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by Donald B. MacGowan

At Ho'okena Beach, Kona Hawaii: Graphic from Photo by Donnie MacGowan

There are many wondrous, enigmatic and fascinating attractions on the Big Island of Hawaii, some better known than others, many out of the way and generally off the beaten track.  Tour Guide Hawaii has produced an encyclopedic collection of the most up-to-date information, presented as short GPS-cued videos, in an app downloadable to iPhone and iPod Touch that covers the entire Big Island, highlighting the popular and the uncrowded, the famous and the secluded, the adventurous and the relaxing.

Ho’okena Beach County Park at Kauhako Bay

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Looking south at Ho'okena Beach, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Brilliant snorkeling, decent boogie boarding, passable shell collecting and wonderful camping—it’s a wonder Ho’okena Beach is not more popular with visitors. Nestled alongside the ruins of Ho’okena Village at Kauhako Bay, this beach is a wonderful place to spend a morning or a weekend.

To reach Ho’okena Beach Park, take the turnoff between mile markers 101 and 102 just south of the town of Ho’okena. The narrow road drops steeply to the beach affording magnificent views of the Kona Coast, especially at sunset. Once you reach the bottom stay left through the minuscule village to the beach park, hemmed between lush tropical vegetation and soft warm sands, under majestic cliffs and swaying palm trees—truly a vision of paradise.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Patient parent at Ho'okena Beach, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

The once-thriving Ho’okena Village, which in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was the main rival to Kailua Kona for steamer traffic, was a major transshipment point for beef, sugar and mail, and once was host to author Robert Louis Stevenson. Ho’okena’s glory is now all but forgotten, a victim of ravaging of tsunamis, storms, earthquakes and the quiet passing of time. Today, the small cluster of dwellings at the beach, the stumpy remnant footings of Kupa Wharf and the ruins the village are all that remain.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Ho'okena boogie boarding and Big Smiles, Ho'okena Beach, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Frequented by dolphin, stuffed full of pelagic and reef fish and turtles and boasting crystal clear, warm and calm waters, Ho’okena is a must-see beach and reef complex for avid snorkelers and divers as well as sea kayakers. During the winter months, female Humpback whales and their babies frequent the waters off this bay.

Folks generally snorkel in two main areas at Ho’okena. The first is easy and obvious to find; simply follow the tongue of sand, straight out from the left-hand side of the beach. This provides the easiest entry and safest snorkeling; lots of fascinating underwater topography, beautiful coral heads and abundant colorful fish are seen here and north towards the old pier in fairly shallow water. The underwater visibility in this spot can be less than ideal (although still great), but water clarity improves if you move south to the second area, to the far left of the beach.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Discovery! Ho'okena Beach, Kona Hawaii Photo by Donnie MacGowan

To go there, enter the bay as above, but swim out south (left) of the beach past the rocky finger jutting out in to the water; here you will find some tremendously colorful and intensely beautiful little reefs. A small patch of coral to be sure, but the vivid colors are some of the most stunning you will see in shallow water. The gradient to the beach is steep and the bottom drops once you enter the water; snorkelers should be aware that they will find themselves in deep water rather quickly. Be wary when swimming very far out from shore, there are strong currents out in Kauhako Bay; do not go in if the surf is high…remember there is no lifeguard.

There is no shortage of exploration to do onshore, either. The many trails leading back from the beach lead to copses of tropical trees, abandoned Hawai’ian villages, strange, twisted lava forms and springs. Eventually most trails lead south to a few small, sandy beaches where ocean current conditions make shell collecting possible. In about a mile, you reach Kalahiki Beach, across Limukoko Point, a place of quiet spirituality and incredible beauty, though poor snorkeling.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Yoga on the beach, Ho'okena Beach, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

You can also get here by hiking about 400 yards back above the beach along the road you drove in on, then south about a mile over the hills and through cow fields, down a little cliff and to Kalahiki Beach—it is very much worthwhile.

