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Friday, January 21, 2000

Eclipse eludes
view, but hope

Stargazers who braved the
Blowhole took solace in knowing
of a later lunar date

By Mary Adamski


Mariano and Feliz Viernes of Ewa picked up a pizza and drove their two boys to the east coast of Oahu wanting to show them the lunar eclipse.

"This would've been the day to catch a 6:30 p.m. flight to the Big Island," said astronomy buff David Mongold as it became clear that the view from the ground was blocked by storm clouds.

They were among about a dozen optimists who lined the wall of Blowhole Lookout last night, staring at the horizon, hoping in vain for a glimpse of the celestial event.

Audrey Hedani, planning to stretch her photography skills, said she dragged friend Mike Muramoto along. It promised to be a good show because the moon is closest to Earth just now, and was expected to be coppery red because of the near-sunset timing of moon rise.

But the pair broke out their hooded jackets in the face of a brisk wind and left the camera and tripod in the car.

At the far end, Kauwila Sheldon, Mike Wang and a friend who declined to be identified said they just came to talk and hang out, not knowing about the eclipse. "This is a powerful place, all the elements, earth, sea and sky, are strong here," Sheldon said.

"If we could see it, it would be exciting," said Mongold, a University of Hawaii planning analyst. A member of the Planetary Society, he remembers the solar eclipses he observed as a child in Iowa, when he poked a pinhole in cardboard to create a shadow show.

University of Hawaii student John Dudgeon wasn't totally disappointed because he knows the sun, Earth and moon will line up for another lunar eclipse July 16.

"It's going to be one of the longest lasting in several years," nearly two hours, said Dudgeon, who will be on an archaeology field study trip in Fiji. "I'm going to tell everyone, up the hill," he told a friend in anticipation. "It's super clear there."

Mongold said viewing conditions for the July eclipse will be altogether better than last night's disappointment. Besides less likelihood of bad weather in the summer, the eclipse will occur later in the night and be visible from Waikiki and points west, he said.

Meanwhile, Bon Viernes, 7, fell asleep in the family van, despite the liveliest efforts of his brother Bien, 4.

Then a policeman came along and announced that Kalanianaole Highway was about to be closed down for a road project.

It gave everyone the excuse they needed to give up and go home.

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