grow longer. For a March sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

February 2010 February Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Mars & Saturn rule the sky from nearly dusk until dawn this month. MARS reached opposition in late January & remains near its best throughout February. Mars appears as a bright, ruddy object in the eastern sky at dusk and, at magnitude minus -1.3 in early Feb., shines brighter than any nighttime star except Sirius. The Red Planet is in the midst of performing a backward (retrograde) loop, moving westward, from left to right, against the background stars of Cancer. Mars passes 3-degrees north of the famous Beehive star cluster (M44) on Feb.6/7, an attractive conjunction best viewed through binoculars. Stunning SATURN appears in the constellation Virgo the Maiden, rising in the east after 10PM on Feb. 1st, & by 8PM at month's end. Saturn's brightness nearly matches that of 1st-magnitude Spica, Virgo's brightest star. Notice the color contrast between golden Saturn & blue-white Spica. Saturn's glorious ring system is visible through a small telescope. The rings currently tilt at a 5-degree angle to our line of sight from Earth. By the end of the year, they will tilt at 10-degrees, affording us sensational views. Look toward the west-southwest shortly after sunset, & the first object you'll see is JUPITER. The gas giant planet slides out of view in February, as it moves to the far side of the Sun, from our perspective on Earth. Jupiter reaches conjunction with the Sun on Feb. 28th, & will reappear in the morning sky in mid-March. VENUS reappears in our evening sky, at a dazzling magnitude of minus-3.9, possibly visible as soon as Feb. 10th. You'll need a clear view to the WSW horizon, 15-20 minutes after sunset. On Feb. 16th, Venus & Jupiter appear to slide past each other, within a single Moon-width apart. Look for the pair through binoculars, starting about 20 minutes after sunset. Venus will be easier to spot, although it lies only 3-degrees high & sets 40 minutes after the Sun. Jupiter appears to the upper right of Venus. Venus continues to climb higher in the sky as February progresses. By the 28th, it lies 4-degrees above the western horizon 30 minutes after sunset & sets 25 minutes later. Early risers might have a chance to see MERCURY, during the first 10-12 days of the month. Look for the tiny but bright innermost planet (magnitude minus -0.2), low in the southeast before sunrise. On Feb. 12th, the crescent Moon passes 4-degrees to the left of Mercury. And while you're out there early morning? See if you can spot the Southern Cross, (Crux), currently viewable from the Hawaiian Islands, from about 3:30AM until 5:30AM. You'll need an unobstructed view to the southern horizon. Look for 2 bright stars low in the South, Alpha & Beta Centauri, which point to the Roman-style "cross" asterism to their right (west). For a February sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

February 2010 VESTA - Large Astroid Brightens to View Hawaiian Islands & Mainland Viewing Here's your chance to SPOT AN ASTEROID! This month provides a perfect opportunity to track VESTA, the sky's brightest asteroid. Vesta, one of the largest, main-belt asteroids, brightens to magnitude 6.1 when it reaches opposition February 17/18. It will be visible to naked eyes from a dark viewing location, in the same binocular field of view as the 2nd-magnitude star Algieba (Gamma Leonis) in Leo. On the night of Feb. 16/17, Vesta passes between Algieba & it's 5th-magnitude southern neighbor, 40 Leonis. Aim your binoculars or low powered scope at Algieba, & you'll find the asteroid between these 2 stars. Algieba, part of Leo's famous "sickle" asterism, is well worth a look through the scope; a glorious double star system, consisting of 2 golden-orange giants, a genuine binary pair. Vesta was discovered by German astronomer Heinrich Olbers, March 29th, 1807.

January 2010 January Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands January is a great month for viewing MARS! Approximately every 26 months, the RED PLANET makes a grand appearance, & that time is NOW. Mars reaches opposition & peak visibility on January 29th, & will be visible from sunset to sunrise. Early in the month, Mars rises by 9 PM, & by late January it shines conspicuously in the east just after sunset. Mars passes from Leo the Lion into Cancer the Crab during the month. It appears distinctly reddish, & shines brighter than any other point of light in the sky except for Sirius (well to the right of Mars) & Jupiter, which will be setting in the west not long after Mars appears. For best telescopic viewing of Mars, wait until the planet climbs high in the sky, around midnight, when its light passes through less of Earth's turbulent atmosphere. By the time Mars reaches its highest position in the south, SATURN will be shining brightly in the southeast. Saturn appears in Virgo the Maiden, shining slightly brighter than Spica, Virgo's brightest star. Saturn's rings currently tilt 5 degrees to our line of sight, & should be visible through a small telescope. Saturn rises just after midnight in early January, & 2 hours earlier by the end of the month. Look toward the southwestern sky shortly after sunset, & the first object you'll see is JUPITER. The gas giant planet shines like a brilliant beacon against the background stars. Jupiter crosses from Capricornus into Aquarius during the first week in January. At the beginning of the month, Jupiter sets nearly 4 hours after the Sun, though it will be setting 2 hours earlier by months end. With a small telescope or good binoculars, you can view Jupiter's 4 bright Galilean moons in their ever-changing configurations. Galileo first saw them nearly 400 years ago with a 1.5-inch telescope of lower quality than any available today. You may be able to spot MERCURY, in the morning sky, as early as January 13th, high in the southeast, 30 minutes before sunrise. Mercury shines at magnitude 0.8 that morning, and brightens rapidly to magnitude minus -0.2 by January 26th, when it reaches greatest elongation ( its greatest angular distance from the Sun). The tiny innermost planet then lies 25 degrees west of the Sun & appears 9 degrees above the horizon, 30 minutes before sunrise. We won't be seeing VENUS this month, as it passes behind the Sun, reaching superior conjunction on January 11th (when it lies on the far side of the Sun from Earth). For a January sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

December 2009 December Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Behold our Winter skies! It's wonderful to experience Orion & his faithful hunting dogs, as well as Taurus, Gemini, & the other great constellations of Winter, returning to our night skies. JUPITER, at magnitude minus -2.2, is the brightest object in our evening skies, except for the Moon. Look for the stunning gas giant in the southwest just after sunset, among the relatively dim background stars of Capricornus the Sea Goat. With a small telescope or good binoculars, you can view Jupiter's 4 bright Galilean moons in their ever-changing configurations. Galileo first saw them nearly 400 years ago with a 1.5-inch telescope of lower quality than any available today. After a prolonged absence from the scene, MARS is finally returning to prominence. The Red Planet is rapidly approaching its best appearance in 2 years. Mars rises before 11PM on Dec. 1st, & 2 hours earlier by month's end. As Mars brightens substantially during December, (from magnitude minus -0.1 to minus ? 0.7), it will stand out prominently among the stars of Leo the Lion. SATURN rises at around 2AM in early December, & by midnight at month's end, & appears high in the south just before dawn. Saturn appears among the stars of western Virgo and, at magnitude 0.9, shines at about the same brightness as Spica, Virgo's brightest star. Observe the color contrast between golden Saturn & blue-white Spica. While Saturn's glorious rings have been edge-on to Earth in recent months, the tilt of the ring system is increasing rapidly, and the Ringed Planet is now a stunning view through a telescope. MERCURY shines brightly in the evening sky, beginning the second week in December, as it approaches "eastern elongation," its greatest distance from the Sun. Starting Dec. 9th, look for the tiny innermost planet, (glowing at magnitude minus ? 0.6), to appear 5 degrees above the south-western horizon, 30 minutes after sunset. Mercury climbs higher in the evening sky each day until Dec. 18th when, at elongation, it is 20 degrees from our Sun, & appears 8 degrees above the SW horizon, 30 minutes after sunset. On that night, a crescent Moon stands 6 degrees to Mercury's upper left. VENUS remains lost in the glare of the Sun this month, and will pass behind the Sun (as seen from Earth) in January. December 21st marks the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, when the Sun reaches its maximum distance south of the celestial equator. Watch for the Geminid meteor showers to peak the night of Dec.13/14 (see notes below). For a December sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

November 2009 November Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands The Sun is setting earlier now, with long evenings to enjoy Stargazing in our beautiful autumn skies. JUPITER, at magnitude minus -2.4, is the brightest object in our evening skies, except for the Moon. The gas giant planet reaches its greatest altitude ? directly in the south- shortly after sunset. With a small telescope or good binoculars, you can view Jupiter's 4 bright Galilean moons in their ever-changing configurations. Galileo first saw them nearly 400 years ago with a 1.5-inch telescope of lower quality than any available today. After a prolonged absence from the scene, MARS is finally returning to prominence. Mars rises at midnight on Nov. 1st, and by 11PM at month's end. The Red Planet brightens noticeably throughout the month & appears to grow larger. As the month opens, Mars passes thru the Beehive star cluster (M44), then spends the rest of November making its way thru Cancer the Crab, before crossing into neighboring constellation, Leo the Lion, on the 30th. Stunning VENUS rises from the Northeast, like a brilliant beacon, 90 minutes before the Sun on Nov. 1st. Our closest planetary "neighbor" easily outshines all other points of light in the sky & is so bright in fact, (magnitude minus -3.9) that radio stations often receive calls reporting it as a UFO! By month's end, Venus rises less than an hour before the Sun & will be hard to see in the bright twilight. SATURN rises much earlier & climbs higher into the predawn sky as November progresses. The Ringed Planet rises before 4:00 AM on Nov. 1st, & by 2:15 AM at month's end. Saturn appears among the stars of western Virgo and, at magnitude 1.1, shines at the same brightness as Spica, Virgo's brightest star. Observe the color difference between golden Saturn & blue-white Spica. While Saturn's glorious rings have been edge-on to Earth in recent months, the tilt of the ring system is increasing rapidly, and soon we will be able to view the Ringed Planet in all it's splendor. For November sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

November 16th-18th Leonid Meteor Shower Hawaiian Island Viewing The peak of the Leonid meteor shower coincides with the New Moon this month and, if the weather cooperates, we could be in for a great show! Under a dark sky, we would normally expect to see 20 to 40 meteors ("shooting stars") per hour, but predictions indicate that rates could SPIKE this year. (Possibly as many as 100 meteors/hour!) The Leonids should demonstrate some activity from Nov. 14-21, with the peak expected at/after 3AM on Tuesday morning, Nov. 17th. From around 2AM thru sunrise Tuesday morning, get yourself comfortably situated in the darkest area you can find. A lounge chair with blankets & a thermos with a hot beverage would be great. You DO NOT need a telescope or binoculars to see this, or any meteor shower. Just make sure you are warm & comfortable, find a dark spot, & scan the sky for streaks of light! These are fast moving meteors, striking Earth's atmosphere at 44 miles/second (160,000 miles/hour!), & appear to originate or "radiate" from the "sickle" shaped head of Leo, the Lion. Meteor showers occur when the Earth passes through the path of a comet. Tiny bits of debris left behind by comets, most no larger than a grain of sand, create a spectacular light show ("shooting stars") as they enter the Earth's atmosphere. The parent comet for the Leonids is 55P/Temple-Tuttle, which returns to orbit the Sun every 33 years & last visited our region of the solar system in 1997-98. As comet Temple-Tuttle nears the Sun, like any comet, it heats up and leaves a trail of debris behind it. It is these debris that the Earth intersects which produce the Leonid meteor showers. For more info visit http://meteorshowersonline.com/leonids.html

October 2009 October Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Scorpius, the giant Scorpion is setting by 11:00 PM, just as Orion the Hunter & his faithful dogs, Canis Major & Minor, rise. Fall season is upon us! As the Sun sets, look for brilliant JUPITER high in the sky nearly due South. The gas giant blazes in Eastern Capricornus, & shines far brighter than any other object in this dim region of the sky. With a small telescope or good binoculars, you can view Jupiter's 4 bright Galilean moons. Galileo first saw them nearly 400 years ago with a 1.5-inch telescope of lower quality than any available today. Jupiter's "neighbors" Uranus & Neptune both present excellent targets thru binoculars & telescopes throughout October. NEPTUNE appears in Capricornus while URANUS is crossing from Pisces into Aquarius around mid-month. The remaining four planets are viewable in the pre-dawn, morning sky. Mercury, Venus & Saturn appear near one another & low in morning twilight. MARS rises just after midnight, along with the background stars of Gemini. Normally the Twins host two 1st magnitude stars, brothers Castor & Pollux, but Mars appears as a 3rd bright object (perhaps a Gemini triplet?). At mag. 0.8, the ruddy Red Planet outshines the twin stars, & offers a nice color contrast to nearly pure white Castor & yellow-orange Pollux. Mars crosses into Cancer the Crab in mid-October & approaches the Beehive star cluster (M44) by month's end. Stunning VENUS rises from the Northeast, like a brilliant beacon, around 4:45 AM, & easily outshines all other points of light in the sky. Our closest planetary "neighbor" is so bright in fact, (magnitude minus -3.9), that radio stations often receive calls reporting it as a UFO! MERCURY rises 45 minutes after Venus (on Oct. 1st). The tiny innermost planet brightens each day throughout the month. When Mercury reaches western elongation on Oct. 5/6 (it's greatest angular distance from the Sun), it gleams at magnitude minus -0.6. It's a challenge to view SATURN in the predawn sky at the beginning of October, when it rises less than an hour before sunrise. On each successive morning tho', Saturn rises earlier & climbs higher into the sky, closing the gap with Venus. On Oct. 13th, Saturn & Venus appear a single Moon-width apart, with Mercury 6 degrees below the pair. On the morning of Oct. 16th, a crescent Moon lies well to the right of the planet trio. By the end of the month, Saturn rises 3 hours before the Sun, climbs to 20 degrees high prior to twilight, & provides fabulous views through a telescope. While Saturn's glorious rings have been edge-on to Earth in recent months, the tilt of the ring system is increasing rapidly, and soon we will be able to view the Ringed Planet in all it's splendor. For an October sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

Oct. 8th-9th LCROSS (Lunar Impact) Hawaiian Island Viewing NASA?s Lunar Crater & Observation Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) is scheduled to impact the Moon at 01:30 AM (early Friday morning) Oct. 9th. ?Projected impact at the lunar South Pole is currently: Oct 9, 2009 at 4:30 a.m. PDT. (That?s 1:30 AM Hawaiian Standard Time). Following four minutes behind, the shepherding spacecraft will fly through the debris plume, collecting and relaying data back to Earth before impacting the lunar surface and creating a second debris plume. The debris plumes are expected to be visible from Earth- and space-based telescopes 10-to-12 inches and larger.? For details on the LCROSS mission & event visit - www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/LCROSS/impact/index.html

September 2009 September Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Brilliant JUPITER dominates September's sky. Look for the gas giant, hanging low in the southeast after sunset. It climbs high in the south before midnight & sets just before dawn. The gas giant blazes in Eastern Capricornus, & shines far brighter than any other object in this dim region of the sky. With a small telescope or good binoculars, you can view Jupiter's 4 bright Galilean moons. Galileo first saw them nearly 400 years ago with a 1.5-inch telescope of lower quality than any available today. MARS rises around 1:15 AM, along with the background stars of Gemini. Normally the Twins host two 1st magnitude stars, brothers Castor & Pollux, but Mars appears as a 3rd bright object( perhaps a Gemini triplet?). The ruddy Red Planet appears slightly brighter than the stars, & offers a nice color contrast to nearly pure white Castor & yellow-orange Pollux. Stunning VENUS rises from the Northeast, like a brilliant beacon, around 4:15 AM, & easily outshines all other points of light in the sky. Our closest planetary "neighbor" is so bright in fact, (magnitude minus -3.9), that radio stations often receive calls reporting it as a UFO! Venus traverses thru the constellation Leo this month, & on Sept. 22nd appears next to the bright star Regulus, the "heart" of the Lion. (Venus outshines 1st magnitude Regulus by 100 times!) SATURN, is currently setting with the Sun and will not be readily viewable again until it reappears in the early morning sky in October. Look for the Summer Triangle, often called the Navigators Triangle, viewable after sunset, with bright stars Vega (in Lyra the Harp), Altair (in Aquila the Eagle), & Deneb (tail of Cygnus the Swan). The Autumnal Equinox occurs on Sept. 22nd here in Hawaii. This is the moment when the Sun crosses the celestial equator, marking the change in seasons from summer to fall. On the day of the equinox, the Sun rises exactly in the East, & sets exactly in the West, & day & night are the same length. After the equinox, the Sun will appear lower & lower in the sky & the days will grow shorter. For a September sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