Bushwhacking inland through dense foliage brings one quickly to the ruins of Kalahiki Village and the famous, four-tiered heiau. Remember that these places are sacred to the Hawai’ians; if you go, go with respect for the Hawai’ians and malama aina in your heart. Do not litter, don’t disturb stone walls and platforms, do not take anything you didn’t bring with you, and take out everything you did bring in, when you leave.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Ho'okena Beach on a semi-cloudy day is still a hazard for sunburn, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Hiking north from the beach park along the lava bench, through small pockets of sand, you will pass the ruins of an old Catholic church. Abandoned after sustaining heavy damage in the late 1800s, it was reestablished up mauka between Honaunau and Captain Cook; you may know it as the “Painted Church”.   More ruins of Old Ho’okena Village lie overgrown in the jungle. After the church comes Kealia Beach, where, due to the cliffs, swimming is difficult but the snorkeling and near-shore scuba diving are excellent. Kealia Beach is also reachable by public road.

Hookena Beach on a semi-cloudy day is still a hazard for sunburn, Kona Hawaii Photo by Donnie MacGowan.jpg

Camping on Ho'okena Beach, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Although a County Park, camping at Ho’okena is handled through a private/public partnership with KUPA Ho’okena; reservations for camping can be made online (http://hookena.org/camping.html) or over the phone (808.328-7321). Same day reservations may be available on a first-come/first served basis, but advanced reservations are highly recommended—camping here is becoming ever more popular. Although there has been conflict in the past (sometimes quite violent) between locals and visitors, the park has become much safer since administration was taken over by KUPA Ho’okena. KUPA Ho’okena also rents, on-site, camping gear, masks/fins/snorkels and kayaks and has a snack stand.

Wonderful beach camping, new showers and restrooms, picnic tables and abundant fresh water make this county park a gem worth seeking out.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Outrigger fishing canoes rest at Ho'okena Beach, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

To see the new iPhone/iPod Touch App, please visit http://www.tourguidehawaii.com/iphone.html. The best of Tour Guide Hawaii’s free content about traveling to, and exploring, the Big island, can be found here. For more information on traveling to Hawaii in general and on touring the Big Island in particular, please also visit www.tourguidehawaii.com and www.tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Looking for waves, Ho'okena Beach, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

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New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Hard at Play, Ho'okena Beach, Kona Hawaii Photo by Donnie MacGowan

All media copyright 2009 by Donald B. MacGowan. All rights reserved.

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by Donnie MacGowan

69 West Side Beaches 1_edited-1

Waialea Beach (Beach 69) Is a Hidden Gem That Is Just Waiting For You To Explore: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Whether you visit the Big Island for a few days, a couple weeks or a few months, you want to make the most of your time in Paradise.  With such a wide variety of natural and commercial attractions, it is natural for the visitor to get a little overwhelmed in the “Option Overload” and not be able to make balanced and informed decisions on what they want to do and how best to spend their time.

Even choosing the beach you want to spend time on…which beach?  How do you find the right beach for your particular needs?  Are you going just to relax and sunbathe somewhere near your hotel?  Or is the trip to snorkel, boogie board or to explore?  Do you want a beach that’s alive with fun people or one hidden, secluded and empty?  Do you want a beach near your resort or one that’s at the end of a day of delicious wandering?

Kua Bay Sunbathers: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Kua Bay Sunbathers: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Ranked in order, with the best on top, are our picks of the best beaches on the Island of Hawaii—we tried to choose beaches with a range of attributes and interesting features, rather than beaches that are all very similar.  Ranking these beaches is an onerous task since each is a gem and we’ve had to leave off many that are equally fine for their own reasons.  This list at least provides an excellent starting point for deciding where you want to spend you beach time.

Hapuna Beach: A mile long, 200 meters wide and with warm, calm, crystal clear-turquoise waters, always one of the top-ranked beaches internationally, Hapuna is clearly the “Alpha Beach” on the island.  Sometimes crowded, this beach is usually fairly empty until about 11 a.m.  A great beach for sunbathing, it has only fair boogie boarding and rather passe snorkeling.

