Imiloa, Hilo Attractions | 2016 Sky Calendar
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2016 Sky Calendar

Seasons and the Sun

Earth Perihelion: Saturday, January 2nd, 2:59am HST

At this time, on this day, the Earth is only about 91.4 million miles (147.1 million kilometers) from the Sun. This position is known as perihelion, which is the position in Earth’s elliptical orbit where it is the closest to the sun. There is about a 3 million mile (5 million kilometer) difference between the Earth’s closest position (perihelion) and its furthest position (aphelion).
 

Partial Solar Eclipse: Tuesday, March 8th, 5:37pm HST

On this day, the Moon and the Sun will be perfectly aligned. The moon will block the sun causing a total solar eclipse viewable across much of Singapore and Indonesia. While Hilo won’t be able to witness the full eclipse, we will see the moon partially block the light of the sun. The partial eclipse will begin at 4:37pm HST. We’ll see the maximum amount of eclipse at 5:37pm HST, and the eclipse will end at 6:28pm HST.

 
Vernal/Spring Equinox: Saturday, March 19th, 3:31pm HST

This day marks the Vernal or Spring Equinox when the sun will be rising exactly east and setting exactly west. In the Northern Hemisphere it is celebrated as the first day of spring. Despite the name “equinox,” this day will not actually have equal parts daytime and nighttime. In Hilo, March 14th will be the day with the closest amount of equal day and night, with the day lasting 12 hours and 58 seconds.

 
Mercury Transit: Monday, May 9th

Transit events are when one of the interior planets (Mercury or Venus) passes in front of the Sun from our perspective on the planet Earth. These events tend to be incredibly rare; Venus will transit twice every 243 years, while Mercury will transit about 13 times each century. Mercury will reach maximum transit just about an hour before the Sun rises here in Hilo. However, if one wakes up early and uses a solar telescope, they would be able to view the last portion of the transit.

 
Lahaina Noon: Wednesday, May 18th, 12:16pm HST

This date marks the first of two special days called Lahaina Noon. Lahaina Noon is the Hawaiian term for the tropical phenomena that sees the sun pass directly overhead at solar noon ­­- as a result, vertical objects, like lamp posts, will cast no shadow. Here at ‘Imiloa, our skylight will perfectly illuminate the mosaic on our atrium floor. The exact date and time of Lahaina Noon depends on one’s latitude in the tropics. The time listed above is for Lahaina Noon in Hilo.

 
Summer Solstice: Monday, June 21st, 12:35pm HST

The Summer Solstice occurs on this day. This is the first day of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. This is the date and time that the sun is directly over the Tropic of Cancer, the northernmost point it reaches. For places north of the equator, like Hawai‘i, this is the longest day of the year (with 13 hours, 19 minutes, and 22 seconds of daylight for Hilo). North of the Tropic of Cancer, this is also the day which the sun reaches its highest point in the sky. In the tropics, however, this occurs during the two instances of Lahaina Noon.

 
Earth Aphelion: Monday, July 4th, 5:59am HST

At this time, on this day, the Earth is 95 million miles (152 million kilometers) away from the sun. This position is known as aphelion, which is the position in Earth’s elliptical orbit where it is the furthest from the sun. There is about a 3 million mile (5 million kilometer) difference between the Earth’s closest position (perihelion) and its furthest position (aphelion).

 
Lahaina Noon: Sunday, July 24th, 12:26pm HST

This time and date marks the second instance of Lahaina Noon, when the sun will appear directly overhead at solar noon. This is an event that can only be experienced in the tropics. The exact date and time of Lahaina Noon will depend on your latitude in the tropics. The time listed above is for Lahaina Noon in Hilo.

Autumnal/Fall Equinox: Thursday, September 22nd, 4:21am HST

This day marks the Autumnal or Fall Equinox, the second time this year where the sun will be rising exactly east and setting exactly west. In the Northern Hemisphere this day marks the first day of autumn. Despite the name “equinox,” this day will not actually have equal parts daytime and nighttime. In Hilo, September 27th will be second day with the closest amount of equal day and night, with the day lasting 12 hours and 58 seconds.

 
Winter Solstice: Wednesday, December 21st, 12:45am HST

The Winter Solstice occurs on this day. This is the first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere. This is the date and time that the sun is directly over the Tropic of Capricorn, the southernmost point it reaches. For places north of the equator, like Hawai‘i, this is the shortest day of the year (with only 10 hours 56 minutes and 33 seconds of daylight for Hilo) and the day which the sun’s elevation at solar noon is its lowest.

Note 1: HST is the abbreviation for Hawai‘i Standard Time. HST is 10 hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).