August 2009 August Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Behold our spectacular summer skies! Glorious bands of Milky Way stars illuminate our dark Hawaiian sky with a rich, "milky" haze. Brilliant JUPITER reaches opposition this month, when it lies opposite the Sun in our sky, shines at its brightest (magnitude minus-2.9), & remains visible all night long. Watch for Jupiter to rise from the Southeast before 8 PM in early August. The gas giant blazes in Eastern Capricornus, & shines far brighter than any other object in this dim region of the sky. With a small telescope or good binoculars, you can view Jupiter's 4 bright Galilean moons. Galileo first saw them nearly 400 years ago with a 1.5-inch telescope of lower quality than any available today. Those with telescopes can have a final evening view of SATURN, setting shortly after the Sun in early August. Saturn becomes lost in the Sun's glow by the end of the month. Start looking for MERCURY about 30 minutes after sunset, low in the western sky. Mercury will appear to move across Leo & toward Saturn this month. On August 22nd, Mercury & Saturn will appear side by side with Mercury to the left of Saturn and a full magnitude brighter. On this same evening, a crescent Moon stands 9 degrees to Mercury's left, creating a lovely "lineup." Early risers will have great views of Mars & Venus, rising from the East by around 2AM & 4AM respectively, while Jupiter is setting in the West. MARS is traveling eastward through Taurus the Bull, & crosses into Gemini the Twins toward the end of the month. Stunning VENUS rises from the Northeast, like a brilliant beacon, about an hour before morning twilight, (2 hours before sunrise). Our closest planetary "neighbor" is so bright in fact, (magnitude minus -4.0), that radio stations often receive calls reporting it as a UFO! Venus traverses thru the constellation Gemini this month, & on Aug. 25th crosses into Cancer the Crab. Step outside at or before 5 AM & look to the East to see Mars & Venus; (Mars will appear S.W. of blazing Venus). Look toward the S.W. to spot Jupiter setting in this predawn sky. As for summer constellations, look for the Summer Triangle often called the Navigators Triangle, viewable after sunset, with bright stars Vega (in Lyra the Harp), Altair (in Aquila the Eagle), & Deneb (tail of Cygnus the Swan). Scorpius, the giant scorpion, is easily recognizable, as a "J" or fish-hook shape, (Ka Makau Nui O Maui), high in the Southeast at sunset. For an August sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

July 2009 July Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Behold our spectacular summer skies! Glorious bands of Milky Way stars illuminate our dark Hawaiian sky with a rich, "milky" haze. As July begins, you'll find SATURN above the Western horizon shortly after sunset. Saturn appears in the constellation Leo, just 15 degree to the upper left of Regulus, Leo's brightest star. It shines just slightly brighter than Regulus, the "heart" of the Lion. At magnitude 1.0, Saturn matches the bright star Spica, in the constellation Virgo, which lies about 40 degrees to the S.W. We will be unable to see Saturn's rings after early July, as the rings tilt edge-on to our line of site from Earth. Brilliant JUPITER rises from the Southeast around 10:15 PM in early July, & by 8:15 PM at months end. The gas giant blazes in Eastern Capricornus, & shines far brighter than any other object in this dim region of the sky. With a small telescope or good binoculars, you can view Jupiter's 4 bright Galilean moons. Galileo first saw them nearly 400 years ago with a 1.5-inch telescope of lower quality than any available today. Early risers can thrill to the sight of VENUS & MARS in the predawn sky. The pair rise in the East at approx. 4AM, & move among the stars of Taurus the Bull, throughout the month. (By this time, Jupiter is low in the S.W.). Hard to miss brilliant Venus, at magnitude MINUS -4.2, clearly the brightest object in the sky (except for the Moon). Mars appears SW of Venus, glowing with a ruddy reddish hue. As for summer constellations, look for the Summer Triangle often called the Navigators Triangle, viewable after sunset, with bright stars Vega (in Lyra the Harp), Altair (in Aquila the Eagle), & Deneb (tail of Cygnus the Swan). Scorpius, the giant scorpion, is easily recognizable, as a "J" or fish-hook shape, (Ka Makau Nui O Maui), in the Southeast at sunset. For a July sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

June 2009 June Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Warm summer evenings provide excellent opportunities for Stargazing this month. Shortly after sunset, you'll find SATURN more than one-third of the way up from the southwestern horizon, shining brighter than any of the stars in Leo, the constellation which currently hosts the ringed planet. At magnitude 1.0, Saturn matches the bright star Spica, in the constellation Virgo, which lies about 40 degrees to the S.W. A telescope will reveal Saturn's glorious rings and perhaps even Titan & other Saturnian moons. June & July will be our last opportunities to view Saturn before it begins to disappear into the Sun's glare in evening twilight. JUPITER blazes in the early morning sky this month, rising from the Southeast shortly after midnight. Jupiter appears in Capricornus, & shines far brighter than any other object in this dim region of the sky. Look for Jupiter's 4 bright Galilean moons. Galileo first saw them nearly 400 years ago with a 1.5-inch telescope of lower quality than any available today. VENUS & MARS rise within 15 minutes of each other in early June. Both will be up by 4:00 AM, joining Jupiter in the predawn sky. Brilliant Venus shines at magnitude (minus) -4.4 on June 5th & appears nearly 15 degrees high in the east an hour before sunrise. Venus passes 2 degrees south of Mars on June 19th. This conjunction looks especially impressive because a crescent Moon lies nearby. Venus stands 15 degrees above the eastern horizon at 4:30 AM with Mars to its upper left, & the Moon 7 degrees above the pair. THE SOUTHERN CROSS, in the constellation Crux, is currently viewable and is quite impressive. You'll need a cloudless view of the southern horizon. In early June, Crux rises in the southeast, tipped on its left side, at around 7 PM, & is high enough above the horizon to view by 8 PM. The Roman style "cross" asterism stands fully upright, due south, at 8:30 PM. At this time look for 2 bright stars, Alpha & Beta Centauri, "pointing" to it from the east. (Best viewing around 9PM in early June, 8PM from mid-month on). Note that Hawaii is one of the few places where we can see all the way from the North Star, Polaris (Hokupa'a), to the Southern Cross, a Polynesian navigational "star line" called Ka Iwikuamo'o, "The Backbone." For a June sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

May 2009 May Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Balmy spring nights provide wonderful opportunities for Stargazing in our magnificent Hawaiian skies. April 30th & May 1st provide the month's best views of MERCURY, which "pops out" of the Sun's glow, low in the West, approx. 30 minutes after sunset. The tiny innermost planet shines brightly (mag. 1.1) & appears close to the Pleiades star cluster (aka: the Seven Sisters), which begins to emerge from twilight soon after Mercury. Having reached it's "eastern elongation" (greatest angular distance from the Sun), Mercury will be now be heading back toward the Sun, & will reappear in the morning sky in June. You will find SATURN high in the South (nearly overhead), just after sunset, shining brighter than any of the stars in Leo, the constellation which currently hosts the ringed planet. Saturn appears South of the lion's hind quarters, slightly brighter than Regulus, the "heart" of the lion. Look thru any telescope to see Saturn's glorious rings. Enjoy viewing the Ringed Planet NOW, as the ring plane will start narrowing in June, & will soon be tilted edge-on to Earth. By late summer, Saturn will orbit to the far side of the Sun where it will not be visible from Earth. JUPITER blazes in the early morning sky this month, rising in the east around 2 AM at the beginning of May, and by midnight at months end. Jupiter appears in Capricornus, & shines far brighter than any other object in this dim region of the sky. Venus & Mars, rise within 20 minutes of each other in mid-May, joining Jupiter in the predawn sky. Hard to miss VENUS in the early morning, as it shines much brighter than any other object in the sky (except the Moon, of course). Venus rises from the east at around 4:15AM at the beginning of May, and by 3:30AM at months end. MARS is a bit more challenging to find, as a pale orange "dot," compared to brilliant Venus & Jupiter. Look for the Red Planet northeast of Venus, rising at around 4:30AM early in May, and by 4AM at the months end. On May 21, a waning crescent Moon stands 7 degrees to the upper left of Venus, while Mars appears 6 degrees directly below the Moon. THE SOUTHERN CROSS, in the constellation Crux, is currently viewable and is quite impressive. You'll need a cloudless view of the southern horizon. In early May, Crux rises in the southeast, tipped on its left side, at around 8 PM, & is high enough above the horizon to view by 9 PM. The Roman style "cross" asterism stands fully upright, due south, at 11:00 PM. At this time look for 2 bright stars, Alpha & Beta Centauri, "pointing" to it from the east. (Best viewing around 11PM in early May, 10PM at mid-month, & around 9PM at months end). Note that Hawaii is one of the few places where we can see all the way from the North Star, Polaris (Hokupa'a), to the Southern Cross, a Polynesian navigational "star line" called Ka Iwikuamo'o, "The Backbone." For a May sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

April 2009 April Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands April provides wonderful opportunities for spring stargazing in our magnificent Hawaiian skies. SATURN puts on a grand show this month & is viewable nearly all night long. You will find Saturn high in the southeast just after sunset, shining brighter than any of the stars in Leo, the constellation which currently hosts the ringed planet. Saturn is just southeast of the lion's hind quarters & appears twice as bright as Regulus, the "heart" of the lion. JUPITER blazes in the early morning sky this month, rising in the east around 4 AM at the beginning of April, and by 2:30 AM at months end. Jupiter appears in Capricornus, & shines far brighter than any other object in this dim region of the sky. Venus & Mars join Jupiter in the predawn sky, easier to spot by mid-April than at the start of the month. Hard to miss VENUS in the early morning, as it shines much brighter than any other object in the sky (except the Moon, of course). It will rise from the east at around 4:40 AM in the middle of April, and by 4AM at the end of the month. MARS is a bit more challenging to find as a pale orange "dot" compared to brilliant Venus & Jupiter. From April 12-16, look for Mars to the right of Venus in the pre-dawn sky. On April 18th the red planet slides below (south) of Venus and remains below Venus for the rest of the month. On the mornings of April 21st & 22nd, look for the waning crescent Moon to join the two planets. April is the best time this year to see MERCURY. Beginning the second week in April, Mercury begins to pop out of the Sun's glow after sunset. Start looking for Mercury around 7:15 PM, very low in the west. After April 8th, the tiny innermost planet appears progressively higher each night, as its angular distance from the Sun increases. On April 9th, Mercury shines as bright as Sirius, the sky's brightest star. From April 25-30, Mercury passes just below the spectacular Pleiades star cluster (AKA: the Seven Sisters). On April 26th look toward the western horizon around 7:45 PM for a stunning sight: a crescent Moon joins Mercury & the Pleiades in the deepening twilight. THE SOUTHERN CROSS, in the constellation Crux, is viewable in the late night & early morning hours. You'll need a cloudless view of the southern horizon. In mid-April, Crux rises in the southeast, tipped on its left side, at around 9 PM, & is high enough above the horizon to view by 10 PM. The Roman style "cross" asterism stands fully upright, due south, at 11:30 PM. At this time look for 2 bright stars, Alpha & Beta Centauri, "pointing" to it from the east. (Best viewing between 11:30PM & 12:30AM in mid April. Note that Hawaii is one of the few places where we can see all the way from the North Star, Polaris (Hokupa'a), to the Southern Cross, a Polynesian navigational "star line" called Ka Iwikuamo'o, "The Backbone." For further details & an April sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

April 16 -25; Peak April 21 - 22 Lyrid Meteor Shower Hawaiian Island Viewing The annual Lyrid meteor shower could be quite good this year as peak activity occurs close to the New Moon. This year the Lyrids are expected to peak in a Moon-free sky, around 1AM (HST) on Wednesday morning, April 22nd. Under clear skies, from a dark viewing location, we might expect to see as many as 20 meteors (shooting stars) per hour. From around midnight, (Tuesday night) thru sunrise Wednesday morning, get yourself comfortably situated in the darkest area you can find. A lounge chair with blankets & a thermos with a hot beverage would be great. You DO NOT need a telescope or binoculars to see this, or any meteor shower. Just make sure you are warm & comfortable, find a dark spot, & scan the sky for streaks of light! Tuesday night into Wednesday morning would be an excellent time for camping under the (shooting) stars.... (While you're out there - look for Jupiter, Venus & Mars in the pre-dawn sky). These meteors will appear to ?radiate? from the constellation Lyra, near it's border with Hercules. While the peak occurs on the morning of April 22nd, the Lyrids are active from April 16-25 so you may see some Lyrid meteors anytime during this period. Lyrids meteors are bright & swift (traveling at an average speed of 30 miles per SECOND!) & often leave trails. Meteor showers occur when the Earth passes thru the path of a comet. The tiny bits of debris left behind by comets, most no larger than a grain of sand, create a spectacular light show as they enter (& burn up) in Earth's atmosphere.

March 2009 March Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands VENUS continues to BLAZE in the western sky at dusk, although it appears lower in sky each night. Venus sets 3 hours after the Sun at the beginning of March, & just 1 hour after sunset on March 20th. On March 27th, Venus will pass between the Earth & Sun, then reappear in our morning sky, rising in the east at 5:45 AM on March 31st. SATURN is at peak visibility this month, as it reaches "opposition" on March 8th, when it lies directly opposite the Sun. Saturn will be rising at sunset & will be viewable all night, Opposition also brings Saturn closet to Earth, a mere 780 MILLION miles! Saturn appears as the brightest object in its host constellation LEO, beneath the Lion's hindquarters. Saturn's glorious ring system is barely viewable because it currently tilts nearly edge on to our line of sight from Earth. Early in March, look for a "gathering" of Jupiter, Mercury & Mars in the eastern predawn sky (from approx. 6:00-6:15 AM). JUPITER shines brightly (mag. minus -2.0), & can be seen even as the rising Sun begins to lighten the sky. Jupiter remains in morning twilight throughout the month, climbing slowly higher as the month progresses. MARS returns to our sky this month, rising in the east just prior to sunrise. Mars is still quite faint, due to its great distance from Earth, however it will be rising earlier & brightening steadily as the month progresses & throughout the rest of the year. Using brilliant Jupiter as a guide, you can find Mars in binoculars, approx. 6 degrees to Jupiter's lower left. Look for the waning crescent Moon between Jupiter & Mars on the morning of March 23rd & next to Mars on March 24. MERCURY will appear lower & lower in the sky at daybreak. March 10th will be our last opportunity to view the tiny innermost planet before it's lost in the glare of daybreak. Until then, Mercury will appear substantially brighter than Mars & just below (N.E. of) Mars on the eastern horizon. The Southern Cross, in the constellation Crux, is viewable in the early morning & late night hours. You'll need a cloudless view of the southern horizon. At the beginning of March, Crux rises in the southeast, tipped on its left side, at around 11:45 PM, & stands erect when due south by 2:15 AM. By the end of the month, Crux rises at 9:45 PM, & will be due south by 12:15 AM. When the Cross stands fully upright, look for 2 bright stars, Alpha & Beta Centauri, "pointing" to it from the east. Note when viewing that Hawaii is one of the few places where we can see all the way from the North Star, Polaris (Hokupa'a), to the Southern Cross, a Polynesian navigational "star line" called Ka Iwikuamo'o, "The Backbone." Enjoy viewing the splendid constellations of Winter, with some of the brightest stars in our sky: Orion, Taurus, Leo, Gemini, Canis Major, Cassiopeia, & other Winter favorites. Download a March skymap from Bishop Museum Planetarium (below), hold it over your head with the N. pointing North, & watch the sky come alive as you locate & identify these constellation "asterisms" (patterns) & learn to make sense of our magnificent Hawaiian night sky. For further details & a March sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

