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Friday, November 28, 2014         

Skywatch

In November, all five naked-eye planets will be visible, including the all-night appearance of Jupiter, and a morning gathering of Venus and Saturn. The Leonid meteor shower returns mid-month, and there will be a solar eclipse deep in the southern hemisphere.

In the tropics, there are two days a year when the sun hangs exactly overhead. The term "Lahaina Noon" was chosen in a contest that Bishop Museum sponsored in 1990 to provide a convenient and local name for this phenomenon.

As with last month, it remains possible to catch all five naked-eye planets in June. Three eclipses occur but will not be visible in the islands.

The most remarkable astronomy event this May is a gathering of planets in the predawn sky.

April provides a chance to see nearly all the most famous constellations in one night, from Orion to Scorpius. Saturn shines all night, and the Lyrid meteor shower returns.

Bishop Museum's newest planetarium program, Tropical Skies, is now playing at 3:30 p.m. daily (except Tuesdays, when the museum is closed). Tropical Skies explores some of the unique qualities of the Hawaiian daytime and nighttime sky.

Next year is an important one for the Jhamandas Watumull Planetarium at Bishop Museum. On Dec. 11 our planetarium turns 50. Originally called the Kilolani Planetarium, ours was the first planetarium in Polynesia.

We'll see a spectacular total lunar eclipse from the Hawaiian Islands on the night of Dec. 20. During a total eclipse the entire moon is in Earth's deep inner shadow. From about 9:45 to 10:50 p.m., the moon should turn a dark, eerie red.

Jupiter continues to blaze away in the evening sky at minus 2.8 magnitude, and Venus at minus 4.3 magnitude joins Saturn in the morning sky. The Leonid meteor shower returns Nov. 17-18, but don't expect the spectacular show we got from the Leonids in 2001.

Venus has blazed like a torch in the west throughout the summer of 2010. However, it's time to say goodbye to the planet that we call both our sister planet and "the evening star."

I'm happy to be back writing the monthly "Skywatch" column, which Bishop Museum started producing back in the 1980s. We'll run this article in the Star-Advertiser on the last Sunday of each month, and will provide night sky information and a star map for the upcoming month.


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