Kawainui Waterfalls

I went waterfall hunting yesterday.

A waterfalls on Kawainui Stream near Onomea
A waterfalls on Kawainui Stream near Onomea

Since I had to drive back from Hilo anyway, may as well have some fun along the way. I had spent some time on Google maps the night before scouting a good set of waterfalls to drone and ended up choosing Kawainui… A good choice.

The Hamakua coast features hundreds upon hundreds of waterfalls, from modest cascades to spectacular falls hundreds of feet high. I wanted some good video footage of a classic Hawaiian Island waterfall.

I needed a waterfall that was big enough to be impressive and offer open airspace for the drone, not overhung with trees and branches to create flight hazards. I was looking for a falls that was not close to a house, no need to be rude and fly over someone’s back yard. I needed easy access from a road.

Kawainui stream fit all the criteria, with several waterfalls to choose from.

As I parked and walked out onto the bridge to get a look at the stream I met a young man just hanging out on the century old bridge. We struck up a conversation, as he rested, he and his friends had been jumping off the bridge into the deep pool below.

We chatted about the road, the railroad, the old sugar landings along the coast, the odd tunnel just above the bridge we stood on that was likely another relic of sugar. He gave me the layout of the falls and where to find the trails through the thick jungle. Growing up swimming in this stream he knew the area well.

A big falls was located just downstream from the bridge, my conversation confirming what I had seen in the satellite photos… A pretty waterfall that should provide a nice visual for photography. As I flew the drone over the edge the first time and spun it to look at the falls I was happy, just what I was looking for.

First Storm of the Season

Here we go again.

Hurricane Douglas approaches the islands, GEOS West infrared image at noon, 25 July, 2020
Hurricane Douglas approaches the islands, GEOS West infrared image at noon, 25 July, 2020

Hurricane Douglas is the first hurricane to threaten the islands this season. The storm was a strong category 3 but has weakened a bit. It still packs 100mph winds and is expected to remain a hurricane as it passes.

Fortunately the path has shifted to the north slightly over the last 24 hours. The storm is now expected to miss the islands by a bit. Not by much, but enough to avoid hurricane force winds making landfall.

What we do expect is tropical storm force winds and heavy rain. We are ready for the winds, I secured everything yesterday. The rain? We could use some rain. The best outcome would be a day of good soaking rains on our side of the island.

Banana Patch MkII

Back in February it was necessary to perform a distasteful deed… I cut down all of my bananas and used herbicide to kill as much of the root mat as possible. The reason? The plants had been infected with Banana Bunchy Top Virus.

The back yard banana patch has been leveled
The back yard banana patch has been leveled

The virus stunts the growth of the each stalk, with the leaves becoming dwarfed and bunched up at the top giving rise to the virus common name. Nothing to do but to kill the entire clump, wait a while and start over.

That wait is ending. Over the last week I have dug out the banana patch and prepared it to be a productive bed again.

To this end I have dug a small pit where the old patch was located. About twelve feet by eight, and about 18″ deep. This will be the new banana patch.

Continue reading “Banana Patch MkII”

Transit of Mercury Nov 11, 2019

On November 11th, 2019 Mercury will transit the Sun. While transits of Mercury are not rare, they are not all that common either. The last transit was a few years ago in May of 2016. On average there are fourteen transits of Mercury each century or one every seven years. If you wish to observe one the situation is much better than transits of Venus which occur in pairs over a century apart.

Mercury Transit 9May2016
Mercury transiting the Sun on May 9, 2016. Celestron C8 and Canon 6D at f/10.

This particular transit will favor observers in Europe, South America, and the eastern seaboard of North America where the entire transit will be visible. Unfortunately for observers in the islands only the final hour and a half of the transit will be visible having begun well before local dawn. Sunrise will occur around 06:28 for the island of Hawaiʻi, with the transit ending at 08:04 in the morning when the Sun will be 20° above the horizon.

Continue reading “Transit of Mercury Nov 11, 2019”

Star Party at the Beach

I do enjoy doing school star parties, one of the best parts about running our little astronomy club is arranging these events.