February 2009 February Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands VENUS continues to BLAZE in the western sky at dusk. Venus remains brilliant for the entire month, dominating our evening skies, brighter in mid-February than at any other time this year. Venus will set at around 9:30 PM early in the month, & by 9PM at month's end. As Venus descends in the west, look for SATURN rising in the east. Saturn appears in the back end of the constellation Leo the Lion, rising at 9PM at the start of the month, & nearly 2 hours earlier by the 28th. It appears as the most conspicuous object between Regulus, Leo's brightest star, and Virgo's luminary star Spica. Saturn's glorious ring system is barely viewable because it currently tilts nearly edge on to our line of sight from Earth. Look for a nearly Full Moon near Saturn on Feb. 10th & 11th. At the end of February, our 3 other "naked-eye" planets will gather in the pre-dawn sky. On Feb. 22nd, just after 6AM, look for JUPITER, MERCURY, & a slim crescent Moon to line up in the southeastern sky. Mercury will be to the left of the Moon, & Jupiter (much brighter) to the left of Mercury. And if you have clear skies, you might even spot MARS, to the left of Jupiter. Look for this three-planet gathering from Feb. 22nd thru the end of the month, from 6 AM to about 6:20. Mercury will pass below Jupiter on Feb. 23rd, & will be in between Jupiter & Mars for the remainder of the month. The Southern Cross, in the constellation Crux, is viewable in the early morning, prior to dawn. You'll need a cloudless view of the southern horizon. At the beginning of Feb., Crux rises in the southeast at around 2AM, & is due south (& upright) by 4:30AM. By the end of the month, Crux rises at midnight, & will be due south by 2:30AM. Suggest viewing before 5AM, as the later it gets, the Cross starts to sink into the southwestern horizon. Note when viewing at this time of morning, that Hawaii is one of the few places where we can see all the way from the North Star, Polaris (Hokupa'a), to the Southern Cross, a Polynesian navigational "star line" called Ka Iwikuamo'o, "The Backbone." For further details & a February sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

February 28, 3:00PM - 9:00PM The Hawaiian Sky Tonight: A Starwatch Program Waimea High School & Kaumakani Ball Field Kauai Community School for Adults is offering this one night course, taught by astronomy educator Rozlyn Reiner, an opportunity to learn about & visually explore our magnificent Hawaiian skies. There will first be an exciting multimedia presentation, at Waimea High School, from 3:00 - 5:45 PM. Discover the life cycle of stars & our Sun's place in the Milky Way Galaxy. Learn to recognize the constellations as they appear in the sky. Learn to use a sky map to locate & identify stars, constellations, planets, & other celestial objects. The class will then drive to Kaumakani (10 minutes) to participate in the KEASA public starwatch (weather permitting). Enjoy a guided sky tour led by astronomy educators using sky maps, laser pointers & helpful visual aids, as well as telescopes & binoculars. Hear legends about the stars & explanations of special "events" of the solar system. Fee for the course is $18.00 plus $3 lab fee. Class size is limited & ADVANCED REGISTRATION REQUIRED, by calling KCSA at (808) 274-3390. For further info, please call (808)652-2373, or email: roz@rozhome.com

Feb.9th; Moon darkest at 04:30AM Penumbral Lunar Eclipse Hawaiian Islands Viewing There will be a Penumbral Lunar Eclipse, viewable from Hawaii, in the early morning hours of February 9th. (Monday MORNING). In a penumbral eclipse, the full Moon passes into the outer or penumbral shadow of the Earth. While many penumbral eclipses have few observable effects, the February 9th lunar eclipse will carry the Moon far enough into the light gray shadow to produce a distinctive darkening of the northern half of the Moon. While we will NOT see the Moon turn a deep copper color, as we often experience during a full lunar eclipse, a dusky shading of the Moon's northern half should be easily visible to the naked eye. The darkening will start around 2:45 AM on Monday morning. The Moon will appear darkest at around 4:30AM, & the eclipse will be over about 6:30 as dawn begins to break. Keep in mind that the beginning & end of a penumbral eclipse are not visible to the eye. In fact, no shading can be detected until about 2/3 of the Moon's disk is immersed in the penumbra. Best viewing then would be between 4AM and 5:20. (While you're out there observing the eclipse, look to the southern horizon for the Southern Cross (Crux) - See notes below).

January 2009 January Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Behold our Winter skies! It's wonderful to view Orion & his faithful hunting dogs, as well as Taurus, Gemini, Pegasus, Andromeda & other Winter constellations in our night skies. Following the JUPITER/MERCURY conjunction in early January (see below), both of these planets will be setting with the Sun. & by mid-month leave VENUS to BLAZE alone, high in the Southwestern sky at dusk. On Jan. 14th, Venus reaches its greatest distance from the Sun, 47 degrees, & appears brighter than any other point of light in the sky. Throughout the month, Venus will brighten steadily to a magnitude of minus 4.7 by month's end, and will set in the west at approximately 9:30 PM. Watch after sunset on Jan. 29th, when a small crescent Moon lies 6 degrees west of Venus. By mid-month, look for SATURN to rise due east at around 10 PM, and by 9 PM at months end. Saturn appears as the most conspicuous object between Regulus, Leo's brightest star, and Virgo's luminary star Spica. Saturn's glorious ring system is barely viewable because it currently tilts nearly edge on to our line of sight from Earth. MARS passed on the far side of the Sun in early December & will remain out of sight throughout January. Mars will not be viewable until early March when it returns to our predawn sky. The Southern Cross, in the constellation Crux, is viewable in the early morning, prior to dawn. You'll need a cloudless view of the southern horizon. At mid-month,the Southern Cross rises around 3 AM & by 2 AM at the end of the month. Note at this time of morning, that Hawaii is one of the few places where we can see all the way from the North Star, Polaris (Hokupa'a), to the Southern Cross, a Polynesian navigational "star line" called Ka Iwikuamo'o, "The Backbone." For further details & a January sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

Dec. 25th - January 4th Jupiter - Mercury Conjunction Hawaiian Islands While we recently experienced a conjunction of Venus & Jupiter (from late November thru early December), watch for yet another "planetary gathering" as Jupiter pairs with Mercury, viewable from Dec.25th thru Jan. 4th. While brilliant Venus blazes high in the Southwestern sky after sunset, Jupiter & Mercury will appear lower toward the southwestern horizon, from around 6:40 PM until 7:15, when Jupiter sets. On Monday night, Dec. 29th, look toward the southwest at 6:40. To view the low, lovely conjunction, you'll need a flat, cloudless view of the SW horizon. (Looking out to the ocean from south or west Kauai is ideal). Jupiter, (mag. -2.0) is quite bright (tho' not nearly as bright as Venus, mag. -4.4). As the sky darkens, Mercury (mag. -0.7) will appear just slightly SW of Jupiter. The slim crescent Moon will be just (NE) above the pair, between Venus & the conjunct planets. On Dec. 30, the Moon moves up to visit Venus, well above Jupiter & Mercury, which will appear to be side by side. On Dec. 31, Jupiter & Mercury will still appear close, while the Moon will be just NE of Venus. Each night after Jan. 1st, Jupiter sinks lower in the western sky at sunset & becomes more difficult to see. Meanwhile, Mercury climbs higher until it reaches its January 4th eastern elongation (furthest distance from the Sun), when it's viewable for 90 minutes after sunset.

January 2-3, 2009 Quadrantid Meteor Shower Hawaiian Islands & Mainland U.S. The beginning of January can be an exciting time for meteor watchers as the Quadrantid meteor shower is one of the strongest meteor showers of the year. This year, the Quadrantids are expected to peak in a Moon-free sky, around 3AM (HST) on Saturday morning, Jan. 3rd. Under clear skies, from a dark viewing location, we might expect to see as many as 100 meteors (shooting stars) per hour. From around 3:00 AM, thru sunrise Saturday morning, get yourself comfortably situated in the darkest area you can find. A lounge chair with blankets & a thermos with a hot beverage would be great. You DO NOT need a telescope or binoculars to see this, or any meteor shower. Just make sure you are warm & comfortable, find a dark spot, & scan the sky for streaks of light! Friday night into Saturday morning would be an excellent time for camping under the (shooting) stars.... These meteors will appear to ?radiate? from the constellation Bo?tes, the constellation in which Hawaii's beloved zenith star, Hokule'a (Arcturus) resides. Bo?tes will be fully up in the Northeast by 3AM on the morning of January 3rd. Look in the direction of the Big Dipper & let the light show begin! Meteor showers occur when the Earth passes thru the path of a comet. The bits of debris left behind by comets, most no larger than a grain of sand, create a spectacular light show as they enter (& burn up) in Earth's atmosphere. There is evidence that Quadrantid meteors come from "2003-EH1", an "asteroid" that is probably a piece of a comet that broke apart some 500 years ago. Earth intersects the orbit of 2003-EH1 at a perpendicular angle, which means we quickly move through any debris. That is why the shower is so brief, lasting only a couple of hours.

December 2008 December Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Behold our Winter skies! It's wonderful to view Orion & his faithful hunting dogs, as well as Taurus, Gemini & other Winter constellations, returning to our night skies. VENUS & JUPITER still appear close to each other in early December. Our two brightest planets sparkle in the southwest after sunset. Following a spectacular conjunction on Nov.30th, the pair now appear to be drawing apart, further by approx. 1 degree each evening. While Venus, our brightest planet, climbs higher in the western sky, Jupiter appears to descend lower & lower into the twilight. Around Dec. 15th, look for Venus & Jupiter from about 6:45 PM until 8 PM, when Jupiter sets. Jupiter remains in Sagittarius throughout the month, while Venus crosses Capricornus & ends the year in Aquarius. MERCURY joins Jupiter for yet another "planetary gathering," visible by Dec. 25th. Look for Mercury about halfway between Jupiter & the western horizon around 6:25 PM. Easy to spot the pair Dec.29th, when a faint crescent Moon lies nearby. On Dec. 31st, Jupiter & Mercury will appear side by side in conjunction, with the Moon above the pair & adjacent to Venus. You'll need to view between 6:30 PM, when it's dark enough to see Jupiter & Mercury, and 7PM when these planets set. SATURN is the only planet visible in the morning sky. Saturn rises almost exactly due east at 2AM in early December, and by 12:15 AM at months end. You'll find it high in south prior to dawn, near the border between Leo & Virgo. Saturn appears dimmer now (mag. 1.1) as it's glorious rings, which typically reflect more light than the planet's disk, appear almost edge-on to our line of sight from Earth. MARS will be traveling behind the Sun this month & will not be viewable until it returns to our morning sky in March. From Dec.10th into January, we'll be able to view Crux, the Southern Cross, in the early morning prior to dawn. You'll need a cloudless view of the southern horizon. Around Dec. 10th the Southern Cross rises around 5:45AM & the sky starts to lighten by 6. On Dec. 25th, it will rise at around 4:45 so you'll have over an hour to spot it before daybreak. By New Year's Eve, Crux is up by 3:45 AM. For further details & a December sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

November 2008 November Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Shortly after sunset, it's hard to miss VENUS, gleaming brilliantly in the southwest, the brightest object in the night sky, other than the Moon. At the same time, look for JUPITER, the second brightest object, high in the southwest, to the upper left of Venus. Jupiter appears among the stars of eastern Sagittarius, near the handle of the "teapot" asterism. In early November, Venus & Jupiter will appear approx. 30 degrees apart, (Venus the brighter & lower of the two). Watch as the two planets seem to move closer to each other, narrowing the gap between them by about 1 degree each night. On Nov. 30th, Venus & Jupiter will "meet" for a "conjunction." Just after sunset, Venus appears only 2 degrees south of Jupiter, with a lovely crescent Moon just below the pair. Catch this trio before it sets, at around 8:15 PM. SATURN, will be rising in the east by 3:00 AM in early November, & by 1:15 AM at month's end. Saturn appears to be dimming, as the angle of its rings to our line of sight is steadily decreasing. The rings typically reflect more light than the planet's disk, & since we are approaching a time when the rings will appear edge-on as viewed from Earth, the entire planet seems to fade. Saturn currently appears in the southern part of the constellation Leo, slightly brighter than Regulus, the star which is the "heart" of the Lion. MERCURY is visible in the morning sky for the first few days of November, rising in the east at 5:45AM. The tiny innermost planet stands 4 degrees to the left of Spica, and clearly outshines this brightest star in Virgo. On Nov. 2nd, you'll have about 45 minutes to view Mercury before the rising Sun begins to lighten the sky. However, the planet rises later each day and, by Nov. 5th, will be lost in the glare of the rising Sun. MARS is traveling behind the Sun this month, & will not reappear (in our morning sky) until the end of 2008. Bid farewell to Scorpius & other Summer constellations, & welcome the stars of Winter. As the giant Scorpion (Maui's Fishhook) sets with the Sun, look overhead & use a skymap to locate & view the Great Square of Pegasus, Andromeda & Cassiopeia (to the North). The Summer Triangle stars & constellations are still viewable until the end of the month (Vega in Lyra the Harp, Deneb in Cygnus the Swan, & Altair in Aquilla the Eagle). Taurus the Bull, with the Pleiades (7-Sisters) on his back, is up by 8PM, and Orion the Hunter is viewable, rising in the East by 9PM. For further details & a November sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

November 29, 5:45 PM KEASA PUBLIC STARWATCH Kaumakani Ball Field The Kauai Educational Association for Science & Astronomy, KEASA, presents its monthly public STARWATCH, beginning at sunset Saturday November 29th, at the softball field in Kaumakani. For more information, including directions to this excellent viewing site, visit www.keasa.org (keasa.org). For recorded directions phone 808.332-STAR(7827). Feel free to call (808)652-2373, on Saturday late afternoon, for weather updates affecting Starwatch for that evening.

Nov.1st-10th Taurid Meteor Shower Hawaiian Island Viewing A lesser known meteor shower, the Taurids, may put on a nice show this year, with more activity than usual & lots of bright fireballs. With a small crescent Moon setting before midnight the first week of November, & under dark, clear skies, we might be able to view as many as 12 meteors ("shooting stars") per hour, including numerous slow-moving fireballs. Best viewing after midnight & just prior to sunrise Nov. 1st - 10th, with peak activity expected before dawn on Nov. 5th. Taurid meteors are so named because they appear to originate or "radiate" from the constellation Taurus, the Bull, which sits low in the east a few hours after sunset, & is almost directly overhead by around 1:30 AM. Most of us are more familiar with the Leonid Meteor Shower, which peaks on November 17th. However this year a bright gibbous Moon might interfere with our chance to see all but the brightest Leonid meteors. Meteor showers occur when the Earth passes thru the path of a comet. Every year in late October and early November, Earth passes through a river of space dust associated with Comet 2P/Encke. Tiny grains hit our atmosphere at 65,000 MPH. At that speed, even a tiny smidgen of dust makes a vivid streak of light--a meteor--when it disintegrates.

October 2008 October Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Our two brightest planets, Venus & Jupiter, grace our early evening sky this month. Shortly after sunset, it's hard to miss VENUS, shining brilliantly low in the west-southwest. Venus (at magnitude -3.9) appears as the brightest object in the night sky, other than the Moon. At the same time, look for JUPITER, the second brightest object, about halfway up in the southwestern sky at dusk. Jupiter appears among the stars of eastern Sagittarius, near the handle of the "teapot" asterism. In early October, Venus & Jupiter will appear approx. 60 degrees apart, (Venus to the right/west of Jupiter). Watch how the two bright planets seem to move closer to each other as the month progresses to where, at the end of the month, they will appear only about 30 degrees apart. On Oct. 26th, Venus will pass just 3 degrees north of Antares, the red supergiant star which is the "heart" of Scorpius, the Scorpion. (AKA: Maui's fishhook). On Oct. 31st, Halloween night, at around 6:45 PM, look for a slender crescent Moon just below Venus and to the left of Antares. Venus will be setting around 8 PM throughout October. Earlier risers will be able to view SATURN, rising in the east by 4:50 AM in early October, & by 3 AM at month's end. Saturn appears to be dimming, as the angle of its rings to our line of sight is steadily decreasing. The rings typically reflect more light than the planet's disk, & since we are approaching a time when the rings will appear edge-on as viewed from Earth. the entire planet seems to fade. Saturn currently appears in the constellation Leo, slightly brighter than Regulus, the star which is the "heart" of the Lion. MERCURY will be visible in the morning sky later in October. From Oct. 22-31, Mercury seems to hang below Saturn, rising just before 5:30AM, nearly due east. On Oct. 25 & 26, look for a crescent Moon between Saturn & Mercury at around 5:50 AM. By month's end, the tiny innermost planet shines as bright as Sirius, the brightest star in our sky. MARS is traveling behind the Sun this month, & will not reappear (in our morning sky) until the end of 2008. On Thursday Oct. 16th, from 10-11:45 PM, the Moon will move across the Pleiades star cluster, also known as the Seven Sisters & Makali'i ("little eyes"). This beautiful open star cluster, on the back of Taurus the Bull, is easy to spot with naked eye, & a superb sight through binoculars. It contains about 100 stars (relatives & extended family of the sisters perhaps?) & lies approx. 395 light years from Earth. Watching the Moon glide thru the Pleiades is truly a sight to behold! For further details & an October sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

October 25, 6:00 PM KEASA presents PUBLIC STARWATCH Kaumakani Ball Field The Kauai Educational Association for Science & Astronomy, KEASA, presents its monthly public STARWATCH, beginning at sunset Saturday October 25th, at the softball field in Kaumakani. For more information, including directions to this excellent viewing site, visit www.keasa.org (keasa.org). For recorded directions phone 808.332-STAR(7827). Feel free to call (808)346-5796, on Saturday late afternoon, for weather updates affecting Starwatch for that evening.

