It is a subdued Fourth of July around the island. Most large scale gatherings are still cancelled such as the annual 4th of July Rodeo at Parker Ranch. There will be some official fireworks in Hilo and Kona, but Deb and I are not planning to attend.
It remains to be seen how many illegal fireworks there are in the neighborhood, something I have usually considered a local measure of economic optimism. Given the oddness of the year I suspect that will not be a good proxy this year. Nothing is predictable this year.
There have been rumors of shortages in supply as well, maybe the reason for some loud bangs in the neighborhood over the last week… Improvised fireworks or more illegal imports?
A good evening to reflect on history, where we have been, and where we might be headed. Celebration will remain quiet and introspective, in this household at least.
This pig was one of the two I am trying to catch, all that remains of the original eight in the group. One big white pig and one young black, they have evaded my trap for over a month, sometimes stopping by, but hesitating to step into the wire cage.
A bit of a surprise… Contrary to my assumption big white was female.
While she had been quite shy of going into the trap, a bait tray loaded with banana peels, pineapple scraps, and sweet potato peelings had proven irresistible. The trap slammed shut just after 4am. Lightly dozing I heard the plywood door drop and knew immediately that I had caught another pig. Oddly this pig was silent, no squealing to wake the neighbors.
This time I had help loading the pig, my parents are visiting for the holiday. Trapping and handling a feral pig is another story to tell when they get back home.
There is only one pig left of this pack, a mid-sized black that is the last of the litter mates. He was hanging around when we removed the older female this morning, is still hanging out in the area. Got the trap right back into position and baited in case.
I went waterfall hunting yesterday.
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.
Here we go again.
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.
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 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”
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.
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”
I do enjoy doing school star parties, one of the best parts about running our little astronomy club is arranging these events.
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.