Hapuna Beach from the south: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Hapuna Beach from the south: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Anaeho’omalu Bay: A long crescent of sugary sand backed by swaying palm trees; snorkel, sail, paddle boat and kayak rentals on the beach and interesting hikes both north and south, make Anaeho’omalu is a great place to spend the day for any family.  Anaeho’omalu is one of the most sought-after sunset images to photograph in the state of Hawaii. Although spectacular for its scenery and beach social scene, the water at Anaeho’omalu is a bit cloudy for ideal snorkeling.

The Justly Famous Anaeho'omalu Beach is a Long Crescent of Gorgeous Sand: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

The Justly Famous Anaeho'omalu Beach is a Long Crescent of Gorgeous Sand: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Punalu’u Black Sand Beach: The large, beautiful beach with acres of jet black sand, backed by a jungle of palm trees and with clear waters stuffed with endangered green sea turtles make Punalu’u not just one of the loveliest beaches in the world, but also one of the most interesting.  Although a little cold due to near-shore springs, the clear waters and black sand bottom at Punalu’u offer fabulous and unique snorkeling.  Madly crazy rip tides and strong currents out near the surf zone make Punalu’u a dangerous place for beginning boogie boarders.  There are numerous historic and pre-contact ruins in the area that make this a great place for exploration.

Bradford MacGowan Filming at Punalu'u Beach: Photo By Donnie MacGowan

Bradford MacGowan Filming at Punalu'u Beach: Photo By Donnie MacGowan

Waialea Beach: Another lonely crescent of sugar sand which is relatively unknown, even by many locals, Waialea is generally uncrowded, lovely beyond description, and has a wild underwater features to tempt even the most jaded snorkeler.  Fine snorkel exploring, hiking and scrambling both north and south of the beach yield secret treasures of small coves, private inlets, sea arches and wild underwater topography.

Happy Bathers Relax in the Warm, Crystaline Waters of Waialea Bay: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Happy Bathers Relax in the Warm, Crystalline Waters of Waialea Bay: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Makalawena Beach: Perhaps the loveliest beach in Polynesia, Makalawena is the perfect sand crescent beach backed by palms and iron wood trees and with morning-glory-draped sand dunes.  A easy mile hike in from Kekaha Kai State Park keeps this beach uncrowded. Snorkeling here is better than perfect, camping here is so wonderful we don’t know why it’s not actually mandatory.  The coastline hike a few miles north from Makalawena to Kua Bay along the ancient, paved Ala Ali’i (Trail of Kings) is one of the finest, most rewarding shoreline hikes on the island.

Long, Lonely and Wholly Wonderful Makalawena Beach in Kekahai State Park: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Long, Lonely and Wholly Wonderful Makalawena Beach in Kekaha Kai State Park: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Mahana Green Sand Beach (South Point): One of a handful of true green sand beaches in the world, the Mahana Green Sand Beach near South Point is not to be missed.  Beautiful, haunting, intriguing. Although the hike is 2 ¼ miles each way, the trail is relatively flat and easily followed. Snorkeling here, due to the green sand and vibrant water color is delightfully weird—be sure to purchase an inexpensive, disposable underwater camera.  Scenery is best viewed early morning and afternoon, although afternoons tend to be quite windy.  Swimming is safe in the protected bowl of the bay, but strong, relentless currents in the open ocean call for extreme caution beyond the bay.

Mahana Green Sand Beach in the Afternoon: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Mahana Green Sand Beach in the Afternoon: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Kua Bay: One of Hawaii County’s newest beach parks, Kua Bay is a true gem of a beach—although somewhat small, it is a lovely setting with warm waters perfect for snorkeling, boogie boarding or just relaxing in. In recent years, Kua Bay has become Kona’s leading “social beach” with scores of young visitors and locals coming to chill in the sand and sun every day.  Snorkeling is superb on both the north and south ends near the rocks, boogie boarding is great when the surf is up…like all Hawaii’s beaches, Kua can become hazardous in times of high surf.