September 2008 September Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Four of the five "naked-eye viewable" planets grace the sky after sunset in early September. Brilliant VENUS appears in the darkening twilight, hanging low in the western sky. Hard to miss our brightest planet, which can serve as a beacon to locate fainter Mercury & Mars, as long as you have a clear view toward the western horizon. Just to the left/south of blazing Venus look for MERCURY. In early September the two planets appear within 3 degrees of each other. The two move in step nightly as they appear to close in on MARS which shines much fainter. Mars starts off the month approx. 3 degrees above (east of) Mercury & Venus. On Sept.10th, 11th & 12th, look to the west from about 7:15-7:45PM, for a fascinating conjunction; a planetary "gathering" of Venus, Mars, & Mercury near the bright star Spica, in the constellation Virgo. Venus & Mars will appear very close to one another (a mere 0.3 degrees apart), while Mercury hangs just below & to the left/south of the pair. Toward the end of the month, Mercury & Mars will be lost in the evening twilight while Venus will climb higher in the southwest evening sky. Stunning JUPITER dominates the southern half of the sky all night, gleaming brightly in the south at dust. Jupiter appears among the stars of eastern Sagittarius, near the handle of the "teapot" asterism. SATURN reaches solar conjunction September 3rd, when it lies on the opposite side of the Sun from Earth, & thus not visible. It then passes into the morning sky, where it rises just before 5 AM, low in the east, by month's end. Scorpius, the giant scorpion is easily recognizable, as a "J" or fish-hook shape, (Ka Makau Nui O Maui), in the southern sky. Antares, the red supergiant star which is in the middle of the scorpion's curving body, is one of the largest stars in our stellar neighborhood. You'll find Scorpius & Antares just to the right /west of Jupiter. The Autumnal Equinox occurs on Sept. 22nd here in Hawaii. This is the moment when the Sun crosses the celestial equator, marking the change in seasons from summer to fall. On the day of the equinox, the Sun rises exactly in the East, & sets exactly in the West, & day & night are the same length. After the equinox, the Sun will appear lower & lower in the sky & the days will grow shorter. For further details & a September sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

August 2008 August Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Brilliant JUPITER dominates the southern half of the sky all night. The gas giant gleams from high in the southeastern sky at sunset. Jupiter appears among the stars of eastern Sagittarius, near the handle of the "teapot" asterism. Four planets are viewable in the Western sky for a short period just after sunset. VENUS stands out as the brightest object in the western sky after sunset. In the first week of August, look to the West at around 7:45 PM & you may be able to spot SATURN as a white dot to the upper left of Venus. Watch during the first 2 weeks of August as Venus & Saturn close in on each other. (The 2 planets appear closest on August 13th). Look for the pale orange glow of MARS to the upper left of Saturn. Watch for MERCURY to join the planetary "gathering" August 14th -16th. On August 15th, at around 7:30 PM, look for a tight clustering of Venus, Saturn, & Mercury, low on the Western horizon, with Mars to the upper left (SE) of the trio. Venus will be relatively easy to spot, while Saturn & Mercury, just below Venus, might require binoculars. (Mercury is the brighter of the two). The 3 conjunct planets will be setting by 7:45. Scorpius, the giant scorpion is easily recognizable, as a "J" or fish-hook shape, (Ka Makau Nui O Maui), in the southern sky. Antares, the red supergiant star which is in the middle of the scorpion's curving body, is one of the largest stars in our stellar neighborhood. For further details and an August sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

Aug. 11th-12th, Midnight Perseid Meteor Showers Hawaiian Island Viewing The Perseid Meteor Shower is expected to peak the evening of Monday-Tuesday, August 11-12. The best time to view the meteors ("shooting stars") is after 11:30 PM on Monday night & especially after the Moon sets at around 2:00 AM Tuesday morning. The Perseids typically produce lots of bright meteors, many leaving luminous trails visible for several seconds. These are fast meteors with a velocity of about 36 miles/sec or 130,000 miles/hour! We can expect to see between 60 & 100 meteors per hour from a dark, clear viewing site. Perseid meteors appear to originate or "radiate" from the constellation Perseus, "the hero" which will be rising in the Northeast at around 11:30 (HST). Activity increases during the early morning hours when Perseus is overhead & the Earth turns skywatchers into the oncoming stream of comet debris. Note that the meteors are visible to the naked eye; no special equipment is required. (A reclining chair perhaps?) Meteor showers occur when the Earth passes through the path of a comet. The bits of debris left behind by the comets, most no larger than a grain of sand, create a spectacular light show as they enter the Earth's atmosphere. The Perseids' parent comet is 109/P Swift-Tuttle, which last visited our region of the Solar System in 1992. It returns to orbit the Sun approximately every 130 years.

July 2008 July Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Perhaps the most exciting celestial event of the summer is the conjunction of Mars & Saturn in Leo. (See notes above). Watch nightly as Mars slowly catches up to Saturn (July 10th) and overtakes the orbit of slower moving Saturn. MARS will pass through Leo on the way to Virgo by month's end. This is the last month to view SATURN before it slips into the solar glare, to reappear in about 2 months in the morning sky. Brilliant JUPITER is in opposition now, which means it is on the opposite side of our sky from the Sun. The gas giant rises in the east as the Sun sets & appears at its biggest & brightest, dominating the sky all night long. Jupiter appears among the stars of eastern Sagittarius, near the handle of the "teapot" asterism. VENUS is slowly pulling away from the Sun & returning to the evening sky, though it will be difficult to spot until mid-month. Watch for Venus, (on the west-northwest horizon at sunset) to track through the Beehive star cluster in Cancer (M44) on July 18th, then cross into Leo on the 26th, when it will set 50 minutes after the Sun. MERCURY is visible in the morning sky in early July, rising around 4:30 AM in Taurus, the Bull. By mid-month, the innermost planet drops out of visibility as it moves back toward the Sun, to reappear in the evening sky in early September. Scorpius, the giant scorpion is easily recognizable, as a "J" or fish-hook shape, (Ka Makau Nui O Maui), in the southeast at sunset. Early in the month, you'll be able to see the Southern Cross viewable just after sunset, low on the southern horizon. The two bright stars above the southern horizon, Alpha & Beta Centauri, "point" to the Cross to their west. By mid-month, "Crux," (the proper name for this constellation), will be setting with the Sun. Hawaii is one of the few places where we can see all the way from the North Star, Polaris (Hokupa'a), to the Southern Cross, a Polynesian navigational "star line" called Ka Iwikuamo'o, "The Backbone." For further details and a July sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

July 5th, 9th & 10th Mars & Saturn Conjunction in Leo Hawaiian Islands & Mainland U.S. On the evening of July 5th, a thin crescent Moon hangs below Saturn, Mars, & Regulus (the brightest star in the constellation Leo), creating an intriguing ?celestial line-up.? Viewing from west to east, you will see the Moon next to Regulus, followed by Mars & then Saturn. Mars appears a ruddy rust color, between blue-white Regulus, & pale yellow Saturn (the brightest of the 3). Under clear skies, the line-up should be viewable in the west as soon as it?s dark enough after sunset; (by 8:15 PM). You?ll want to view early however, because this gathering will set by 10PM. On July 9th & 10th, there will be a conjunction of Mars & Saturn in Leo. While the planets are actually separated by 817 million miles, they are currently placed in their orbits so that, as viewed from Earth, they appear close to each other. While Saturn takes 29 years to orbit the Sun, Mars completes an orbit in 687 days. Over the past few weeks, Mars has been slowly creeping closer to Saturn. Observe as the Red Planet moves closer each night, catching up with slower orbiting Saturn on July 9th-10th. (I think of the planets as being on concentric race tracks, with faster moving Mars overtaking slower Saturn). Mars then pulls away from Saturn as they both drop closer to the western horizon at sunset. On July 10th the 2 planets will APPEAR to be separated by only 42 arc minutes. Although the planets will be closest on July 10th, the 9th is also good for viewing.

June 2008 June Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Three planets adorn our night skies this month. As the sky darkens in early June, Saturn & Mars appear high in the southwestern sky. SATURN sits just east of Regulus, Leo's brightest star, & easily outshines the "heart" of the Lion. On June 7th & 8th, watch for the Moon to pass just south of Regulus & Saturn. Saturn's ring system is beginning to tilt "edge-on" to our view from Earth. In late 2008, & through much of 2009, the rings will disappear from our view. This month, however, the rings are magnificent! You'll need at least a 30x telescope to view them. MARS crosses from Cancer into Leo this month, & will close within 0.7 degrees of Regulus by June 30th. Watch as the Red Planet edges closer towards Regulus & yellowish Saturn, as it moves toward a conjunction with Saturn in July. Brilliant JUPITER, rises in the southeast by 10PM early in the month, and by 8PM at month's end. Jupiter appears among the stars of eastern Sagittarius, near the handle of the "teapot" asterism, and dominates the sky all night long as the brightest object except for the Moon. (VENUS shines brighter but is currently behind the Sun & will not be viewable for another month). MERCURY is passing in front of the Sun for most of June & will reappear in the morning sky during the last few days of the month, hanging to the lower left of Aldebaran, the red eye of Taurus the Bull. Look for the Southern Cross viewable just after sunset, low on the southern horizon. Hawaii is one of the few places where we can see all the way from the North Star, Polaris (Hokupa'a), to the Southern Cross, a Polynesian navigational "star line" called Ka Iwikuamo'o, "The Backbone." The SUN reaches its northernmost declination along the ecliptic on June 20th, the summer solstice. This is when our Sun crosses the celestial equator, from the southern hemisphere into the northern hemisphere, the longest day of the year (greatest number of daylight hours). For further details and a June sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

May 2008 May Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands As the sky darkens in early May, Saturn & Mars are high in the southwestern sky. SATURN, almost directly overhead at sunset, easily outshines nearby Regulus, the "heart" of Leo the Lion, which sits just west of the ringed planet. Saturn's ring system is beginning to tilt "edge-on" to our view from Earth. In late 2008, & through much of 2009, the rings will disappear from our view. This month, however, the rings are magnificent! You'll need at least a 30x telescope to view them. (Join us at a KEASA Starwatch & SEE for yourself). MARS appears near the head of Gemini brother Pollux at the beginning of May, then crosses into Cancer. On May 9th, look for the waxing Moon 6? to the west of Mars, & on May 10th, 6? to the east. May 21-23, Mars passes through the Beehive star cluster (M44) in Cancer, offering some great binocular viewing; the ruddy Red Planet shining brightly against a background of the Beehive's few hundred stars. The constellation Cancer has few bright stars discernible from the city, though under dark skies, I'm usually able to find the Beehive. With naked eyes it appears as a hazy patch or "smudge" between Pollux (in Gemini) & Regulus (in Leo). Try locating Cancer by following Mars on its path through the Beehive May 21-23. Watch for brilliant JUPITER, rising in the southeast by midnight early in the month, and by 10PM at month's end. Jupiter appears among the stars of Eastern Sagittarius, near the handle of the "teapot" asterism, and dominates the night sky as the brightest object except for the Moon. MERCURY reaches its eastern elongation this month, when the innermost planet is at it's greatest distance from the Sun. Early May is a good time to view the tiny but bright planet, in Taurus, just 2? south of the Pleiades star cluster (M45). Best views come through binoculars as twilight falls, just slightly above the west-northwestern horizon. On May 6th, you'll find Mercury 3? to the lower left (south) of the crescent Moon. VENUS is moving back around the Sun & will be challenging to view until it reappears in the evening sky in late summer. Look for the Southern Cross to rise by around 8:30PM in early May, & by 7 PM, late in the month, low on the southern horizon. Hawaii is one of the few places where we can see all the way from the North Star, Polaris (Hokupa'a), to the Southern Cross, a Polynesian navigational "star line" called Ka Iwikuamo'o, "The Backbone." For further details and a May sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

May 5th, 2:30 A.M. - Sunrise Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower Hawaiian Islands The Eta Aquarid meteor shower could prove exciting this year, as the May 5th peak coincides with the new (dark) Moon. On this moonless night, away from city lights, observers might expect to see between 20 & 70 meteors/hour, between 2:30 A.M and sunrise on May 5th. These meteors are bright and fast moving; burning up as they make contact with our atmosphere, at approx. 41 miles/second. They appear to "radiate" from the constellation Aquarius, which rises almost directly due east by 2:30A.M. Most meteor activity expected just prior to dawn - look to the east. Meteor showers occur when the Earth passes through the path of a comet. The bits of debris left behind by comets, most no larger than a grain of sand, create a spectacular light show as they enter the Earth's atmosphere. The parent comet for the Eta Aquarids is Comet Halley.

April 2008 April Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Behold our beautiful spring skies! As the sky darkens, you'll find our signature winter constellations nearly overhead: Orion, Gemini, Taurus, Canis Major (toward the south) & Auriga (toward the north); with Cancer & Leo just to the east. Early evening, look for the unmistakable orange glow of MARS, still in Gemini, high up at nightfall. The Red Planet sits along side of Gemini brother Castor in early April, then appears to move toward the other twin, Pollux. At the end of the month Mars is nearly in line with Castor & Pollux, & appears like a third "brother" or triplet in the constellation. SATURN shines brightly, 2.5 times brighter than Regulus, the "heart" of Leo the Lion, which sits 2 deg. west of Saturn. Watch for the Moon to visit Saturn & Regulus on April 14th, a stunning trio! Saturn's ring system is beginning to tilt "edge-on" to our view from Earth. In late 2008, & through much of 2009, the rings will disappear from our view. This month, however, the rings are magnificent! You'll need at least a 30x telescope to view them. (Join us at a KEASA Starwatch & SEE for yourself). Early mornings, look for brilliant JUPITER, rising in the southeast by 2 AM early in the month, and by midnight at month's end. Jupiter appears among the stars of Eastern Sagittarius, near the handle of the "teapot" asterism, and dominates the early morning sky as the brightest object except for the Moon. The gibbous Moon dangles just below the giant planet the morning of April 27th. MERCURY will be traveling behind the Sun this month, and then reappear early evenings in late April, shining low in the west (at magnitude -1.4) about 30 minutes after sunset. On April 30th, as the sky begins to darken, look for Mercury, 10 deg. above the WNW horizon, just below the Pleiades star cluster. Like Mercury, VENUS is moving back around the Sun & will be challenging to view until it reappears in the evening sky in late summer. Shortly after sunset, April 8th, the crescent Moon crosses the glistening Pleiades star cluster, a striking event to observe. Watch for the Southern Cross to rise around 10:00 PM in early April, and by 8:30 PM, later in the month, low on the southern horizon. Hawaii is one of the few places where we can see all the way from the North Star, Polaris (Hokupa'a), to the Southern Cross, a Polynesian navigational "star line" called Ka Iwikuamo'o, "The Backbone." For further details and an April sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

