Star-Bulletin Features


Friday, April 27, 2001



FILE PHOTO
The Hawaii Astronomical Society marks
Astronomy Day by sharing the joys of
skywatching at Kahala Mall Saturday.



Navigating the
night skies

By Burl Burlingame
Star-Bulletin

Look up, look up. You see those little twinkly lights? You can see them more clearly away from the light pollution of Honolulu, and away from the brain pollution of the TV set. Those twinkles are stars, and we don't mean the Hollywood kind. We talking about gigantic, blazing balls of gas that attract lesser creations into orbit around them. OK, maybe there is a similarity after all.

Partly because Hawaii is so far from other lands, and partly because Hawaii is a crossroads of science and culture, and partly because Hawaii has some easily accessible, very tall mountains with clear skies, we've become a major astronomical center.

If you'd like to learn more about astronomy and Hawaii's role in it, the Hawaii Astronomical Society is taking over a stage at Kahala Mall 1 to 7 p.m. tomorrow, which is also Astronomy Day.

HAS was founded in 1949, and they're affiliated with the Western Amateur Astronomers. Membership is open to everyone. Members build telescopes, take pictures of space objects, chase eclipses, and stars blinking on and off as planets and asteroids pass in front of them. A meteor special-interest group builds radio equipment to spot the trails of ionized gas left by hurtling meteors. HAS members have even phoned up astronauts aboard the space shuttle and cosmonauts aboard the Mir Space Station.

The society has a newsletter, TheAstronews, and conducts monthly dark-sky star parties, usually held the weekend closest to the new moon. The club owns several telescopes, and members volunteer to operate the Bishop Museum Planetarium's 12.5-foot telescope Friday and Saturday evenings.

Dues are $15 per year ($8 for students, additional family members are $2). More information is available at the HAS web site at http://www.hawastsoc.org.

The group's next meeting is 7:30 p.m. May 1 at Bishop Museum's Atherton Halau. Meetings typically take place the first Tuesday of every month, and often feature talks by professional astronomers or video presentations, planetarium shows or special exhibits.

As for Astronomy Day, it's a worldwide populist movement to share the joys of skywatching. It occurs sometime between mid-April and mid-May on a Saturday near or before the quarter moon.


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