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    April 2018
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Transit of Venus – Hawaii Viewing Information

On the afternoon and evening of June 5, people in Hawai‘i will have the rare opportunity to view the planet Venus cross the disk of the sun. This is the last time this will happen in our lifetimes: The next transit of Venus will occur in 2117.

Hawai‘i and Alaska are the only places in the United States where this event can be viewed in its entirety. In the contiguous 48 states, the sun will set before the transit is over. In Honolulu, the transit will begin at 12:10 p.m. and end at 6:45 p.m. Because Hawai‘i is one of the best places to view this happening, it is attracting many visitors to our state.

FREE solar viewers are available at the IfA Mānoa reception desk through June 4 weekdays from 8 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. There is a limit of two per person (at least 16 years old). These solar viewers are made available by our generous donors. Please support us at https://www.uhfoundation.org/IfA_TransitofVenus.

Never look directly at the sun without proper eye protection. Sunglasses do not provide enough protection. You can find more safety information here.

Printable information sheet (3.9 MB) – Available in English and Japanese.


IfA will distribute free solar viewers that will allow individuals to look at the sun safely at each IfA sponsored event. While supplies last.

IfA Events, noon to sunset

  • Waikīkī Beach
  • Pacific Aviation Museum
  • Ko Olina
  • IfA Mānoa

Waikīkī Beach

The Waikiki Beach viewing site will be at the Sunset on the Beach location toward the Diamond Head end of Kalakaua Avenue, where there will be screens showing webcasts of the transit as viewed from Mauna Kea and Haleakala. There will also be other science and technology activities for children and adults.

Pacific Aviation Museum

The Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor is located on Ford Island. While the museum usually charges an admission fee, viewing the transit of Venus and related activities will be free, and the museum will stay open until dusk. The museum will offer a special discounted admission price of $8 per person. In addition to viewing the transit, those who come to this venue will be able to see a show in the IfA’s StarLab planetarium and a robotics display, and there will be other demonstrations and activities for children and adults.

Since the museum is located on an active military base, you must have military or Department of Defense identification, or you must make a reservation by providing the vehicle year, make, model, and license plate number of your car, and a government-issued ID number for each adult in the vehicle in an email to SpecialEvents@pacificaviationmuseum.org or by calling the museum at (808) 441-1007. A third alternative is to buy a ticket to the museum at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center and take the free shuttle bus to the museum.

Ko Olina

The public is also invited to view the transit at Ko Olina Resort near Lagoon 4. Assisting IfA personnel there will be Greg McCartney and Stars Above Hawaii as well as amateur astronomers. There will be robotics, swimming in the lagoon, and other activities, all free.

IfA Mānoa

Weather permitting, there will also be a small viewing station on the lawn of Institute for Astronomy, 2680 Woodlawn Drive in Mānoa.

Institute for Astronomy Frontiers of Astronomy Community Event: Talking Transit: The Sun-Venus-Earth Connection: A panel discussion about the upcoming transit of Venus. Dr. Paul Coleman will speak about Hawaii’s historical role in research using the 1874 transit of Venus, Dr. Shadia Habbal will speak about the Sun and its connection to Venus and Earth, Dr. Peter Mouginis-Mark will talk about Venus itself, and Dr. Roy Gal will speak about the transit on June 5. Wednesday, May 30, 7:30 p.m. in the Art Building Auditorium (room 132), UH Mānoa. Free. Campus parking $6.


The Bishop Museum will have a transit of Venus festival on that day with safe viewing opportunities. The Bishop Museum is normally closed on Tuesdays, but on June 5 the Museum and all its regular exhibit halls will be open from 9 am to 5 pm. Members of the Hawaiian Astronomical Society will be on hand from noon to 5 pm to show the transit in their telescopes.

On Hawai‘i Island, there will be telescope viewing at the Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station. You will find information here. ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center in Hilo is also planning some activities related to the transit, including having NASA webcast of the transit playing in their lobby and telescope viewing on their lawn (weather permitting) free of charge. Go to their website (imiloahawaii.org) for the full schedule and the latest updates.

Historical Significance

Custom solar viewers. Artwork: Karen Teramura/IfA. Higher-resolution (106.7 KB)

In Hawai‘i, this event has a special historical significance, for it echoes a transit of Venus that occurred during the reign of King David Kalākaua. On December 8, 1874, a British expedition made the first scientific astronomical observations in Hawai‘i by observing the transit from a site near the corner of Punchbowl and Queen Streets in Honolulu, as well as from locations in Waimea on Kaua‘i and Kailua-Kona on Hawai‘i. They observed the transit to gather data that would be used to determine the precise distance between Earth and the sun, and thereby, to measure the size of the solar system. More information about the 1874 transit expedition in Hawai‘i can be found here.

More Information


There is also a live webcast from the summit of Mauna Kea: http://keckobservatory.org/news/venus_transit_live_keck_observatory

The website transitofvenus.org is a good place for general information about this event.

NASA has pictures of the previous transit of Venus (2004). NASA also has a page for the 2012 transit.

The Hubble Space Telescope will use the Moon as a mirror to see the Venus transit because Hubble cannot look directly at the Sun. Hubble will be studying Venus’ atmosphere. More

See NASA Edge YouTube video about a webcast of the transit. The transit will be webcast live at http://sunearthday.nasa.gov/.

John Philip Sousa composed the “Transit of Venus March” in 1883. Lost for many years, it was rediscovered in 2003. Click here for the full story and to listen to it.