March 2008 March Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands The Vernal Equinox occurs on March 19th here in Hawaii, at 7:49 P.M. HST. This is the moment when the Sun crosses the celestial equator, marking the change in seasons from winter to spring. On the day of the equinox, the Sun rises exactly in the East, & sets exactly in the West, & day & night are the same length. After the equinox, the Sun will appear higher & higher in the sky & the days will grow longer. SATURN is already in the eastern sky at dusk & remains visible nearly all night long, among the stars of Leo. It outshines Leo's brightest star, Regulus, the "heart" of the lion, which lies a few degrees to the west of the ringed planet. On March 18th, watch for an almost-full Moon right next to the pair. Early evening, look for the unmistakable orange glow of MARS, nearly overhead right after sunset. Mars crosses from Taurus into Gemini on March 4th, & sits above the horns of bull & next to legs of Gemini brother Castor throughout March. On March 9th & 10th, watch for an attractive binocular pairing as Mars passes north of Gemini's bright open star cluster, M35. Early mornings, look for JUPITER rising in the southeast by 4 AM early in the month, and by 2:30 AM at months end. Jupiter appears near the handle of the Sagittarius "teapot" asterism, & is the brightest object aside from the Moon, until VENUS rises two hours later. In early March, VENUS and MERCURY appear together, low in the predawn sky. On March 5th, a thin crescent Moon will join the pair, but you may need binoculars to see them both, low in the eastern sky, about 45 minutes before sunrise. Look for the Southern Cross to rise around midnight in early March, and by 11:00 PM, later in the month, low on the southern horizon. Hawaii is one of the few places where we can see all the way from Polaris, the North Star, to the Southern Cross, a Polynesian navigation "star line" called Ka Iwikuamo'o, "The Backbone." Earlier in the evening, you can still see the signature winter constellations: Orion, Taurus, Gemini, Auriga, & Canis Major (Orion's "Big Dog"). For further details and a March sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

February 2008 February Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands The month begins with a spectacular predawn conjunction of VENUS & JUPITER on February 1st. The two brightest planets are above the southeastern horizon by 6:00 AM beginning in late January. Watch how they appear closer & closer to each other each morning until, on Feb. 1st, they appear just 0.6 degrees apart, slightly more than the width of a Full Moon. Although the planets appear close to each other in the sky, VENUS is far closer to Earth (124 million miles away compared with 562 million miles for JUPITER) & shines brighter than the much larger gas giant. SATURN reaches opposition on Feb.24th, when it lies opposite the Sun in our sky & remains visible all night. This is a good time to view the ringed planet as it lies closest to Earth (771 million miles) & appears biggest & brightest. Watch for Saturn rising in the east shortly after sunset, with the stars of Leo, the Lion. On Feb.1st, you'll find MARS glowing brightly,high in the southeastern sky after sunset, between the stars which mark the horns of Taurus the Bull. Mars will appear to move eastward and, on the 29th, the Red Planet will form a nearly perfect equilateral triangle with 2 red giant stars; Betelgeuse (which marks Orion's shoulder) & Aldebaran (the eye of the Bull). There will be a total lunar eclipse on Feb.20th, tho' unlike the August 2007 eclipse, we will be unable to view this one from Hawaii, as it occurs before the Moon rises here. (We WILL be able to see the end of the PARTIAL eclipse, from Moon-rise at 6:40PM HST until 7:10). If you happen to be on the West Coast mainland, the eclipse will begin at 5:43 PST, just as the Sun sets. Totality starts at 7:01 & lasts 51 minutes. Then it will take another 78 minutes for the Moon to leave the Earth's shadow (partial eclipse). (Adjust for other mainland time zones accordingly). For further details and a February sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

January 3rd-4th, 2008 Quadrantid Meteor Shower Hawaiian Island Viewing The Quadrantid meteor shower peaks on Jan.3rd, at approx. 8:30 PM (HST). This is one of the year's strongest showers, with a rate of 120 meteors/hour. There will be little interference from the waning crescent Moon, so if we have clear skies, we should see quite a display! The radiant will not rise until after midnight, so the best viewing will be closer to the early morning hours on Jan.4th.

January 2008 January Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands January is an exciting month for stargazing! MARS is still glowing brightly, dominating the night sky, between the horns of Taurus the Bull & the feet of Gemini. The Red Planet rises just after sunset and, as twilight ends, is already more than 30 deg. above the Eastern horizon. At midnight, look for Mars almost directly overhead. Mars is visible all night long, however it won't be as bright at the end of the month, as Earth speeds away from the Red Planet in its orbit. Luminous VENUS, rises in the East around 4:30 A.M., more than 2.5 hours before the Sun. Hard to miss the brilliant planet, which is often mistaken for a UFO! Venus is viewable in the Eastern sky through sunrise. By mid-month, Venus is joined by the gas giant JUPITER, as the two planets prepare for a spectacular conjunction on February 1st. Look for the pair in the Eastern sky at dawn, beginning the second week of January. Notice how the two bright planets appear closer & closer each morning until, on Feb. 1st, they lie 0.6 degrees apart, slightly more than the width of a Full Moon. SATURN rises in the East around 10 PM in early January, & 2 hours earlier by month's end. The ringed planet lies more than 8 deg. below Regulus, the brightest star in the constellation Leo. MERCURY starts to become visible in the West, shortly after sunset, by mid-January. On January 9th, you might be able to spot Mercury at twilight, below & to the right of a tiny crescent Moon. Look for the pair in binoculars. Mercury sets 80 minutes after the Sun on January 15th. On January 21st, Mercury reaches its greatest angle East of the Sun (19 deg.) & remains above the horizon 90 minutes after sunset. For further details and a January sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

Dec. 23, 6:55 PM International Space Station (ISS) Pass Above Kauai, from NW moving SW then SSE On Dec. 23rd, from 6:55 ? 7:01 PM, there will be a very bright (-2.1), 5+ minute pass of the International Space Station over Hawaii. Look to the Northwest at 6:55 PM. The ISS looks like a bright star, only it?s moving very fast. It will appear larger & brighter as it climbs overhead to maximum altitude of 68 degrees at 6:58, moving toward the SW. It will then continue toward the SSE where it will disappear from view. (Times are for Kauai viewing. For local info check www.heavens-above.com)

December 2007 December Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands December is MARS' month to shine. The Red Planet reaches opposition on the 24th when Mars rises as the Sun sets & is visible all night. Six days earlier, on Dec. 18th, Mars will reach it's closest point to Earth (approx. 54.8 million miles away), as Earth catches up to Mars' slower, longer orbit around the Sun. While not as close as in the 2003 or 2005 approaches, Mars' disk will appear larger than it will for the next 9 years, and gleams brighter than any star, dominating the sky from dusk to dawn, in the constellation Gemini. On Dec. 23, look for the Full Moon near Mars and just Southwest of the "heads" of Gemini twins Castor & Pollux. SATURN rises by 12:30 A.M. on Dec. 1st, & 2 hours earlier by month's end. Regulus, the brightest star in Leo the Lion, rises about 40 minutes ahead of Saturn. Luminous VENUS, rises in the east around 4 A.M., 3 hours before the Sun. Hard to miss the brilliant planet, which is often mistaken for a UFO! Venus is viewable in the eastern sky through sunrise, in line with Virgo's brightest star Spica. A slim crescent Moon joins the pair on December 5th, a site well worth rising early to see. Watch for the Geminid meteor showers to peak on Dec. 14th & 15th (see notes below). December 21st marks the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, when the Sun reaches its maximum distance south of the celestial equator. For further details and a December sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium(bishopmuseum.org).

December 13/14/15 Geminid Meteor Showers Hawaiian Island Viewing The Geminid Meteor Shower will be active from December 7th thru 17th, expected to peak on Dec.13th/14th. After the crescent Moon sets mid-evening on the 13th & 14th we could see as many as 120 meteors/hour from a dark site. The meteors appear to originate or "radiate" from the constellation Gemini, the Twins, which rises shortly after sunset. Best viewing will probably be between 2 AM the morning of Friday, Dec. 14th, when Gemini is directly overhead, & dawn that morning. Start watching for meteors at/after 10PM on Thursday night,Dec.13th. Of course MARS is dominating the night sky, also in Gemini, and the streaking meteors will only serve to highlight our viewing of the bright Red Planet, nearing it's closest point to Earth.

November 2007 November Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Throughout November, watch for MARS to nearly double in brightness, as Earth's orbital motion catches up to the orbit of Red Planet. Mars appears brighter during these next 3 months than at any time in the past 2 years, with its upcoming opposition in December. Mars rises at 10PM in early November, & by 8PM at the end of the month, in the constellation Gemini, the Twins. SATURN rises around 2:30AM on Nov.1st, & just before midnight by the end of the month. Look for Saturn just east of the Regulus, the brightest star & "heart" of Leo, the Lion. Saturn will appear brighter than any of the surrounding stars & therefore should be fairly easy to spot. In early November, luminous VENUS, rises in the east around 3:30 AM, 3 hours before the Sun. Hard to miss the brilliant planet, which is often mistaken for a UFO! Venus is viewable in the eastern sky through sunrise. MERCURY, puts on its best predawn show of year, rising in the east just before sunrise, at around 5:30AM. November 3-8, look for the tiny yellow planet next to & OUTSHINING Spica, the brightest star in the constellation Virgo. Morning skywatch treat: On November 7th, in the pre-dawn eastern sky,(approx. 5:40 AM), look for a sliver of crescent Moon just south of Mercury & Spica. At the same time, you'll be able to view Venus, as well as Saturn in Leo & Mars in Gemini, AND Arcturus (Hokule'a) to the north of the ecliptic. JUPITER will soon be be leaving our evening skies, setting by 8:30PM early in November & before 7PM by the end of the month. Just below/south of Jupiter is Antares, the red supergiant star star which is the heart of Scorpius, the Scorpion. Notice that as Scorpius is setting in the west, Orion, the great Hunter, is rising in the east. For further details and a November sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium(bishopmuseum.org).

October 2007 October Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Behold our Autumn skies! The first week of the month you might be lucky enough to spot MERCURY, low in the west just after sunset. On Oct. 12th, you may spot the tiny planet adjacent to the thin crescent Moon, setting shortly after the Sun. As the sky darkens, look for the brightest "star" in the Southwest. This is actually the PLANET JUPITER. Jupiter appears northeast, or just above Antares, the red supergiant star which is the "heart" of Scorpius, the Scorpion. Using Jupiter to locate Antares, look for the "J" or "fishhook" shape of the GIANT scorpion (aka: Ka Makau Nui o Maui: the giant fishhook of Maui). Notice how Jupiter, reflecting the light of our yellow Sun, gleams a lustrous golden color, in contract to the ruddy glow of red Antares. On Oct. 15th, watch for a crescent Moon to pass between Jupiter & Antares. Jupiter will slowly be leaving our night sky. Best views of the gas giant occur at twilight. By October 31st, Jupiter sets before 9PM. In early October, bright orange MARS rises before midnight. On Oct. 3rd, the Red Planet rises with the last quarter Moon, & appears near the open cluster M35 at the curved foot of the constellation Gemini. Mars willl continue to rise earlier & become bigger & brighter daily, as Earth slowly catches up to the orbit of the Red Planet, which will reach opposition in December. Plan to awaken early on Oct.7th to view a spectacular conjunction in the eastern sky: At around 3:30 AM, Venus, Saturn & the Moon will be rising in the east, near the bright star Regulus in Leo; all appear as a cluster, within a 6 degree circle. You can view this stunning arrangement until approx, 5:45 AM (sun rises at 6:30), & take note of Mars overhead at this same time! The Moon leaves the scene the following morning, but the other three bright objects will stay together for at least a week afterward. This month look for SATURN, and a bright shining VENUS, in the east before dawn. For further details and an October sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium(bishopmuseum.org).

Oct. 20-22, 3:00AM - 5:30 AM Orionid Meteor Showers Hawaiian Islands This year, the peak of the Orionid meteor shower occurs 5 days before Full Moon. However the bright Moon sets by 2AM, so early-morning observers should be able to catch some meteor action. From moonset until sunrise, pre-dawn hours offer the best viewing. The meteors appear to originate or "radiate" from a spot in northeastern Orion, near it's border with Gemini. These are fast moving meteors, striking the Earth's atmosphere at 41 miles/second! Rates can reach 20 meteors/hour & occasionally more. Meteor showers occur when the Earth passes through the path of a comet. The bits of debris left behind by comets, most no larger than a grain of sand, create a spectacular light show as they enter the Earth's atmosphere. The Orionid shower occurs when Earth's orbit intersects debris left behind by Halley's Comet, during its many passages through our solar system.

Oct. 13th, 6:15 PM KEASA presents PUBLIC STARWATCH Waimea High School Playing Field Please join us for our monthly STARWATCH, beginning at sunset Saturday, October 13th, at the playing field of WAIMEA HIGH SCHOOL. Note that this is a change of viewing site, for the October Starwatch ONLY. Proceed WEST on hwy.50, thru the town of Waimea. Past Big Save, turn right on Ola Rd., at the Boys & Girls Club (across from Waimea Library). Park along the fenceline, across from the Boys & Girls Club, just below the tennis courts. Please dim headlights when approaching the playing field. For more information, visit www.keasa.org (keasa.org) or call 808.332-STAR(7827). Feel free to call (808) 652-2373, on Saturday late afternoon, for weather updates affecting Starwatch for that evening.

August 27-28 TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE Hawaii & West Coast U.S. The night the Moon turns RED. A spectacular TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE will be visible for 1.5 hours on Aug. 27-28, viewable in its entirety from Hawaii & the West Coast mainland. The totality phase of the eclipse, when the Moon will turn a deep red, begins at 11:52 PM on Aug. 27 in Hawaii, & at 2:52 PM Aug. 28th PDT. A lunar eclipse can only occur at Full Moon, when the Moon passes thru some portion of the Earth's shadow, as the Sun, Earth & Moon all line up on the same plane. A total lunar eclipse occurs when the entire Moon passes thru Earth's umbral shadow; the Earth blocking the sunlight normally reflected by the Moon. Although the Moon is in Earth's shadow, some sunlight is refracted, or bent as it passes through the Earth's atmosphere, and still manages to reach the Moon. Our atmosphere filters out most of the blue light. The remaining red light that reaches the Moon's surface, illuminates it to a coopery glow. During the August eclipse, the Moon's northern edge will pass directly through the center of Earth's shadow, (a central eclipse), resulting in a longer lasting eclipse & a more darkly colored Moon at totality. Lunar eclipses occur on average between 0 and 4 times per year. Less than half of these are total eclipses, and are truly extraordinary events to observe.

August 2007 August Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands As Saturn & Venus slip into evening twilight, Jupiter will rule as the only naked-eye planet visible in our night sky. Brilliant JUPITER dominates the southern sky, just northeast of Antares, the red supergiant star which is the "heart" of Scorpius, the Scorpion. Using Jupiter to locate Antares, look for the "J" or "fishhook" shape of the GIANT scorpion (aka: Ka Makau Nui o Maui: the giant fishhook of Maui). At the beginning of August, Jupiter & Antares are just south of overhead at sunset, & are visible most of the night. Notice how Jupiter, reflecting the light of our yellow-orange Sun, gleams a brilliant golden color, in contract to the ruddy glow of red Antares. MARS will be rising just after midnight in early August, close to the Pleiades star cluster (AKA: Seven Sisters, or Makali'i). Mars is getting brighter as Earth slowly catches up to the orbit of the Red Planet, which will reach opposition in December. Watch as Mars approaches Aldebaran, the red giant star which is the "eye" of Taurus, the bull. Around Aug.20-23, Mars appears as the "other eye" of the bull and, by the end of the month, appears between it's two horns. For the first week of August, early risers might catch a view of MERCURY in the pre-dawn sky, rising in the east just after Castor & Pollux, Gemini's brightest stars. After Aug. 8th, Mercury is lost in the Sun's glare. Be sure to mark your calendar for two special August AstroEvents: Aug.11-13: the Perseid Meteor Showers, and Aug. 27-28: Total Lunar Eclipse. (See notes). Take the time to appreciate our gorgeous summer skies, rich in star clusters, nebulae & other deep space objects. Lucky we live in Hawaii! For further details and an August sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

July 31st, 8:16 PM International Space Station (ISS) Pass Above Kauai, from SSW, moving SE & then ENE There will be a 4-minute bright pass(-2.0) of the International Space Station (ISS) on Tuesday, July 31st, starting at 8:16 PM. The ISS should first become visible at 10 degrees altitude above the SSW horizon. It will be moving toward the SE, reaching a max. altitude of 40 degrees (SE) at 8:19, then move toward the ENE where it will fade from view at approx. 8:20. Watch for the ISS to pass just South of Jupiter & Antares (the red supergiant star which is the "heart" of Scorpius, the Scorpion). For more information, or to view from Hilo or other sites, go to: www.heavens-above.com(heavens-above.com).

