It was a clear predawn sky that greeted Waimea this morning, perfect to watch the transit of Mercury across the Sun.
An alarm set for o-dark-thirty and a drive to Waimea with the first glow of dawn behind the mauna. I did not have to pack a ‘scope as I would be using an observatory outreach telescope, just make sure I have camera gear ready.
Realistically I was expecting only a few folks in addition to the club members I knew were coming. A light crowd maybe? Thus I was rather surprised to find the parking lot filling quickly and our big conference room buzzing at 6am.
It was quite the crowd considering the Sun had not yet appeared over the shoulder of the mauna!
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.
2019 is looking to be a pretty ordinary year for events, with a few decent events to look forward to. The highlights will be a sunset total lunar eclipse on January 20th, the η-Aquariids meteor shower in early May, a transit of Mercury in November, and a nice set of planetary conjunctions in the sunset and sunrise.
There are dozens of posts scheduled here on DarkerView to remind my readers of these and many more events before they occur. Frankly, I need the reminder myself. Stay tuned for all of the great events the sky of 2019 will offer us.
The remainder of this post is a quick summary of the events our sky has to offer in 2019.
I have run into a significant problem I did not expect.
I love to fly the drone in the Humuʻula Saddle in the morning and afternoon. It is an area that I find endlessly fascinating, with spectacular scenery in a dramatic landscape.
Even better, I need only stop off on the way to or from work at the summit to find time to fly here. Leave for work early, discharge a few flight batteries, join the rest of the crew for breakfast at Hale Pōhaku.
Just after dawn or just before sunset the light accentuates this dramatic landscape, intensifying the colors, the low sunlight angle creating shadows that reveals the stark terrain.
The low sunlight angle causes some problems as well. One I expected… The drone camera does not deal well with glare. Take an image pointing near the Sun and the image is often ruined by the glare. This is discussed in some of the review videos I watched before I bought the drone. Easy to avoid, just point away from the Sun before you start that panorama sequence.
The second major issue I did not expect… Many of the images feature a very bright spot directly opposite the Sun in the sky. This spot is intense, creating a peculiar feature in the photograph that I find distracting.
Winter solstice occurs today at 16:28HST. Today the Sun will occupy the most southerly position in the sky of the year. The term solstice comes from the Latin terms Sol (the Sun) and sistere (to stand still). On this day the Sun seems to stand still as it stops moving southwards each day and begins move to the north. This is the first day of winter as marked by many cultures in the northern hemisphere. Alternately, this is the first day of summer for those folks in the southern hemisphere.