Note 2: Hawai‘i does not observe Daylight Saving Time

Phases of the Moon – 2016

 

New Moon

First Quarter

Full Moon

Last Quarter

 
 
 
January 1st

January 9th

January 16th

January 23rd

January 31st

February 8th

February 14th

February 22nd

March 1st

March 8th

*Total Solar Eclipse*

March 15th

March 23rd 

*Pen. Lunar Eclipse*

March 31st

April 7th

April 13th

April 21st

April 29th

May 6

May 13th

May 21st

May 29th

June 4th

June 11th

June 20th

June 27th

July 4th

July 11th

July 19th

July 26th

August 2nd

August 10th

August 17th

August 24th

August 31st

 *Annular Solar eclipse*

September 9th

September 16th

*Pen. Lunar Eclipse*

September 22nd

September 30th

October 8th

October 15th

October 22nd

October 30th

November 7th

November 14th

November 20th

November 29th

December 6th

December 13th

December 20th

December 28th

 
 
 

 

Special Lunar Events

Penumbral Lunar Eclipse: Wednesday, March 23rd

Compared to the “Blood Moon” appearances of Total Lunar eclipses, Penumbral Lunar Eclipses are significantly less impressive. During this eclipse the moon will pass through the partial shadow (penumbra) of the Earth; this causes the surface of the moon to darken slightly but not completely. On March 23rd, the eclipse will start at 11:39 pm, hitting maximum eclipse at 1:47am and finishing at 3:54am.

 
Micro moon on April 21st

The opposite of a super moon, a micro moon occurs when the moon is full at its furthest position from Earth, a position called apogee. While micro moons do not appear smaller than other full moons (the difference is only a few percent), it does have a noticeable effect on Earth. Because the moon is farther from Earth, the gravitational pull of the moon on Earth decreases, causing tides on the Earth’s oceans that are smaller and lower than normal. This is true whenever the moon is at apogee, regardless of whether or not it is full.

 
Super Moons on October 15th, November 14th, and December 13th

When the moon is full at its closest position to Earth, a position called perigee, we refer to it as a super moon. While the super moons will not appear much larger than other full moons (the difference is a few percent) there can be a noticeable difference in the tide, as the moon is much closer to Earth. Tides are typically bigger and higher when the moon is at perigee than when it is not.

Major Meteor Showers in 2016

Meteor showers occur when the Earth passes through the debris left over by comet tails or other object that orbit the Sun. Meteors appear as flashes of light and are sometimes called “shooting or falling stars” even though they really are not stars at all. Viewing meteors is best with the unaided eye on a moonless night at a dark location.
 

Name

Peak Date*

Zenith Hourly Rate**

Quadrantids

January 3rd

120

Lyrids

April 21st

20

Eta Aquarids

May 4th

60

Delta Aquarids

July 27th

20

Persieds

August 12th

90

Orionids

October 20th

20

South Taurids

November 4th

10

North Taurids

November 11th

15

Geminids

December 13th

120

Ursids

December 21st

10

 
*While meteor showers will peak on specific dates, the meteors of those showers are still visible for the days prior to and following the peak date.

**The Zenith Hourly Rate (ZHR) of a meteor shower is the number of meteors an observer could expect to see in an hour at peak activity.

Planetary Events

 
A conjunction is when celestial objects appear to be very close together (within a few degrees) in our sky.
 
A planet will frequently conjunct with celestial objects as well as other planets. Ancient astronomers attached a good deal of significance to these events. Today, while they are not as important to astronomers, they still appear to be very pretty in our sky.

 
Opposition is when an outer planet (Mars, Jupiter, Saturn etc.) is on the opposite side of the sun in our sky.
 
At this time the Earth is as physically close to the planet as Earth can get. Sometimes the planet will appear to be slightly brighter at that time.

 
Greatest Eastern/Western Elongation describes when either Mercury or Venus is at its highest point in either the Eastern (early morning) sky or Western (early evening) sky.
 

Date

Event

January 8th

Venus-Saturn Conjunction

February 6th

Mercury Greatest Eastern Elongation

February 12th

Mercury-Venus Conjunction

March 7th

Jupiter Opposition

April 18th

Mercury Greatest Western Elongation

April 27th

Mars-Antares (Bright red star in Scorpius) Conjunction

May 22nd

Mars Opposition

June 2nd

Saturn Opposition

June 4th                                                     

Mercury Greatest Eastern Elongation

August 16th

Mercury Greatest Western Elongation

August 23rd

Mars-Antares (Bright red star in Scorpius) Conjunction

August 24th

Mars-Saturn Conjunction

August 27th

Venus-Jupiter Conjunction

September 2nd

Neptune Opposition

October 15th

Uranus Opposition

December 10th

Mercury Greatest Western Elongation

 
Figure illustrating what is happening during Oppositions and Greatest Eastern/Western Elongation:
 

View 2017 Observational Highlights