A workshop entitled “Transiting Planets in the House of the Sun: A Workshop on M Dwarf Stars and Their Planets” will be held at IfA Maui on June 3-6. Intended for advanced graduate students and junior postdocs studying extrasolar planets, it was intentionally scheduled to coincide with the the transit of Venus.

The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo will be offering an undergraduate observational astronomy course to coincide with the transit of Venus. More information is available on the web or by contacting hokukea@hawaii.edu.

While some websites may say that the transit will occur on June 6, be assured that in Hawai‘i it will occur on June 5. It depends on which side of the international dateline you are on.

Video – Understanding the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT)

Near the center of Pasadena, California, a team of scientists, engineers, and project specialists is busily planning and designing what eventually will become the most advanced and powerful optical telescope on Earth. When completed later this decade, the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) will enable astronomers to study objects in our own solar system and stars throughout our Milky Way and its neighboring galaxies, and forming galaxies at the very edge of the observable Universe, near the beginning of time.

A 30-meter telescope, operating in wavelengths ranging from the ultraviolet to the mid-infrared, is an essential tool to address questions in astronomy ranging from understanding star and planet formation to unraveling the history of galaxies and the development of large-scale structure in the universe.


New Sketches of Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) Released

Media Release:

Following the successful conclusion of the Thirty Meter Telescope’s Environmental Impact Statement and Final Design Review of the observatory enclosure, TMT worked with acclaimed science animator and producer Dana Berry on a new, more accurate set of renderings of the observatory and its support building as they will appear on Mauna Kea.

Top View of TMT Complex

These renderings accurately portray the observatory with a reflective dome. This aluminized coating was selected to help the observatory maintain a constant temperature and to blend in with the surrounding environment. The dome will reflect the color of the local lava field during the warmer months and will appear white when snow covers the top of the mountain.

The new images also demonstrate how the support building and access road will utilize native rock and colors to better match the local environment.

Side View of TMT Complex

The telescope will be sited on the northern plateau of Mauna Kea at a location known as 13 North within Area E. This section of the mountain, which was identified as the preferred site for a next-generation optical observatory in the 2000 Mauna Kea Reserve Master Plan, is below the summit and its predominant geologic feature is a basalt lava flow. This particular rock has weathered to a reddish hue, which influenced the exterior appearance and color choices of the observatory.

Telescope Man Scopes Me Out!

Over a year ago I was on Oahu and I posted a short post on my blog from my phone entitled  “A Waikiki View” where I joked:

I’ve seen everything… so I thought!  Here is a street vendor soliciting views of Jupiter through a telescope… and people are bucking up!

Well it turns out this guy is actually doing this to raise funds for college and he has a website set up and all.

He found my blog posting some how and left this comment:

Thanks for blogging about my telescope.
It’s a lot of fun, and helps pay the bills while I’m in college.

I actually dig this type of “Street Performers” as they actually provide a service other then a comedic relief.  Many of the street performers are straight kooky but this guy seems pretty cool!

On his biography about him he writes:

Hi, This is Carey Johnson a.k.a The Telescope Guy. I got my start in Waikiki amongst other “street performers” such as The Silver Guy, and The Basketball Guy.

I have been interested in photography since just before I joined the Navy back in 1986. I used to try to photograph the Full Moon rising over some body of water or landmark…

So check out his website QuarkCSJ where you can read more about him.

*Update* here’s a quick youtube video of  him on Waikiki Beach.


Newly Discovered Planet May Have Water on Its Surface

Press Release:

A team of astronomers that includes the University of Hawaii’s Nader Haghighipour has announced the discovery of a planet that could have liquid water on its surface.

This artist's conception shows the inner four planets of the Gliese 581 system and their host star, a red dwarf star only 20 light-years away from Earth. The large planet in the foreground is the newly discovered GJ 581g, an Earth-size planet that orbits in the star's habitable zone. Artwork by Lynette Cook.

The planet, which is probably 30 percent larger than Earth, was discovered using one of the telescopes of the W. M. Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea. It orbits a relatively small star, Gliese 581, that is 20 light-years from Earth in the constellation Libra.

“By determining the orbit of this planet, we can deduce that its surface temperature is similar to that of Earth,” said Haghighipour. This means that at least some of any water on the surface of the planet and in its atmosphere will be in liquid form rather than ice or vapor. The discovery of liquid water in space is an important step in the search for extraterrestrial life.

The team estimates that the new planet, called Gliese 581g, has a mass three to four times that of Earth, and orbits its star in just under 37 Earth days. Its mass indicates that it is probably a rocky planet with enough gravity to hold on to its atmosphere. It is one of six known planets orbiting the star.

To discover the planet, the team looked for the tiny changes in the star’s velocity that arise from the gravitational tugs of its planets. They used 238 separate observations of Gliese 581 taken over a period of 11 years.

Haghighipour said that the team is keeping tabs on many nearby stars using the Keck Observatory. “As we collect more and more data about how these stars are moving, we expect to find many more planets with potentially Earth-like conditions,” he said. He noted that to learn more about the conditions on these planets would take even bigger telescopes, such at the Thirty Meter Telescope planned for Mauna Kea.

The team that made the discovery is led by Steven Vogt of the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) and Paul Butler of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. Other team members include UCSC associate research scientist Eugenio Rivera, and Gregory Henry and Michael Williamson of Tennessee State University.

This research was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the NASA Astrobiology Institute.