Kua Bay from the north: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Kua Bay from the north: Photo by Donald MacGowan

For more information about traveling to Hawaii in general and exploring the Big Island in particular, please also visit www.tourguidehawaii.com and www.tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com. Information about the author can be found here.

All media copyright 2009 by Donald B. MacGowan.

Hilo Side: Akaka Falls to Panaewa Rainforest Zoo

On your way back to the highway, stop in Honomu for some local-style shopping and a snack. Handmade curios and ice creams will delight your senses. Once back on Highway 19, turn right toward Hilo, about 10 minutes away.

Hilo is one of the wettest cities in the U.S. averaging around 200 inches per year. This old-style Hawaii town is quaint and bustling. Lots of great shops line the waterfront drive and the largest farmer’s market on the island is situated there as well. Tour Guide will take you right into the heart of town and give you history and attractions, such as the Pacific Tsunami Museum, and the Imiloa Astronomy Center at the University of Hawaii, Hilo Campus. A little farther along the coast are some beautiful beach parks like Richardson and Onekahakaha. Great picnicking, swimming and some good snorkeling can be found here. The Suisan Fish Market is famous for the early morning old-style fish auction. Be sure to take your time in Hilo as the shopping food options are immense.

In Hilo, you will turn north onto Highway. 11 at the intersection near Ken’s Pancake House, a landmark eatery. You will see the airport and Prince Kuhio Plaza on your way out of town. Stop in and visit the mall and shop and eat if you missed it in town. Just a few miles north of the mall is the Panaewa Rainforest Zoo. Tour Guide will tell you how this is the only rainforest zoo in North America. It is also free.

Super Tip: Gasoline in Hilo is typically 6-10 cents per gallon cheaper because it is the main port on the island. It is wise to fill up before heading back to Kona.

This completes this drive day. I suggest returning north through Hilo and back up the Hamakua Coast, through Waimea, and Highway 190 back to Kona.

For further information, visit www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Reprinted from here.

Point Forecast: Kailua Kona HI
19.63N -156W (Elev. 0 ft)
Last Update: 6:55 am HST Jul 29, 2008
Forecast Valid: 9am HST Jul 29, 2008-6pm HST Aug 4, 2008
Forecast at a Glance
Today

Isolated Showers Chance for Measurable Precipitation 20%
Isolated
Showers
Hi 84°F
Tonight

Isolated Showers Chance for Measurable Precipitation 20%
Isolated
Showers
Lo 74°F
Wednesday

Isolated Showers Chance for Measurable Precipitation 20%
Isolated
Showers
Hi 85°F
Wednesday
Night

Haze
Haze

Lo 73°F

Thursday

Isolated Showers Chance for Measurable Precipitation 20%
Isolated
Showers
Hi 84°F
Thursday
Night

Haze
Haze

Lo 73°F

Friday

Isolated Showers Chance for Measurable Precipitation 20%
Isolated
Showers
Hi 85°F
Friday
Night

Haze
Haze

Lo 72°F

Saturday

Isolated Showers Chance for Measurable Precipitation 20%
Isolated
Showers
Hi 85°F
Detailed text forecast
Hazardous weather condition(s):

Today: Isolated showers. Widespread haze. Partly cloudy, with a high near 84. West wind around 9 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Tonight: Isolated showers before midnight. Widespread haze. Partly cloudy, with a low around 74. East wind around 8 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Wednesday: Isolated showers after noon. Widespread haze. Partly cloudy, with a high near 85. East wind around 8 mph becoming west. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Wednesday Night: Widespread haze. Partly cloudy, with a low around 73. East wind around 7 mph.

Thursday: Isolated showers after noon. Widespread haze. Partly cloudy, with a high near 84. East wind around 7 mph becoming west. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Thursday Night: Widespread haze. Partly cloudy, with a low around 73. East wind around 6 mph.

Friday: Isolated showers after noon. Widespread haze. Partly cloudy, with a high near 85. East wind around 7 mph becoming west. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Friday Night: Widespread haze. Partly cloudy, with a low around 72. East wind around 6 mph.