July 2007 July Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands July opens with Saturn & Venus appearing close together in the western sky for about 2 hours after sunset (see "conjunction" notes). During the first week of the month, watch as the two planets drift apart. Venus moves toward Regulus, the brightest star in Leo the Lion, & Saturn sinks toward the west. On July 16th, a crescent Moon lies between Venus & Saturn, & makes for a stunning view with Regulus. VENUS is at its brightest this month as it passes us on the inside track of its orbit around the Sun. This is the last chance to view SATURN, as it's glow is lost in twilight by month's end, until mid-September when it reappears in the morning sky. JUPITER dominates the southern sky, just northeast of Antares, the red supergiant star which is the "heart" of Scorpius, the Scorpion. Using Jupiter to locate Antares, look for the "J" or "fishhook" shape of the GIANT scorpion (aka: Ka Makau Nui o Maui: the giant fishhook of Maui). At the beginning of July, Jupiter & Antares are already halfway up in the eastern sky at sunset, & are visible most of the night. Notice how Jupiter, reflecting the light of our yellow-orange Sun, gleams a brilliant golden color, in contract to the ruddy glow of red Antares. MARS appears in the morning sky, rising by 2 A.M in early July and at 1 A.M. at month's end. Mars is beginning to brighten as Earth slowly catches up to the orbit of the Red Planet, which will reach opposition in December. Early risers will have one of the year's best morning views of MERCURY, as it reaches its greatest elongation west of the Sun on July 20th. On July 18th, look for the innermost planet rising with Betelgeus in the east, one half hour before sunrise. Take the time to appreciate our gorgeous summer skies, rich in star clusters, nebulae & other deep space objects. Lucky we live in Hawaii! For further details and a July sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

June 29 -July 1st; 8:00 PM Conjunction of Venus & Saturn in Leo Western sky; viewable for approx. 2 hrs. after sunset Watch as Venus, unmistakably the brightest planet, highly visible at sunset in the Western sky (WSW), meets up with Saturn. As soon as it's dark enough to see Saturn (around 8PM), on June 29th, look for the 2 planets closely aligned. On June 30th & July 1st, the planets will appear from Earth to be so close as to seem like a single object. Just east of the pair is Regulus, the bright star which is the heart of Leo the Lion. Venus makes one orbit around the Sun in 225(Earth)days, while Saturn takes 29.5(Earth)YEARS. What we see as a "conjunction" of the 2 planets is the faster moving Venus catching up with the slower orbiting Saturn. The two planets are actually over 800 million miles apart, but in our "line of sight" from Earth, they appear close to one another & even "conjunct" in these 3 nights.

June 2007 June Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands What a great month for observing the planets! Mercury & Venus appear high in the Western evening sky at the beginning of the month, Jupiter lights the sky nearly all night, & Saturn puts on its last display before slipping into twilight. MERCURY continues to gain altitude above the horizon through June 2, when it reaches eastern elongation (its greatest angular distance from the Sun). It remains visible through the first week of June, in the constellation Gemini, outshining both Castor & Pollux, Gemini's two brightest stars. VENUS, high above Mercury, moves from Gemini through Cancer & toward Leo, shining brightly until almost 10PM throughout the month. On June 17th, a thin crescent Moon will appear just to the west (right) of Venus. On the June 18th, look for the Moon nestled between Venus & Saturn. Watch Venus & Saturn move closer together during June, & on the 30th, meet in Leo, just 41' apart! SATURN appears in the gap between Venus & Regulus, Leo's brightest star, & by the end of the month appears just 7 degrees from the "heart" of the Lion. JUPITER rises as the sun sets early in June, northeast of Antares, the red supergiant star which is the "heart" of Scorpius, the Scorpion. Using Jupiter to locate Antares, look for the "J" or "fishhook" shape of the GIANT scorpion (aka: Ka Makau Nui o Maui: the giant fishhook of Maui). MARS appears in the morning sky, rising around 2:30 A.M. in early June & by 1:45 A.M. at months end. Mars continues to brighten as Earth starts to catch up with Mars' slower orbit. It's bright, ruddy glow makes Mars easy to spot in Pisces, with no bright starts around it. For further details and a June sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

Sunday June 3rd, 8:13 PM International Space Station (ISS) Pass Above Kauai, from SSW, moving SE & then NE There will be a 5.5 minute bright pass(-0.9) of the International Space Station (ISS) on Sunday, June 3rd, starting at 8:13 PM. The ISS should first become visible at 10 degrees altitude above the SSW horizon. It will be moving toward the SE, reaching a max. altitude of 56 degrees (SE) at 8:15, then move toward the NE where it will fade from view at approx. 8:18. For more information, or to view from Hilo or other sites, go to: www.heavens-above.com(heavens-above.com).

May 31st rising at Sunset BLUE MOON For those of you curious about the BLUE MOON, which will occur for us in Hawaii & mainland U.S., this Thursday, May 31st, here's some info: Once in a Blue Moon ... is a common way of saying not very often, but what exactly is a Blue Moon? According to the popular definition, it is the second Full Moon to occur in a single calendar month. The average interval between Full Moons is about 29.5 days, whilst the length of an average month is roughly 30.5 days. This makes it very unlikely that any given month will contain two Full Moons, though it does sometimes happen. On average, there will be 41 months that have two Full Moons in every century, so you could say that once in a Blue Moon actually means once every two-and-a-half years. For more info check: www.obliquity.com/astro/bluemoon.html.

May 2007 May Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Elusive MERCURY puts in its best evening appearance of the year this month. On May 11th, try spotting the planet as a small, bright yellow "dot" 30 minutes after sunset, a few degrees above the Western horizon. On May 17th, a thin crescent Moon passes 2.5 degees north of Mercury. Mercury continues to gain altitude above the horizon through June 2, when it reaches greatest eastern elongation (its greatest angular distance from the Sun), & remains visible through the first week of June. VENUS remains the highlight of May evenings, sparkling high above Mercury's position. In early May, Venus shines like a beacon, high in the west for 3.5 hours after sunset. On May 19th watch for a spectacular pairing as the crescent Moon passes within 1 degree of Venus. SATURN continues to grace our evenings skies, directly overhead (at zenith) at sunset, early in May. Saturn appears in the constellation Leo, the Lion, and is now creeping toward Regulus, Leo's brightest star. As the month goes on, Saturn, moves steadily westward, and by June the ringed planet will appear just 24 degrees from Venus in the western sky. A telescope reveals Saturn's magnificent ring system, & perhaps even Titan & other Saturnian moons. JUPITER rises by 9:30 PM early in May, east or left of Antares, the red supergiant star which is the "heart" of Scorpius, the Scorpion. Using Jupiter to locate Antares, look for the "J" or "fishhook" shape of the GIANT scorpion. By the end of May, watch for Jupiter to rise by 7:30 PM, to join Mercury, Venus, & Saturn in evening twilight sky. (Jupiter in the Southeast; Saturn, Venus & Mercury in the West). MARS appears in the morning sky, rising around 3:30 A.M. in early May & by 2:45 A.M. at month's end. Mars appears small & faint in the morning sky. On May 13th the red planet appears next to a crescent Moon in the eastern sky before dawn (approx. 4:30 AM) making it easier to spot. We will have a Blue Moon on May 31st, (the second full Moon in the month). For further details and a May sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

April 2007 April Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Brilliant VENUS dominates the early evening sky this month. Except for the Sun & Moon, it is the brightest object in the sky; shining at magnitude -4.0, bright enough to see in daylight! It stays above our western horizon for up to 3 hours after sunset. In early April, Venus lies 12 deg. south of the Pleiades star cluster, the "Seven Sisters" (Makali'i - M45), on the back of Taurus the Bull. On April 11th look for Venus just 2.6 deg. south of the Pleiades. Then on April 19th the crescent Moon appears directly between Venus & the Pleiades. These events are excellent as viewed thru binoculars; the dazzling stars of the Pleiades appear like a cluster of jewels, with nearby Venus a 4-carat gem! SATURN rises before sunset & doesn't set until early morning. It passes almost directly overhead, in the constellation Leo, the Lion, nearly 12 deg. to the right of Regulus, Leo's brightest star. A telescope reveals Saturn's magnificent ring system, & perhaps even Titan & other Saturnian moons. JUPITER rises in the southeastern sky just before midnight. The gas giant joins its smaller neighbor Saturn in the night sky, with Jupiter in the east & Saturn in the west. Jupiter sits approx. 10 deg. east or left of Antares, the red supergiant star which is the "heart" of Scopius, the Scorpion. (Using Jupiter to locate Antares, look for the "J" or "fishhook" shape of the GIANT Scorpion). MARS rushes across the constellation of Aquarius during April, rising around 4 A.M. in early April & by 3:30 A.M. at month's end. Mars appears small & faint in the morning sky. On April 13th a thin crescent Moon passes .5 deg. north of the red planet, making it easier to spot. Watch for the Lyrid Meteor Showers April 16-25, due to peak on April 22. (See notes below). For further details and a April Sky Map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

April 16 -25; Peak April 22 Lyrid Meteor Showers Hawaiian Island Viewing Favorable conditions for viewing the Lyrid Meteor Showers this year, with a first quarter Moon setting early. The peak of this shower is at NOON HST on Sunday, April 22, so best viewing (most meteors) would be early mornings, a few hours before dawn, on either Sunday or Monday. This is when the constellation Lyra, (from where these meteors appear to "radiate") is high in the sky. From a dark, clear viewing site, we can expect to see between 10 - 20 meteors per hour around the peak. Lyrid meteors are fast, (30+ miles/sec), & average as bright as the Big Dipper's stars. Meteor showers occur when the Earth passes through the path of a comet. The bits of debris left behind by the comets, most no larger than a grain of sand, create a spectacular light show as they enter the Earth's atmosphere. The particles we see as Lyrid meteors originated from Comet Thatcher (C/1861 G1), which returns to our area of the solar system about every 415 years.

March 2007 March Skywatch Highlight Hawaian Islands There will be a total lunar eclipse on March 3rd which, unfortunately, we will be unable to view from Hawaii. The Full Moon will have passed out of the Earth's shadow, before it has risen above our horizon. The event will be highly publicized, so it will be easy to view images from parts of the 7 continents where it is visible. The Spring or Vernal Equinox, when the Sun crosses the celestial equator,(length of day & night are approx. equal), will fall on March 20th at 2:07 PM in Hawaii. (Most mainland areas will be changing to daylight-savings time on Sunday morning, March 11.) *** The evening's first glowing attraction is VENUS, climbing higher in the western sky after sunset, unmistakably the brightest planet. Look for a thin crescent Moon close to Venus on March 20 & 21st. SATURN shines brightly (at magnitude 0), rises well before dark & remains visible nearly all night. The ringed planet appears 9 degrees west of Leo's brightest star, Regulus (the "heart" of the Lion). Thanks to Saturn's axial tilt, the rings, & perhaps even Titan, Saturn's brightest moon, should be viewable through even a small telescope. JUPITER rises by 1:30 AM in early March; & 2 hours earlier by March 31. The giant planet blazes with a yellowish glow in the morning sky, contrasting with the red supergiant star, ANTARES, just 10 degrees to Jupiter's right. Use Jupiter to locate Antares, the "heart" of Scorpius, the scorpion, & see if you can discern the famous "J" or fishhook shape of this stunning constellation; (AKA: Ka Makau Nui O Maui = Giant fishhook of Maui). MARS is faintly visible in the southeast morning sky, rising approx. 2 hours ahead of the Sun. The Red Planet slowly brightens & grows larger throughout 2007, as it makes another close approach to Earth in December. On March 15th, Mars appears 8 degrees east of a thin crescent Moon. The following morning, look for MERCURY & Mars on either side of the Moon. Don't miss the fabulous "family" of Winter constellations, viewable this month in our Hawaiian night skies: Orion, Taurus, Gemini, Leo, Cassiopeia, Ursa Major (Big Dipper) & Ursa Minor (Little Dipper). Also look for Sirius, (A'a), the brighest star in the night sky, rising East-Southeast of Orion's belt, in the constellation Canis Major (Orion's hunting dog). For further details and a March Sky Map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

February 2007 February Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Mercury, the innermost planet is viewable early in the month, in the West just after sunset, to the lower right of the much brighter, sparkling planet Venus. Mercury reaches it's greatest eastern elongation on Feb. 7th, when it appears 18 degrees East of the Sun, small & dim compared to Venus. Venus continues to rise higher & stay out longer after sunset, it's dramatic glow dominating the western sky. On Feb. 19th, look for a thin crescent Moon right above Venus. February is the best month this year for viewing magnificent Saturn. The ringed planet is at opposition on Feb. 10th, rising as the Sun sets & remaining in view all night. (Best viewing around midnight, with Saturn nearly overhead). Saturn appears in the sickle shaped "head" or "face" of Leo the Lion, close to blue-white Regulus, Leo's brightest star. Telescopic viewing will reveal Saturn's spectacular system of rings, & possibly Titan & other saturnian moons. Jupiter dominates the morning sky. Look for the brilliant gas giant to the left of Scorpius, the Scorpion, around 3:30 A.M. in early Feb. & by 2:00 A.M. at the end of the month. Jupiter's yellowish hue contrasts nicely with the ruddy glow of nearby Antares, the red super-giant star which is the "heart" of the Scorpion. Mars appears in the morning sky, rising approx. an hour & a half before the Sun in the East. On Feb. 14th, a thin crescent Moon lies 9 degrees to Mars' right. The Red Planet slowly brightens & grows larger throughout 2007, as it makes another close approach to Earth in December. Don't miss the fabulous "family" of Winter constellations, viewable this month in our Hawaiian night skies: Orion, Taurus, Gemini, Leo, Cassiopeia, Andromeda, Pisces, Ursa Major (Big Dipper) & Ursa Minor (Little Dipper). Also look for Sirius, the brighest star in the sky (except for our Sun), rising East-Southeast of Orion's belt, in the constellation Canis Major (Orion's hunting dog). For further details and a February Sky Map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org). (Courtesy Bishop Museum Planetarium)

Jan 31, 2007 - 12:00pm January Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands SATURN shines brightly (magnitude 0.1), rising by 10PM early in the month, & by 8PM at months end. The ringed planet lies well below Castor & Pollux, the bright stars of Gemini, the Twins; and is 6 degrees above Regulus, the "heart" of Leo the Lion. Saturn lies 770 million miles from Earth in mid-January, which means the light we see takes more than an hour to reach us. Saturn's rings span 45" east to west, offering spectacular views, especially once the planet is directly overhead. Look for the gibbous moon next to Saturn on January 5th. MERCURY skips from evening to morning sky this month and, in the process, performs a rare transit of the Sun, passing directly between the Sun & Earth. The entire 5-hour transit can be observed from Hawaii, but you'll need to USE APPROVED SOLAR FILTERS, as sunlight, especially focused through a telescope or binoculars, can BLIND you! JUPITER is just barely visible the first few days of November, setting just after the Sun. The giant planet will re-emerge in the morning by early December. MARS & VENUS are currently "traveling" around/behind the Sun (from our perspective) & are not viewable this month.

January 2007 January Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands SATURN shines brightly (magnitude 0.1), rising by 10PM early in the month, & by 8PM at months end. The ringed planet lies well below Castor & Pollux, & outshines these bright stars of Gemini, the Twins. It appears 6 degrees above Regulus, the "heart" of Leo the Lion. Saturn lies 770 million miles from Earth in mid-January, which means the light we see takes more than an hour to reach us. Saturn's rings span 45" east to west, offering spectacular views, especially once the planet climbs high above. Look for the gibbous Moon next to Saturn on January 5th. JUPITER is up by 5:00 AM in early January & an hour & a half earlier by the end of the month. The giant planet blazes in the morning sky! Look for a waning crescent Moon next to Jupiter on Jan.15th, lined up with Antares, the "heart" of Scorpius, the Scorpion. There's no way you can miss VENUS, the brightest planet, low in the western sky, setting shortly after the Sun. January 20th, look for a conjunction of Venus with the crescent Moon. By the end of January MERCURY joins Venus in the evening twilight. On January 22nd, you can spot Mercury just 10 degrees below Venus. MARS rises just ahead of dawn in the east, following Jupiter in the morning sky. The Red Planet traverses the Milky Way in Sagittarius during January. For further details and a January Sky Map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

Jan 06, 2007 - 6:00am Moon Occults Saturn & Regulus Hawaiian Island Viewing Early on Saturday morning, Jan. 6th, Saturn & the Moon will lined up with Regulus (the bright star which is the "heart" of Leo, the Lion). From approx. 5AM until sunrise (7:19 AM) you can spot the trio high in the Western Sky. Saturn & the Moon with go into conjunction on that morning at about 6:30 am. The Moon will pass between Earth & Saturn, & an "occultation" will occur. The Moon will cover 1/2 of Saturn at 7 AM; and occult the entire planet at 8:50 am, as the Moon & Saturn set in the Western sky. The Moon will also occult Regulus, but this will occur during daylight hours in Hawaii, so we will be unable to view this event.