Students of Mauna Loa School enjoy views of the Moon during a camp-out at Spencer Beach Park.
Students of Mauna Loa School enjoy views of the Moon during a camp-out at Spencer Beach Park.

The school in this case is Mauna Loa School, a Hilo charter school. This did not entail a two hour drive to Hilo as they came to our side of the island. Much of the student body was camping out at Spencer Beach Park after a day spent visiting nearby sites including Anna’s Ranch.

The school had reserved the entire camping area of the park, along with the large pavilion. About 40 students, staff, and parents. We arrived to a small tent city and the smells of Mexican beans being prepared for dinner.

Invited for dinner we had burritos with the students while the sun set over the ocean. A classic Hawaiian evening with the beach and palm trees, a gentle sea breeze and a glowing sunset.

Early in the evening we were troubled by clouds, with nice views of the Moon through the gaps every few minutes. As usual for this coast the clouds slowly dissipated as daytime heat faded leaving a mostly clear sky towards the end.

The timing was perfect, with a crescent Moon, Jupiter, and Saturn all high and available for viewing. Four telescopes were available for viewing keeping lines a bit shorter at the ‘scopes, with many eager eyes.

As usual when viewing Saturn somebody jokingly accuses me of faking the image… A slide, a sticker, that has has to be fake. Yet there is was, encircled with those beautiful rings, the large moon Titan just above the planet.

Our deadline was 9pm, when the gate above the park would be locked. I gave everyone a 20 minute warning to break down and head out. After a few last looks at Saturn and profuse thanks from the students and staff we just made it, park security locking the gate behind us.

Next week it is Waikoloa School.

A Second Chance for Lāhainā Noon

Lāhainā Noon is that moment when the Sun is directly overhead. At the moment of Lāhainā Noon shadows disappear.

The first Lāhainā Noon of the year occurs in May as the Sun is moving northwards in the sky. The second chance to see Lāhainā Noon is in July as the Sun moves back to the south.

The table below gives the dates and times for this second Lāhainā Noon across the islands.

Lahiana Noon for July 2019
CityLong.Lat.DateTimeElevation
Naalehu 155°35’W19°03’NJul 2712:29HST89.9
Hilo 155°05’W19°42’NJul 2412:27HST89.9
Kona 155°59’W19°39’NJul 2512:30HST89.9
Waimea 155°40’W20°01’NJul 2312:29HST89.9
Hawi 155°50’W20°14’NJul 2212:30HST89.9
Hana 156°00’W20°46’NJul 1912:30HST89.9
Kihei 156°27’W20°45’NJul 1912:32HST90.0
Kahalui 156°28’W20°53’NJul 1812:32HST89.9
Lahaina 156°40’W20°53’NJul 1812:33HST89.9
Lanai City156°55’W20°50’NJul 1812:34HST89.9
Kaunakakai157°01’W21°05’NJul 1712:34HST89.9
Honolulu 157°49’W21°18’NJul 1612:37HST89.9
Kaneohe 157°48’W21°25’NJul 1512:37HST89.9
Waialua 158°08’W21°34’NJul 1412:38HST89.9
Lihue 159°22’W21°58’NJul 1112:43HST89.9
Data from US Naval Observatory Data Services

Waimea Lāhainā Noon Reminder

Today at 12:19HST will be Lāhainā Noon in Waimea on the Big Island, the moment when shadows disappear.

The exact date and time varies significantly across the islands and from year to year. The table below shows the time of Lāhainā Noon for various cities in 2019.