Saturday: Isolated showers. Widespread haze. Partly cloudy, with a high near 85. East wind around 7 mph becoming west. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Saturday Night: Widespread haze. Partly cloudy, with a low around 73. East wind around 8 mph.

Sunday: Isolated showers. Widespread haze. Partly cloudy, with a high near 85. East wind around 9 mph becoming west. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Sunday Night: Widespread haze. Partly cloudy, with a low around 73. East wind around 9 mph.

Monday: Isolated showers. Widespread haze. Partly cloudy, with a high near 85. East wind around 9 mph becoming west. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

For more information on traveling to Hawaii in general or touring the Big Island in particular, go to www.tourguidehawaii.com, or here.


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In ancient times, the Ali’i competed with each other in the sport of Holua, or sledding. A long, steep, trackway paved with stones would be constructed downslope and then covered with tamped dirt and topped with dried grass. The Ali’i would race down these tracks on wooden sleds, or “holua” as competition. These races were very dangerous and only the Ali’i were allowed to compete. This particular holua is unique because, not only is it the largest and longest and best preserved in Hawai’i, but also because when constructed it went all the way into the sea at Keauhou Bay.

Despite this important archeological site being a National Historic Landmark, much of it was bulldozed by developers building resorts and a golf course.

The nearby village of Holualoa is named after this sledway; “holua” meaning “sled” and “loa” meaning “long”.

The Historic Landmark is best viewed from Ali’i Drive, directly across from the Kona Country Club parking lot. No facilities.

For more information on exploring the Big Island of Hawaii in general, and the ancient villages and temples of Kona in particular, visit: www.tourguidehawaii.com and www.tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com.

Produced by Donald MacGowan.

As you continue around the Crater Rim Drive, at Volcanoes National Park, there are dozens of great sights. A more recent crater, erupting with fire curtains in 1974, is Keanakako’i Crater. The pebbles around the rim were formed by froth from the lava as it was blasted into the air and cooled as they fell to the ground. This crater is a bit off-the-beaten-path, but Tour Guide shows the way.

Right along the Crater Rim Drive is the Devastation Trail formed by Kilauea Iki. When the Pu’u Pai vent erupted in 1959 it spewed pumice cinder and scalding ash burying the rainforest some ten feet deep. This caused the forested area to die leaving a barren wasteland where little has grown since. Tour Guide will take you on the three quarter mile paved hike, along the edge of this moonscaped region, and give more historical information as well.

At the end of the Devastation Trail is the Pu’u Pai overlook. This spot affords a view of Pu’u Pai (gushing hill) and Kilauea Iki (little Kilauea) and skirts the edge of the desert and rainforest as if some drew a line separating the two. Tour Guide gives the fascinating stories of 1900 foot lava fountains during this episode.

Super Tip: Bring plenty of water. I can’t stress this enough. There are few facilities available on the drives and hikes around the park, so make sure you stock up before leaving the Visitor’s Center. Besides, good hydration will keep you energized for all your fun activities. To your health.

On the east side of Crater Rim Drive is a delightful stop not to be missed, Thurston Lava Tube. Tour Guide will tell you how lava tubes are formed when magma flows underground. It eventually empties leaving cave-like formations. Most lava tubes are very small; however Thurston Lava Tube is quite large. The National Park Service has paved a pathway through the tube, and installed lighting, to make this a 300 yard spelunking adventure for everyone to enjoy. The cave circles so that the entrance and exit end at the parking area. The giant ferns here invited the songs of exotic birds, many of which are found nowhere else in the world. This is one of the few locations where restrooms are available.

One of the best hiking and biking routes is the Escape Road. Built for just what its name implies an alternate road for when the lava will inevitably cut the Chain of Crater Road, it makes a lovely down hill walk or bike ride. Tour Guide will show where to start at the Thurston Lava Tube parking area and end at the Mauna Ulu parking lot. This road meanders through some of the most cool and pristine rainforest to be found.

