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Sailing by the stars - Hawaiian voyaging

How did the ancestors of today's Hawaiian people reach this most isolated archipelago? Where did they come from? Why did they leave their homes? “Sailing by the Stars,” a presentation this Saturday, August 16, at 6:00 pm at the Ellison Onizuka Center for International Astronomy presentation room will explore these questions through astronomy, celestial navigation, and wayfinding. Manu Josiah and his wife, Leilehua, will be the presenters, so prepare for lots of music and storytelling to illustrate this month's theme!

This annual presentation is tied into the `Imiloa Navigation theme.

Stars are easily seen during the dry months, so it is the perfect time for the beginning kilohoku to learn their patterns and lore. Attendees will learn how Polynesian navigators follow star lines to Hawaii, and then take their handouts to the VIS to practice wayfinding techniques and to observe the night sky with and without telescopes.

After the presentation, join the star party on the lanai of the Ellison Onizuka Center for International Astronomy, and enjoy the beauty of the stars from one of the world’s premier sites for astronomy.

Those who come to the Maunakea Culture Night talks should wear layers, including a nice warm jacket. Socks and shoes are recommended, and gloves are recommended. Bring a bottle of water to drink, and a flashlight. Be polite to those who are stargazing and cover the light with a red lens or filter. Tissues for those whose noses run in cold weather are good, as well. Please read this link for more safety information.

For those unfamiliar with the island, there are no streetlights on the road up the mountain. We must preserve our beautiful dark skies! And, Mauna Kea sticks her head up above the clouds, which means you will be driving through them, so plan for at least an hour of travel time from Hilo. Please read this link for driving information.

Hawai`i is now in the season of Kau, the brilliant summer months, and also the hurricane season, 1 June through 30 November, as everyone here should now know! The rains are less frequent, and the dry spells lengthening. And yet, weather can still be quite changeable, especially on the Hilo/Hāmākua uplands.

We are about midway through the Hawaiian month of Ka`aona. The air is still and humid.

Some prominent stars and constellations this month are: Hōkū Le`a (Happy Star), also known as Arcturus; Pūnana (Nest), also known as Hōkū Pa`a (Fixed Star), in English called the North Star; `Iwa Wahine (Lady Frigate Bird), known in English as the Big Dipper; `Iwa Keli`i (Royal Frigate Bird) or Cassiopeia; and Lehua Kona (Southern Lehua Blossom), or Antares.

For more information on the Malalo i ka Pō Lani culture night programs at the Onizuka Center for International Astronomy, contact the Mauna Kea Visitor’s Information Station. Phone: (808) 961-2180 Fax: (808) 969-4892. You can also visit us on FaceBook at our page, Ma Lalo o ka Pō Lani.

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