Lahiana Noon for May 2019
CityLong.Lat.DateTimeElevation
Naalehu 155°35’W19°03’NMay1512:19HST89.9
Hilo 155°05’W19°42’NMay1812:17HST89.9
Kona 155°59’W19°39’NMay1812:20HST89.9
Waimea 155°40’W20°01’NMay2012:19HST89.9
Hawi 155°50’W20°14’NMay2112:20HST90.0
Hana 156°00’W20°46’NMay2312:21HST89.9
Kihei 156°27’W20°45’NMay2312:23HST89.9
Kahalui 156°28’W20°53’NMay2412:23HST89.9
Lahaina 156°40’W20°53’NMay2412:23HST89.9
Lanai City156°55’W20°50’NMay2412:24HST89.9
Kaunakakai157°01’W21°05’NMay2512:25HST89.9
Honolulu 157°49’W21°18’NMay2612:28HST89.9
Kaneohe 157°48’W21°25’NMay2712:28HST89.9
Waialua 158°08’W21°34’NMay2812:30HST89.9
Lihue 159°22’W21°58’NMay3112:35HST90.0
Data from US Naval Observatory Data Services

Hilo & Kona Lāhainā Noon Reminder

Today will be Lāhainā Noon in Hilo and Kailua-Kona, the moment when shadows disappear.

The event will occur at 12:17HST in Hilo, and three minutes later further west in Kailua-Kona at 12:20HST.

The exact date and time varies significantly across the islands and from year to year. The table below shows the time of Lāhainā Noon for various cities in 2019.

Lahiana Noon for May 2019
CityLong.Lat.DateTimeElevation
Naalehu 155°35’W19°03’NMay1512:19HST89.9
Hilo 155°05’W19°42’NMay1812:17HST89.9
Kona 155°59’W19°39’NMay1812:20HST89.9
Waimea 155°40’W20°01’NMay2012:19HST89.9
Hawi 155°50’W20°14’NMay2112:20HST90.0
Hana 156°00’W20°46’NMay2312:21HST89.9
Kihei 156°27’W20°45’NMay2312:23HST89.9
Kahalui 156°28’W20°53’NMay2412:23HST89.9
Lahaina 156°40’W20°53’NMay2412:23HST89.9
Lanai City156°55’W20°50’NMay2412:24HST89.9
Kaunakakai157°01’W21°05’NMay2512:25HST89.9
Honolulu 157°49’W21°18’NMay2612:28HST89.9
Kaneohe 157°48’W21°25’NMay2712:28HST89.9
Waialua 158°08’W21°34’NMay2812:30HST89.9
Lihue 159°22’W21°58’NMay3112:35HST90.0
Data from US Naval Observatory Data Services

Lāhainā Noon

Lāhainā Noon is that moment when the Sun is directly overhead. At the moment of Lāhainā Noon shadows disappear.

As the islands lie south of the Tropic of Cancer there is a day when the Sun will pass directly overhead as the summer solstice approaches, generally in late May. There is a second noon as the Sun’s position moves south again in July.

The term Lāhainā Noon is unique to the islands, being adopted by the Bishop Museum in the 1990’s to describe this event. The Hawaiian term lā hainā translates roughly as cruel Sun.

The exact date and time varies significantly across the islands and from year to year. The table below shows the time of Lāhainā Noon for various cities in 2019.

Lahiana Noon for May 2019
CityLong.Lat.DateTimeElevation
Naalehu 155°35’W19°03’NMay1512:19HST89.9
Hilo 155°05’W19°42’NMay1812:17HST89.9
Kona 155°59’W19°39’NMay1812:20HST89.9
Waimea 155°40’W20°01’NMay2012:19HST89.9
Hawi 155°50’W20°14’NMay2112:20HST90.0
Hana 156°00’W20°46’NMay2312:21HST89.9
Kihei 156°27’W20°45’NMay2312:23HST89.9
Kahalui 156°28’W20°53’NMay2412:23HST89.9
Lahaina 156°40’W20°53’NMay2412:23HST89.9
Lanai City156°55’W20°50’NMay2412:24HST89.9
Kaunakakai157°01’W21°05’NMay2512:25HST89.9
Honolulu 157°49’W21°18’NMay2612:28HST89.9
Kaneohe 157°48’W21°25’NMay2712:28HST89.9
Waialua 158°08’W21°34’NMay2812:30HST89.9
Lihue 159°22’W21°58’NMay3112:35HST90.0
Data from US Naval Observatory Data Services