A Full Night at Kaʻohe

A last star party of the year, actually the last star party of the decade.

'Scopes in the Twilight
A pair of 8″ telescopes in the twilight, with a setting Moon and Venus over Hualalai

With new Moon in the middle of Christmas week I had the choice of the weekend before Christmas, or the weekend after. Guessing that attendance would be better in the quiet days between holidays I chose December 28th as our monthly new Moon star party.

The site was, as usual our Ka’ohe observing site on the side of Mauna Kea. The weather was nearly ideal, clear, not very cold, and almost no wind at the site.

Arriving at the site to find beautiful, clear skies we marveled at the sunset scene. A brilliant Venus and three day old crescent Moon hung above the fading sunset and Hualālai.

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Postcard from the Summit – Mamane and Fogbow

As you descend from Hale Pohaku in the afternoon you often drive into the top of the clouds at about 6,000-8,000ft elevation. The transition from clear blue skies to fog is often stunningly breautiful, a zone where light does interesting things. This zone is haunted by ghostly phenomena… As long as the Sun angle is low you will see fogbows here…

Mamane & Fogbow
A favorite mamane tree framed by a fogbow along the Mauna Kea access road

Were cultural sites destroyed when building observatories?

Another of the myths that plague this conversation. While not as commonly stated as some of the other myths discussed here, it has been persistent and seems to pop up regularly.

A photo of the Mauna Kea summit area from the Preston expedition of 1892
A photo of the Mauna Kea summit area from the Preston expedition of 1892

When the 12 existing facilities were built, not only were laws waived, heiau and ahus were bulldozed into trash heaps. 

wailana in a comment on Ian Lind’s blog 14Sep2019

The myth is clearly an attempt to show that the state callously allowed the destruction of cultural properties in the past, thus showing that the state does not care for Hawaiian issues and would break its own laws.

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A Moonlit Night at Kaʻohe

It was Norman who started it.

The last glow of Sunset over Hualālai, with Venus just about to set behind the mauna and Jupiter high above.
The last glow of Sunset over Hualālai, with Venus just about to set behind the mauna and Jupiter high above.

An innocent email… Anyone interested in a star party this weekend?

Last weekend’s new Moon star party had been a bust, heavy clouds overhead were a disappointment to those of us waiting for a good dark night.

Given the positive response to Norman’s email there seems to be a few folks ready to go despite a bright Moon in the sky. With the weather looking good the Saturday afternoon email flurry showed that a few folks were going, thus I joined in.

As per Mauna Kea normal I drove through the clouds, heavy fog on Saddle Road just a mile from Kaʻohe made the trip seem hopeless. But as I neared the turn I suddenly found myself above the clouds, the bright Moon high over Hualalai.

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A Night Between Hurricanes at Kaʻohe

Our monthly dark skies star party had been originally planned for the night of July 27th, a few days before full Moon. With the governor’s emergency order all access to the mauna was closed, and the gals at the DLNR office let me know I could not get a permit. With that I put out a message I hate to post… Star party cancelled.

The NexStar 11 setup under the Milky Way at Kaʻohe
The NexStar 11 setup under the Milky Way at Kaʻohe, photo processed with Prisma

One week later and things look better, the emergency order has been rescinded and we again have access to the mauna, no problem getting our permit.

The problem this time looked to be weather, no big problem… Just a couple of hurricanes.

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