Nov 18, 2006 - 11:59pm Leonid Meteor Shower Hawaian Islands The annual LEONID METEOR SHOWER is expected to peak around November 18th this year, concurrent with our KEASA public Starwatch & close to new Moon, which means the sky will be dark the entire night. The Leonids are expected to put on a good show, with predictions that observers may see as many as 100 meteors/hour. Leonids are fast meteors, with a velocity of about 44 miles/second! Leonid meteors appear to originate or "radiate" from the constellation Leo, "the lion," which will be rising (from the East) shortly after midnight. You may want to start watching for meteors late night & early morning hours of the 16th & 17th as well as the 18th. Meteor showers occur when the Earth passes through the path of a comet. The bits of debris left behind by the comets, most no larger than a grain of sand, create a spectacular light show as they enter the Earth's atmosphere. The parent comet of the Leonids is Tempel-Tuttle. This year Earth passes through a debris trail left by the comet's 1932 passage through our Solar System.

Nov 08, 2006 - 9:12am Mercury Transits the Sun Hawaiian Island Viewing On Wednesday, Nov.8, Mercury will transit, or appear to pass across the face of the Sun, over a period of nearly 5 hours, & Hawaii will have an ideal view for the entire transit. The event will begin at 9:12 AM and end at 2:10 PM HST. You'll need to USE APPROVED SOLAR FILTERS, as sunlight, especially focused through a telescope or binoculars, can BLIND you! AstroDay will be presenting a video feed webcast, from the summits of Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea, & Haleakala. Visit: www.astroday.net (astroday.net) This event is fairly rare, on average only 13 or 14 times a century. The last Mercury transit, in 2003, could not be seen from Hawaii, & the next one in 2016, will only be visible during the last few minutes before sunset. For further details visit the November Skywatch page at www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

Nov 01, 2006 - 6:00pm November Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands SATURN is returning to the night sky, rising by 1:30 AM in early November, & by midnight at Thanksgiving. The ringed planet lies inLeo, "the lion," close to Regulus, the lion's "heart," & brighest star in this constellation. Saturn lies 5 degrees Northwest of Regulus & appears to shine about twice as brightly as its steallar companion. Early morning Nov. 13, look for the waning crescent Moon, forming a trio with Regulus & Saturn from 1:00 AM until sunrise. Best time for telescopic viewing of Saturn's rings is at pre-dawn, when the planet has climbed high in the Southeastern sky. MERCURY skips from evening to morning sky this month and, in the process, performs a rare transit of the Sun, passing directly between the Sun & Earth. The entire 5-hour transit can be observed from Hawaii, but you'll need to USE APPROVED SOLAR FILTERS, as sunlight, especially focused through a telescope or binoculars, can BLIND you! JUPITER is just barely visible the first few days of November, setting just after the Sun. The giant planet will re-emerge in the morning by early December. MARS & VENUS are currently "traveling" around/behind the Sun (from our perspective) & are not viewable this month.

Oct 31, 2006 - 12:00pm October Skywatch Hawaiian Islands JUPITER the giant gas planet, will set by 8:30 at the beginning of October & by 7:00 PM by Halloween. Look for it low in the southwest at sunset, the brightest object in the night sky, other than the Moon. Jupiter, currently in the constellation Libra, appears just west of Scorpius, the Scorpion (Ka Makau Nui o Maui: the giant fishhook). Speaking of the Moon... the October 7th full Moon, the Harvest Moon, coincides with perigee, the closet point in its orbit around the Earth. Watch for accentuated tides, enhanced by intensified gravitational pull of the Moon & Sun on the Earth. Check out the waning gibbous Moon Oct. 9/10 when it rises close to the Pleiades star cluster (Makali'i), aka: the Seven Sisters, on the back of Taurus, "the bull." SATURN rises around 3 A.M in early Oct., & by 12:30 A.M. on Oct. 31st. Saturn lies in Leo, "the lion," close to Regulus, the brighest star in this constellation. A waning crescent Moon passes just 2 degrees north of Saturn, the morning of Oct. 16th. Try looking for MERCURY Oct. 18th, when it lies 4 degrees directly belowJupiter (approx. 30 minutes after sunset). A crescent Moon joins Mercury & Jupiter on Oct. 24th, with Antares (the red supergiant "heart" of Scorpius) just above and East of the trio.

Oct 21, 2006 - 10:00pm Orionid Meteor Showers Hawaiian Island Viewing The annual ORIONID METEOR SHOWER peaks on October 21 this year, concurrent with our KEASA public Starwatch & during new Moon, which means the sky will be dark the entire night. The Orionids are a great fall shower - lots of meteors, many leaving persistent trains, & longer nights. Orionid meteors appear to originate or "radiate" from the constellation Orion, "the hunter," which will be rising (from the East) by 10:00 PM. The actual "peak" of the shower is at approx. 4 AM the morning of Oct. 21st, so you may want to start watching for meteors late night & early morning hours of the 20th as well as the 21st. We might expect to see approx. 20 meteors/hour at the peak, STREAKING at an average velocity of 41 miles per SECOND! Meteor showers occur when the Earth passes through the path of a comet. The bits of debris left behind by the comets, most no larger than a grain of sand, create a spectacular light show as they enter the Earth's atmosphere. It is wonderful to think, as we observe these Orionid meteors, that we are seeing pieces of debris from the famous Halley's Comet.

Sep 30, 2006 - 7:30pm September Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands JUPITER the giant gas planet, still dominates the night sky, the brightest object besides the Moon, despite lying some 500 million miles from Earth. Look for it low in the southwest at sunset. On Sept. 25 & 26, the new Moon can be spoted just below & then just above Jupiter. Jupiter, currently in the constellation Libra, appears just west of Scorpius, the Scorpion (Ka Makau Nui o Maui: the giant fishhook). SATURN will be visible in the morning sky at approx. 4:45 a.m. in early Sept., & about 1.5 hours earlier by the end of the month. On the mornings of Sept. 18th & 19th, look for the waning crescent Moon just above & then just below the ringed planet. Saturn rises at the head of the constellation Leo the Lion, & on Sept. 30th, lies 8 degrees WNW of Leo's brightest star, Regulus (the heart of the Lion). There will be 2 bright passes of the International Space Station (ISS), on Sept. 7th (approximately 8:00PM) & Sept. 9th (approx. 7:11 PM). Mark your calendars & check this AstroEvents site for further details. (Courtesy Bishop Museum Planetarium)

Aug 31, 2006 - 7:30pm August Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands JUPITER the giant gas planet, outshines the brightest stars in the sky, despite lying some 500 million miles from Earth. You cannot miss it, high in the southwestern sky at dusk. The Moon passes 5 degrees south of Jupiter on August 1st & 29th. Last chance to glimpse MARS before winter. It appears low in the western sky about 30 minutes after sunset, in the constellation Leo. On Aug. 25th the crescent Moon lies 5 degrees left & slightly above the red planet. (BTW: The bogus email circulating about a current Mars approach is a HOAX. This data is about the Mars approach of 2003. Earth is currently moving AWAY from Mars in our orbits & the red planet continues to DIM as weeks pass). MERCURY & VENUS currently appear mornings, rising just ahead of the Sun. On Aug. 6/7, Mercury reaches its greatest western elogation, appearing 10 degrees above the eastern horizon, 30 minutes before sunrise, with Venus just 3 degrees away. On Aug. 22nd, 30 minutes before sunrise, look to the east for a conjunction of Mercury & SATURN (less than 1 degree apart), with a brilliant Venus 6 degrees above the pair, & the crescent Moon 2 degrees to Saturn's lower left. Mercury, Saturn, Venus & the Moon will all appear within a 7.5 degree wide circle. Don't miss the highlight of August AstroEvents: the Perseid Meteor Shower, Aug. 11th & 12th. Peak is Aug.12th, 6PM EDT (See notes below).

Jul 31, 2006 - 7:45pm July Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Summer skies provide excellent opportunities for celestial viewing. Look for Saturn shining at magnitude 0.4, low in the west about 40 minutes after sunset. Saturn currently lies in the constellation Cancer, the crab, and will be setting too early to be viewable by the end of July. Mars moves into the constellation Leo, & passes close to the bright star Regulus, the "heart" of the lion, on July 21st & 22nd. Mars appears reddish-orange, in contrast with blue-white Regulus. On July 27th, the crescent Moon joins Mars & Regulus low in the western sky. Jupiter still dominates the night sky as the brightest object apart from the Moon. Look for the gas giant low in the southwest at twilight, in the constellation Libra, just west of the head of Scorpius, the Scorpion. On July 4th, Jupiter's famous RED SPOT, (a giant hurricane large enough to engulf a few Earth-size planets), is set to pass close to another system, nicknamed Red Junior. As the two storms converge, scientists are not certain if they will combine or just pass by each other, but some interaction is expected to occur. On July 5th, the waxing gibbous Moon passes 5 degrees south of Jupiter. Venus rises by 4 A.M. in early July & a bit later by the end of the month. When it appears in the morning sky, Venus is called "Hokuao" the "dawn star." Venus will be reunited with Mercury by the end of July, & Mercury will appear 7 degrees below Venus as it rises out of the morning twilight. The Southern Cross ("Hanai-a-ka-malama"), is setting shortly after dark, & this will be the last month to see it in the evening hours, low on the southern horizon, until next year. (Courtesy Bishop Museum Planetarium & Astronomy Magazine)

May 31, 2006 - 7:40pm May Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Jupiter is currently the brightest object in the evening sky (besides the Moon), rising as the Sun sets. The giant planet is in Libra, above the head of Scoripus the Scorpion (aka: Ka Makau Nui O Maui, the fishhook) and can be viewed until dawn. Venus (Hokuao) is BRILLIANT, rising ahead of the Sun, by far the brightest object in the morning sky. Pre-sunrise, look for Jupiter shining brightly in the West, and Venus, brilliant in the East. Mars is in Gemini, starting the month between twin brothers Castor & Pollux. Mars ends up next to Pollux's head, before heading toward Cancer, where it will join Saturn in that constellation next month. Saturn is currently Mars' neighbor in the night sky. While Mars is in Gemini, Saturn resides in the next zodiacal constellation, Cancer. On May 31, find Saturn just a little below the crescent moon. Next month, Saturn & Mars trade places as Mars overtakes slower moving Saturn and moves higher in the sky. (Courtesy Bishop Museum Planetarium)

May 30, 2006 - 7:40pm Moon close to Mars & Saturn Hawaiian Islands Look for MARS near the Gemini twins, (Castor & Pollux), moving towards Saturn (in Cancer). On May 30th, Mars will be 3 degrees south of the waxing crescent Moon. On May 31st, look for Saturn, 4 degrees south of the Moon. Scorpius, the giant Scorpion or fishhook (Ka Makau Nui O Maui), is now fully visible by approximately 11 PM, rising after/below Jupiter. It is viewable until sunrise (has roughly a "J" shape), & appears to be following brilliant Jupiter.

Apr 30, 2006 - 8:00pm April Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands Jupiter is currently the brightest object in the evening sky (besides the Moon), rising just before 9 P.M. in early April. The giant planet is in Libra, above the head of Scoripus the Scorpion (aka: Ka Makau Nui O Maui, the fishhook) and can be viewed until dawn. Venus (Hokuao) is BRILLIANT, rising ahead of the Sun, by far the brightest object in the morning sky. Mars is between the tips of the horns of Taurus, the bull, in early April; then gradually moves eastward toward the feet of Castor, one of the Gemini twins. On April 4th, Mars, together with the red giant stars Aldebaran (Hoku'ula) in Taurus, & Betelgeuse (Kauluakoko) in Orion, form an almost perfect equilateral triangle. The Moon passes above Mars on April 3rd, over Saturn on the 6th, and near Jupiter on the 14th. Watch for the Lyrid meteor showers on the nights of April 21 & 22. Best viewing after midnight.

Apr 30, 2006 - 12:01pm Solar Eclipse Webcast View as Archive If you were unable to view the webcast of the Total Solar Eclipse, LIVE from Turkey, you can view it, at your convenience, as an archive at www.exploratorium.edu(exploratorium.edu). It's approximately a 2-hour webcast with informative documentary and STUNNING telescope images of this remarkable event. There's also a shorter, Eclipse Highlights video available for viewing at this site.

Apr 28, 2006 - 6:30pm Space Month & Starwatch Waimea Library, Kauai, Hawaii Celebrate SPACE MONTH throughout the month of April, at the Waimea Library, with special exhibits, books, resources and information about our Infinite Universe. On April 28th join us for a guided Starwatch. At 6:30 PM Pastor James Merritt will discuss ways to become involved in astronomy, followed by a presentation by Dr. Marshall Mock on "Our Hawaiian Skies." Starwatch to begin at approx. 7:45, behind the Waimea Library.

Apr 21, 2006 - 11:59pm Lyrid Meteor Showers Darkest location you can find! "Radiate" from Lyra, rising in the northeast. The peak of Lyrid meteor showers this year will occur the night of April 21st & into the morning of April 22nd. Best viewing after midnight. Could be substantial activity on the night of April 23rd as well. These "shooting stars" will appear to radiate from the constellation Lyra (marked by the bright star Vega), rising around 10 PM in the northeast. Meteor showers occur when the Earth passes through the path of a comet. The bits of debris left behind by comets, most no larger than a grain of sand, create a spectacular light show as they enter & burn up in the Earth's atmosphere.

Apr 01, 2006 - 7:00pm Moon in Makali'i (Pleiades) Look west just after sunset Touted in Astronomy magazine as "one of the most beautiful conjuctions the sky can deliver," the crescent Moon will glide in front of Makali'i, the Pleiades star cluster, on April 1st. Best viewing with binoculars or small telescope, just after sunset, as soon as it's dark enough to see the stars of Makali'i glistening like sparkling gems around the Moon.

Mar 28, 2006 - 10:00pm View the Solar Eclipse U.H. Hilo or Webcast On March 29, 2006, the new Moon will move directly between the Earth & the Sun, and a total solar eclipse will occur. The Moon's shadow will fall across the earth creating a narrow "path of totality." (It will transit across parts of: Brazil, the Atlantic, northern Africa, the Mediterranean, Turkey, central Asia & end at sunset in western Mongolia.) The eclipse will be Webcast at www.exploratorium.edu(exploratorium.edu). Or view it & celebrate at a "Midnight Solar Eclipse Party" at University of Hawaii, Hilo: www.astroday.net(astroday.net).

