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Monday, April 21, 2014         

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The Hawaiian islands are perfectly situated to see all of the total lunar eclipse on April 14, a celestial event that runs from roughly 8 to 11:30 p.m. In addition, Mars reaches its brightest point in the past eight years.

Since Venus has moved to the morning sky, Jupiter stands unchallenged as the most brilliant dot in March's evening sky. The planet shines at minus 2.3 magnitude. Look for it at dusk in early March about two-thirds of the way up in the east.

Every year Bishop Museum's J. Watumull Planetarium provides a calendar of astronomical events specifically for Hawaii's location and time zone.

Bishop Museum is open on New Year's Day, but will be closed on New Year's Eve as it is each Tuesday.

The astronomical story that is drawing the most attention this fall is Comet ISON. Comet ISON (official label: C/2012 S1) was discovered on Sept. 21, 2012, when it glowed at a feeble magnitude 18.

The astronomical story that is drawing the most attention in November is Comet ISON, discovered on Sept. 21, 2012.

Venus has been remarkably consistent all summer long, emerging as a brilliant light in the western sky at dusk and setting just before 9 p.m. This trend continues in October.

Venus has been remarkably consistent all summer long, emerging as a brilliant light in the western sky at dusk and setting just before 9 p.m.

Each August brings the return of the Perseid meteor shower, the year's most famous shower.

More Lahaina Noons are due in July. On July 15 at 12:37 p.m. in Honolulu, the sun will pass exactly overhead and upright objects such as flagpoles will cast no shadow.

While it’s not yet June, you may catch two special astronomy events today. At 12:28 p.m. today in Honolulu, the sun will go ex- actly overhead, known as “Lahaina Noon.” An upright object such as a flagpole will have no shadow.

On May 9, Hawaii will be the only state to see the first solar eclipse of 2013. At the peak of the eclipse, at 3:48 p.m., a viewer using a safe filter will see 44 percent of the sun blocked by the moon.

The solar system's two biggest planets, Jupiter and Saturn, are well placed for viewing in April. Venus and Mars are lost in the light of the sun all month, and Mercury puts in a typically fleeting appearance.

By Comet C/2011 L4 makes an appearance just after sunset this month.

We see a lot of changes in the planets this month: We lose two, gain one, and two planets hold steady in the night. The elusive planet Mercury appears in our skies for the first time in 2013, low in the west at dusk for much of the month.

There will be a brilliant pass of the International Space Station on New Year's Day. Look for the space station low in the northwest at about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. When it first appears, the station will look as bright as a very bright star.

On Dec. 2, the planet Jupiter is in opposition. The sun and Jupiter will be on opposite sides of the Earth. So, when the sun sets in the west in early December, Jupiter will be exactly opposite, rising in the east.

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.

If you are at all an early riser or a late go-to-bed type, you have probably noticed Jupiter already, blazing in the east in the early hours.

t's been a great summer for the planetarium. We installed a Digistar 4 full-dome video system in the Watumull Planetarium this summer, ahead of our other renovations, and got full use of the system.

NASA's Mars Science Laboratory, known as Curiosity, is scheduled to land on Mars in the early evening next Sunday. This is the largest and most complex rover we've sent to Mars, and arguably the most complex robot ever sent to any other world in the solar system.

June was a really good month for astronomy and space sciences at Bishop Museum.

The Transit of Venus, one of the rarest of predictable astronomical events, occurs from 12:09 to 6:42 p.m. on June 5.

As seen from the islands, a small portion of the sun will be blocked by the moon on the afternoon of May 20. From Honolulu the first contact of moon and sun will occur at 2:03 p.m.

April is the best single month to see the constella- tions from Hawaii. Nearly all the famous ones are visible, from Orion to the Dippers to the Southern Cross and the Scorpion.

March is a great month for planets. Mars peaks in brightness, and Venus and Jupiter are in conjunction in the middle of the month. Saturn shines in the early morning sky and Mercury shines at dusk for the early part of the month.

A video system that makes observers feel like they are flying through the rings of Saturn is part of an impending upgrade at the Bishop Museum's Watumull Planetarium. With a state appropriation of $1.5 million, we will install a hybrid system, in which a state-of-the-art star machine will work with a full-dome video system to provide a full astronomical educational experience.

A total lunar eclipse will take place early on Dec. 10. As seen from the islands, the moon will be in total eclipse for about 45 minutes, from 4:10 to 4:55 a.m. So, you either need to stay up late on Dec. 9 or set your alarm for very early Dec. 10.

Throughout November, the two brightest dots of light in the sky, Jupiter and Venus, face off at dusk. For the first weeks of the month, fainter Mercury hangs just below Venus.

The planet Mars shines in the early morning sky, rising in the east at 2 a.m. at the start of October and by 1:30 a.m. at the end of the month. The planet is at first magnitude, as bright as a bright star. If you look closely, you can see that it does have a pale orange color.

At the start of September, look for Saturn at dusk (7:30 p.m.) about 10 degrees above the western horizon — about the width of a fist held at arm's length.

Each August brings the return of the year's most famous shower, the Perseid meteor shower. The Perseid shower is well-known because it's a reliable shower, and also because it occurs in mid-summer, when the weather is better.



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