At the other end of the Escape Road is Mauna Ulu, also accessible from Chain of Craters Road. This spot was formed by numerous eruptions between 1969 and 1974. A few yards down the road, you see the different types of lava formations left from these flows. Tour Guide will explain these types of lava in great detail. Across the expanse lies Pu’u Huluhulu, or shaggy hill. For those that are ready hike, there is a tree mile round trip hike to the top of Pu’u Huluhulu marked by cairns. From the summit, the views of the lava flows and coastline are indescribable.

This article reprinted from http://www.astroday.net/bishopsky.html

Bishop Museum Sky Map for Hawaii, June 2008

SKY GEOMETRY

The patterns we see in the sky exist only in our imagination. The points of light we group to create the shapes we call constellations are arbitrary and usually don’t have any connection with each other at all except that they happened to line up in someone’s mind at one time. The 88 “official” constellations are recognized by a group of professionals called the International Astronomical Union to help keep order and structure to the science of astronomy. Otherwise, imagine what chaos might reign—how would anyone know how to distinguish one part of the sky from another if names were random? For instance, the constellation Crater the Cup in the southern sky next to Corvus looks remarkably like my Weber grill, but I can’t very well start referring to it as such. As it is, we sometimes “shorten” the constellations anyway. Sagittarius is often referred to as the Teapot, and part of the Big and Little Bears are called the Big and Little Dippers, respectively.

Informal groupings or segments of constellations are called asterisms. They are usually parts of constellations that are more easily recognized, like the Dippers and the Teapot, and at times the references are updated. Some constellations are simply easier to recognize by these nicknames. I have heard the constellation Boötes the Herdsman referred to as a “bowtie” or “ice cream cone”, which most people relate to better.

Sometimes asterisms include groups of stars or constellations, like the Summer Triangle. Known anecdotally as a basic element of celestial navigation, the Summer Triangle is comprised of the three brightest stars in three separate constellations forming a large, distinctly triangular shape in the sky. First to rise in the east is the star Vega in the constellation Lyra the Lyre. Lyra is a small constellation that takes a bit of effort to imagine the harp-shaped instrument from the parallelogram of stars, but it is an area rich in telescopic sights. One is the famous Ring Nebula, M57—a little smoke-ring object that is the remains of a dying star seen at the center of the ring.

Vega is a white star and the fifth brightest star in the sky. Twelve thousand years ago Vega used to be our North Star, but because the Earth slowly “wobbles” (think of a spinning top, except our wobble is 26,000 years long!) the North Pole points toward different stars periodically. Right now, almost halfway through the wobble’s circle, Polaris is our North Star but in another 14,000 years Vega will take that title again.

Almost two hours after Vega rises the second point of the Triangle appears in the east in Cygnus the Swan. Although this constellation can be easily visualized as a bird, it does have an asterism associated with it. Part of the body and wingspan of the Swan is known as the Northern Cross. The star Deneb is the tail feather of the bird and is the brightest star in that constellation. Opposite from Deneb is an interesting star called Alberio. With a low powered telescope or even binoculars what looks like a single star will split into a beautiful sapphire blue and golden pair of stars.

A half hour later, Altair in Aquila the Eagle makes its appearance over the eastern horizon. Altair and Vega represent two figures in Japanese folklore that are celebrated with a national holiday in the country. Altair is the handsome herdsman Hikoboshi (also known as Kengyu) that fell in love with Orihime (Vega), the beautiful fabric-weaver. Their preoccupation with each other began to interfere with their duties, and as a result the gods separated them across a vast river in the sky. You can see that “heavenly river” in the dark sky as the white band of light called the Milky Way.

Fortunately, the story doesn’t end here—the gods heard the unhappy cries of the two lovers and took pity on them. On the seventh day of the seventh month, the two are united for one day as a flock of magpies build a living bridge to bring the two together. Today this occasion is celebrated by a festive holiday called Tanabata in Japan on July 7, although in early times this date was determined by the lunar calendar.

Following the Summer Triangle (and the parallelogram of Lyra) is the big Square of Pegasus. But because it is not included on this month’s map, I will save that “astro-geometry” lesson for another month!