Mar 01, 2006 - 6:45pm March Sky Viewing Hawaiian Islands VENUS (Hoku'au) is currently rising 2.5 hours before sunrise, & is the third brightest object in the sky (after the Sun & Moon). On March 25th, a thin crescent moon appears just to the right of the planet. Look for JUPITER rising at 11:30PM at the beginning of March and by 9:30PM at months end. Jupiter sits just above the head of Scorpius, the scorpion (Ka Makau Nui o Maui). On March 18th the moon appears next to this bright planet. MARS is currently high overhead at sunset, between the Pleiades (Makali'i) and Taurus, the bull. It almost looks like a second eye of the bull, close to Aldebaran (Hoku'ula) a giant red star which is the bulls other eye. On March 5th, the moon hangs directly above the red planet. SATURN appears half-way up in the eastern sky at dusk, in the constellation Cancer. (Because Cancer is made up of relatively dim stars, Saturn is easy to spot). On March 10, look for the waxing gibbous moon next to the ringed planet. Next to Saturn is a cluster of stars nickednamed the Beehive. The cluster & planet together make for great viewing thru either binoculars or a telescope. (Source: Bishop Museum Planetarium)

Feb 22, 2006 - 7:16pm International Space Station (ISS) Pass Above Kauai, from SW heading NW and then NE There will be a particularly bright pass (-0.8) of the International Space Station on Wednesday, Feb. 22nd, starting at 7:16 PM (19:16). It should first become visible at 10 degrees altitude from SW. Then reaching MAX. altitude of 78 degrees (NW) at 19:19. Finally, fading from view at 10 degrees (NE) at 19:22. For more information, or to view from Hilo or other sites, go to: www.heavens-above.com

Jan 23, 2006 - 1:45am Jupiter & Saturn, January Viewing. Hawaiian Islands Jupiter is currently rising at approx. 2:30 AM, and at 1:00 AM by the end of the month. On January 23, look for a waning crescent moon next to Jupiter in the east. (If you happen to be awake to see Jupiter rise, look to the south & see the Southern Cross as well!) Saturn, in Cancer, is currently rising at about 7:15 PM. Saturn reaches opposition on Jan. 27th, rising at sunset and staying in the sky all night long.

Jan 18, 2006 - 6:54pm International Space Station (ISS) Pass Above Kauai, from NNW moving to NE & then SE Wednesday evening, January 18, there will be a particularly bright (-1.0), nearly 6 minute pass of the International Space Station over Kauai. At approx. 18:54, it should first appear 10 degrees above the NNW horizon. At 18:57, it will reach max. altitude of 65 degrees in the NE, and then move toward the SE, where it will disappear from view at approx 19:00.

Dec 25, 2005 - 6:30pm December Sky Viewing Hawaiian Islands Have you been enjoying our Winter skies and the return of the Winter constellations as I have been? The first bright object, visible at/just after sunset is VENUS. As the sky darkens, Venus has been glowing like a sparkling gem, "setting" in the West (SW) around 8:30PM. Shortly after sunset, a brilliant, pumpkin colored MARS becomes visible, toward the East, and is directly overhead by 8:30 PM. Taurus, the bull, is visible after dark ( rising from the East) with the Pleiades Cluster (Makali'i) on his back. At approx. 7:30, the Great Square of Pegasus, as well as Andromeda, are directly overhead. So nice to view Orion back on the scene, his famous BELT rising from due East, around 8PM! The Gemini Twins, Castor & Pollux are rising around 8PM as well, with SATURN just behind (below) them (ENE). Saturn should be easy to find, (rising around 9PM), as a fairly bright yellow light. *KEASA hosted a Starwatch presentation on Dec.23 at the Hyatt Regency, Poipu. Hyatt guests were treated to hot chocolate & s'mores while being guided to views of a beautifully clear evening sky! For more information on KEASA *(Kauai Educational Association for Science & Astronomy) and for details on our public Starwatches, please go to: www.keasa.org

Nov 05, 2005 - 12:00pm Taurid Meteor Showers Appear to "radiate" from the Constellation Taurus The Taurids could well be the highlight of our November skies. The southern Taurids peak on November 5th, and the northern Taurids on November 12th. Both showers can be observed through about November 25th. Observers on the mainland have reported seeing "fireballs" this past week, from the Taurids. When should you look? You might see a fireball, or other "streakers" flitting across the sky any time Taurus is above the horizon. At this time of year, the Bull rises in the east just after sunset. The odds of seeing a bright meteor improve as the constellation climbs higher. By midnight, Taurus is nearly overhead, so that is a particularly good time.

Nov 03, 2005 - 6:00pm Viewing Mercury Shortly after sunset in the the western sky Mercury is the closest planet to the sun and therefore is always seen near the sun. On Thursday, Nov. 03, we will have an opportunity to find Mercury easily in the evening sky. The thin crescent moon (Hawaiians call it the "Hoaka" moon) will be just above Mercury, making it much easier to find the planet. Use binoculars, but be careful not to look directly into the sun with them. (Wait until just after the sun has set). The Hawaiians call Mercury "Ukaliali'i" (following the chief) because it is seen only close to the sun.

Oct 29, 2005 - 6:15pm Mars Approach Rising in the east, at sunset MARS closest to Earth. Not as close as it was in 2003, but the closest it will be until 2018. On Halloween night it will rise at sundown. It shines at a magnitude of -2.3 at a distance of 43 million miles. This is bright enough to be seen even from urban-lit ciies. Our RED PLANET "neighbor" rises a little before the Pleiades, or Makali'i in the east.

Oct 29, 2005 - 6:30pm Mars Watch - KEASA Starwatch Kaumakani Ball Field On October 29, 2005, MARS was a MERE 43 million miles from Earth! This was the closest approach of the RED PLANET until 2018. Our KEASA Starwatch was a lot of FUN! It was "partly cloudy" at sunset and throughout the early evening. But we were still able to intermittently view Venus, Sagittarius, the constellations of the Summer Triangle, other constellations, and even a few more distant objects through the telescopes. At 6:45, we observed a BRILLIANT pass of the International Space Station (ISS) which lasted close to 6 minutes! Mars was viewable by 8:15 PM, through the passing clouds at times. Several of us were able to see Andromeda Galaxy, the Pleiades Cluster, The Ring Nebula, and other objects through the telescopes. By 9 PM, we had mostly clear skies and by 10 PM it was crystal clear; pitch black & absolutely GORGEOUS! Unfortunately, many stargazers had left by then. A handful of astronomy enthusiasts took advantage of this exceptional opportunity for observing and stayed until well beyond midnight!

Oct 27, 2005 - 7:30pm International Space Station (ISS) Pass Above Kauai, from Southwest, moving West Very bright pass of the ISS, first visible from the Southwest at 7:30:38 PM, rising to maximum altitude of 49 degrees in the Western sky. Should be viewable for approx. 2.5 minutes.

Oct 17, 2005 - 12:00pm Partial Lunar Eclipse Observable from Hawaii The partial lunar eclipse will begin shortly before midnight on October 16 & extend into early morning hours of October 17. It will first appear as a very slight darkening as the outer part of the Earth's shadow covers the moon. Then at 1:34 a.m., the partial eclipse begins, as the UMBRA, or darker, inner portion of the shadow, becomes visible on the moon's surface. Even at the eclipse's maximum, around 2:03 a.m., less than 10% of the moon will be eclipsed, but that makes it even more interesting to try to see the sharper, defined edge of the inner shadow. (from: Bishop Museum Planetarium Skywatch. www.bishopmuseum.org)

Oct 14, 2005 - 6:40pm Venus & Antares First & brightest object visible at sunset. Western sky to the east of the Sun. Have you been observing Venus lately? Now that Jupiter is setting with the sun, a magnificent Venus shimmers & sparkles like a brilliant gem, alone in the twilight. Try to take in a sunset and be dazzled by Venus as well! On Oct.14, and for several nights thereafter, Venus should be quite close to Antares (Lehua Kona) the Red SUPERGIANT star which is the heart of Scorpius. I'm wondering what this means for you Scorpios out there. Lotsa LOVE in your heart these days? The first, and brightest object you will see after sunset is Venus. Next look for a reddish star to appear nearby. When it gets darker, you might be able to discern the shape of the scorpion, lying on it's side, with an "S" curve from Antares to the "stingers" in the tail. Scorpius is also known as Ka Makau Nui o Maui (the big fishhook of Maui). When seen in the evenings, Venus is known as the "Evening Star." As such, the Hawaiians called it: "Hokukauahiahi." HOKU is the Hawaiian word for STAR. KAU means YOUR, and AHIAHI means EVENING. Venus is also known as the "Morning Star" when it is seen in the mornings. The Hawaiians called it "Hokuao." AO means DAWN or MORNING. Since Venus is closer to the sun than the Earth, it is always seen fairly close to the sun (at sunset or sunrise) and not found overhead or across the sky from the sun.

Oct 07, 2005 - 11:30pm Draconid Meteor Shower Appear to "radiate" from the head of Draco; Northern sky near Little Dipper The Draconids are very distinctive, SLOW MOVING meteors, which helps make them easier to differentiate from any random sporadic meteors. The peak activity for this meteor shower should occur between late evening on October 7th and early morning October 9th. "The buzz" is that we could see an "outburst" of shower activity, up to 10-20 meteors/hour, during this peak period, as was observed during the 1999 Draconids. Try to observe from the darkest location possible to view more of the meteors. Many meteor showers, such as these, can be predicted, as they repeat every year when the earth passes through the path of a comet. The bits of debris left behind by the comets, most no larger than a grain of sand, create a spectacular light show as they enter the earth's atmosphere. The Draconid meteors are the streaming tail of comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner.

Sep 06, 2005 - 7:25pm Venus, Jupiter & the Moon with Spica Western Sky at and just following sunset Following a spectacular conjunction of Jupiter & Venus on Sept. 1, where the 2 planets appeared as ONE brilliant object, close to the bright star SPICA (HIKIANALIA), these planets will now appear to separate. On September 6th an exquisite crescent Moon joins them along with Spica, in a stunning array! If you continue to watch night after night, Venus & Jupiter will continue to separate and you'll notice that Jupiter will dip lower and lower until it disappears below the horizon toward the end of the month, leaving dazzling Venus alone just after sunset.

Sep 03, 2005 - 7:00pm StarWatch Kaumakani softball field New Moon for our monthly KEASA Starwatch! Check out KEASA website for more details, including directions to this excellent viewing site. http://www.keasa.org/

Sep 01, 2005 - 7:30pm Venus Jupiter Moon Conjunction Evening skies, west-southwest, just after sunset - beginning NOW (late Aug.) Our two brightest planets, Jupiter & Venus appear STRIKING as twilight falls in early September. While Venus gleams a pure white, Jupiter shines a few shades toward pale peach. Watch how their colors deepen toward orange, and even red, as they descend. Start looking during the last week of August to see Venus climbing away from the Sun, while Jupiter slides in. The planets appear closest to each other Sept.1st. On Sept. 6th, the waxing crescent Moon joins the duo to create a stunning trio! Enjoy this conjunction, as the next nice one between these two planets happens in February 2008. (From Astronomy Magazine, Sept. 2005) For more info: http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2005/26aug_sunset.htm?list761521

Aug 29, 2005 - 7:25pm International Space Station (ISS) Pass Over Kauai, look SW, moving toward NE For those who missed the BRILLIANT pass of the ISS on August 27th, you'll have another opportunity to view it this Monday evening. It should appear at approximately 7:25 in the SW sky, heading NW. It will be almost directly overhead at 7:29, and disappear into the NE horizon 7:31:30.

Aug 23, 2005 - 7:30pm Sunspot Explosions could spark Aurora Best Viewing at high latitudes Big sunspot 798 exploded twice yesterday, August 22nd, and hurled a pair of coronal mass ejections apparently toward Earth. Geomagnetic storms are possible when the clouds arrive. Sky watchers should be alert for auroras during the nights of August 23rd and 24th. High latitudes are favored: e.g., Canada, Alaska and northern-tier US states from Washington to Maine. Visit http://spaceweather.com for more info.

Aug 12, 2005 - 8:00pm PERSEIDS Report Polihale I camped last night at Polihale & the PERSEIDS put on quite a display. From about 9PM until sunrise, the sky was beautifully CLEAR and the activity constant! There were many quick STREAKERS, as well as occasional outbursts /bright FLASHES; and we also observed several - at least 10 - colorful fireballs, some of which left long tails for a second or two behind them. Early morning (between 3 & 4AM), I thoroughly enjoyed watching Taurus & Orion rise and move across the sky. Hadn?t seen those guyz since last Winter! And this was the first time I was able to discern all the stars in Perseus and some other constellations that I don?t view regularly (Pegasus, Andromeda, etc.). Mars is BRILLIANT: BRIGHT RED, & getting brighter as it approaches (closest to Earth in late October). And I vaguely remember watching Saturn rise, along with Gemini twins Pollux & Castor, before finally CRASHING into a deep sleep (around 5 AM). Sister starwatchers reported counts of 25-30 meteors observed during 15 minute intervals, starting at approx. 4AM. Wish I could have stayed awake longer for the TRUE PEAK experience! Still some activity seen on Friday night, though there seems to be more clouds tonight here in Kekaha.

Aug 11, 2005 - 7:30pm PERSEIDS Meteor Shower Polihale Be sure to check out the PERSEIDS tonight. Best viewing before sunrise tomorrow AM. (After 2am tonight, look towards the East where Perseus will be rising!) Forecasts for as many as 120+ meteors/hr. I?m headin? out to the WEST POLE (Polihale) at sunset!

Aug 08, 2005 - 8:00pm Moon, Venus, & Jupiter West Kauai Astronomy Center Should be beautiful ?events? starting Sunday, Aug.7, observing the crescent moon, first closest to Venus, then between Venus & Jupiter, and finally closest to Jupiter. Stargazing here at: West Kauai Astronomy Center at Hale Kekaha Luana (my HOME) has been FABULOUS! August 7, 2005: The crescent Moon and the planet Venus will pass within a degree or so of each other as seen from most of the country this evening. Venus is the dazzling "evening star." It brightens into good view within a few minutes of sunset. August 8, 2005: The crescent Moon splits the gap between the second- and third-brightest objects in the night sky this evening: the planets Venus and Jupiter. Venus is to the lower right of the Moon, with fainter Jupiter a little farther to its upper left. August 9, 2005: The crescent Moon teams up with one of the solar system's other luminaries this evening: Jupiter. The solar system's largest planet looks like a bright star a little above the Moon at nightfall.

Jul 17, 2005 - 8:00pm Lunar Occult of Antares West Kauai Astronomy Center at Hale Luana There was a full occult today where the moon passed in front of Antares, ?Scorpio's GIANT RED HEART? In Hawaii this was at about 17:45 HST, still too light to see ANY stars in the constellation. Right now, approx. 8PM, there?s a slight cloud cover and it?s still not all that dark (especially with the bright moon). But I suspect most of Antares (AKA: Lehua-Kona) will be covered by the moon. And it?s a HUGE RED SUPERGIANT star)! Stay tuned for updates.






September 2007 September Skywatch Highlights Hawaiian Islands During the summer, the Sun's path appears high in the sky & the days are long. On the day of the equinox, the Sun rises exactly in the East, & sets exactly in the West, and day & night are the same length. Our autuminal equinox occurs on Sept. 22nd, at 11:51 p.m. HST, marking the change in seasons from summer to fall. After the equinox, the Sun will appear lower & lower in the sky & the days will grow shorter. As the sky darkens, look for the brightest "star" to the South. This is actually the PLANET JUPITER. Jupiter appears north, or just above Antares, the red supergiant star which is the "heart" of Scorpius, the Scorpion. Using Jupiter to locate Antares, look for the "J" or "fishhook" shape of the GIANT scorpion (aka: Ka Makau Nui o Maui: the giant fishhook of Maui). Notice how Jupiter, reflecting the light of our yellow Sun, gleams a lustrous golden color, in contract to the ruddy glow of red Antares. Jupiter, currently the brightest object in our night sky (except for the Moon), sets by midnight in early September & by 10:30 PM at the end of the month. The red beacon that you see in the East after midnight is MARS. Watch it ascend into the southeastern sky in the hours before dawn. By the 20th, Mars will be rising before midnight, just above the raised arm of Orion. Mars is getting brighter as Earth slowly catches up to the orbit of the Red Planet, which will reach opposition in December. In the morning, VENUS & SATURN pair up in the East, emerging into pre-dawn skies against the starry backdrop of Leo the Lion. Early risers can see VENUS, the brightest planet, rise before dawn all month; at 4:45 AM at the start of Sept. & by 3:30 AM at month's end. SATURN seems to follow Venus in its climb into the morning sky before dawn. It rises about 45 minutes before the Sun on the 1st, but a full 3 hours before the Sun by month's end. Watch throughout the month as the ringed planet closes the gap between itself & Venus. By the end of the second week of September, you might be lucky enough to spot MERCURY, low in the west at sunset. On the 12th & 13th, look for the little planet next to a thin crescent Moon. On the 21st, Mercury will appear close to Spica, the brightest star in the constellation Virgo, low in the West 45 minutes after sunset. For further details and a September sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).


Maintained by Roz Reiner - Kauai, Hawaii

 

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