Monthly Sky Charts for Hawaiʻi

Click image to enlarge.

Click image to enlarge.

September 2019 Skywatch

In the last issue of SkyWatch we discussed the Star Family Manaiakalani, The Chiefly Fishing Line, and what can be found in the northeastern quadrant of those line of stars. The Summer Triangle which is comprised of Keoe, Vega in the constellation Lyra the Harp; Piraeteʻa, Deneb in the constellation Cygnus the Swan; and Humu, Altair in the constellation, Aquilae the Eagle, occupy the northeastern quadrant of that star family. This trio of stars represent a spool of fishing line coiled at the bottom of a canoe that leads to the southeast quadrant and is attached to the top of Kamakaunuiamāui, Mauiʻs Fishhook, also known as the constellation Scorpius.

It is not hard to imagine why Polynesians thought that this constellation resembled a fish hook or why Babylonians and Greeks thought that it resembled a scorpion. Center of Kamakaunuiamāui is Lehuakona, Antares, the heart of the fishhook, a red supergiant irregular variable star. It is the fifteenth brightest star in the night sky, and, if placed within our solar system, it would stretch between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. In wayfinding, the three stars right after the curve of the fish hook, where the bait would be attached are meridian pointers, meaning that they pass through the celestial meridian fairly close to each other. Meridian pointers are used to identify the celestial poles;, in this case these three stars would point towards the direction of the south celestial pole.

Evening Observations

Jupiter and Saturn will both be prominent in the early evening sky. Jupiter will stand out in the early evening as one of the brightest objects in the sky while Saturn will be much fainter and to the east of Jupiter. These two planets are the largest planets in our solar system. Through a good telescope we will be able to see Jupiter’s four largest moons: Ganymede, Callisto, Io and Europa. These large moons are often referred to as the Galilean Moons as they were first discovered by Galileo Galilei in 1610, using a telescope as powerful as a pair of modern day binoculars. These moons are some of the largest moons in the solar system and continue to intrigue astronomers here in Hawai‘i.