The Planets

Earth:

Summer kicks off, at least astronomically, with the solstice on June 20. At 2:00 P.M. HST the sun crosses from the southern hemisphere into the northern hemisphere, marked by the celestial equator. (The celestial equator is an imaginary line that extends the Earth’s equator into space)

Mercury:

Mercury is passing in front of the sun for most of the month and will reappear in the morning sky during the last week of June. It hangs over the red “bull’s eye” of Taurus in the light of the rising sun.

Venus:

Venus is behind the sun right now, what is referred to as superior conjunction. It will be another month before it will appear back in the evening sky and blaze in the west after the sun sets.

Mars:

Mars quickly moved from Gemini through Cancer last month and will settle in the constellation Leo during June. Saturn has also been a resident of Leo recently and the two planets are heading for a conjunction in July. You can watch the Red Planet edge closer to yellowish Saturn over the month, with Regulus (the brightest star in Leo) in the middle.

The NASA mission to Mars, called Phoenix (see May’s article) will make its descent to Mars on May 25. Unfortunately I cannot update the status of this mission because this article is filed before this date, but I will definitely talk about Phoenix next month.

Jupiter:

The King of Planets rules the night, shining brighter than any other object besides the Moon this month. Jupiter rises by 10:00 P.M. in early June and about two hours earlier by the end of the month. On June 18, the full Moon enters Sagittarius, the same constellation as Jupiter, and the next evening the waning Moon moves just south of the giant planet.

Saturn:
Look for Saturn high in the west at nightfall during the first half of June, then only about halfway up in that direction by the end of the month. The rings of the gas planet is continuing to tip edgewise to our line of sight and well worth watching over the upcoming months. You will need a telescope to really appreciate this sight, however.

Questions? Contact Carolyn Kaichi @ hokupaa@bishopmuseum.org or 847-8203.

For information ad videos about visiting Hawaii in general and touring the Big Island in particular, visit www.tourguidehawaii.com and www.tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com.

Tour Guide GPS-guided tours is the most revolutionary product ever offered the Hawaii visitor, putting the magic of Hawaii at your fingertips…turn-by-turn directions, over 600 video presentations for sites of interest, searchable database–this is one very handy and fun gadget!

Is travel to the Big Island of Hawaii on your horizon? Rent Tour Guide and Hawaii comes alive in the palm of your hand.

Traditional Hawaiian chant written and performed by Frank Burgess.

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Hilo Side: Akaka Falls to Panaewa Rainforest Zoo

On your way back to the highway, stop in Honomu for some local-style shopping and a snack. Handmade curios and ice creams will delight your senses. Once back on Highway 19, turn right toward Hilo, about 10 minutes away.

Hilo is one of the wettest cities in the U.S. averaging around 200 inches per year. This old-style Hawaii town is quaint and bustling. Lots of great shops line the waterfront drive and the largest farmer’s market on the island is situated there as well. Tour Guide will take you right into the heart of town and give you history and attractions, such as the Pacific Tsunami Museum, and the Imiloa Astronomy Center at the University of Hawaii, Hilo Campus. A little farther along the coast are some beautiful beach parks like Richardson and Onekahakaha. Great picnicking, swimming and some good snorkeling can be found here. The Suisan Fish Market is famous for the early morning old-style fish auction. Be sure to take your time in Hilo as the shopping food options are immense.

In Hilo, you will turn north onto Highway. 11 at the intersection near Ken’s Pancake House, a landmark eatery. You will see the airport and Prince Kuhio Plaza on your way out of town. Stop in and visit the mall and shop and eat if you missed it in town. Just a few miles north of the mall is the Panaewa Rainforest Zoo. Tour Guide will tell you how this is the only rainforest zoo in North America. It is also free.

Super Tip: Gasoline in Hilo is typically 6-10 cents per gallon cheaper because it is the main port on the island. It is wise to fill up before heading back to Kona.

This completes this drive day. I suggest returning north through Hilo and back up the Hamakua Coast, through Waimea, and Highway 190 back to Kona.

For further information, visit www.tourguidehawaii.com.