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    Awesome Night with Ron Ghosh, Space Scientist

    Aloha Light Lovers!
    Thank you to those who made it to last night’s gathering on Haleakala and a HUGE THANK YOU to Dr. Ghosh!…….we experienced so much magic…..I don’t know where to begin!
    This was one of the BEST gatherings the Maui Astronomy Club has experienced!
    First when we arrived to watch sunset, we saw the BROCKEN SPECTRE…..a rainbow around our shadow cast into the clouds of the crater!!!!
     It was amazing!
    Wikipedia: A Brocken spectre (German Brockengespenst), also called Brocken bow or mountain spectre, is the apparently enormous and magnified shadow of an observer, cast upon the upper surfaces of clouds opposite the sun. The phenomenon can appear on any misty mountainside or cloud bank, even when seen from an aeroplane, but the frequent fogs and low-altitude accessibility of the Brocken, a peak in the Harz Mountains in Germany, have created a local legend from which the phenomenon draws its name. The Brocken spectre was observed and described by Johann Silberschlag in 1780, and has since been recorded often in literature about the region.
    Then we saw a QUADRUPLE RAINBOW….like the one in this photo!!!   I was screaming with joy!! I had never in my 25 years on Maui seen a quadruple!PastedGraphic-2PastedGraphic-2
    After all our excitement with the rainbows we met the equally exciting space scientist, DR. RON GHOSH!  (in the ball cap)
    Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 2.46.55 PM
    Wow, Ron is incredible!  We were hanging on every word and could talk with him all night!
    Ron has over 40 years of space experience….he has worked with NASA on many missions,  the Cassini Mission to Saturn to name a few.
    The Messenger Mission to Mercury was also one of Ron’s projects and we learned quite a bit about the secrets of Mercury.
    Ron also supervised the New Horizons Mission to Pluto and was telling us how Pluto’s atmosphere reaches all the way to it’s largest moon, Charon!
    We must have Dr. Ghosh back!  He is fascinating and such an eloquent speaker.
    He’s worked on many other projects including his latest project, Solar Probe Plus mission which will launch in 2018:  it will study the streams of charged particles the Sun hurls into space from an unprecedented vantage point: inside the Sun’s corona – its outer atmosphere – where the processes that heat the corona and produce solar wind occur. At closest approach, Solar Probe would zip past the Sun at 125 miles per second, protected by a carbon-composite heat shield that must withstand up to 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit and survive blasts of radiation and energized dust at levels not experienced by any previous spacecraft.  See more about the mission here:
    During our time stargazing, we saw 2 unidentifiable flying objects (UFOs)  Even Dr. Ghosh was uncertain what they were!
    They were brighter than any star…the brighter one was probably -2 mag. and the other about -1 mag.
    They appeared parallel to each other in the SE part of the sky at about 25 degrees up and did not move like “normal” satellites.
    They seemed stationary and faded after a minute or so.  My husband thinks they were Russian rocket bodies but he can’t confirm it.
    Very cool.  It looked similar to the photo below.j2Lbhk1
    After almost everyone left, a huge fog bank rolled over us and created a DOUBLE MOON BOW!!!! (similar to photo below but a DOUBLE!)
    I couldn’t believe all the magic that happened in just 3 hours!!!!
    Can’t wait to do it again.

    THANKS AGAIN and hope to see you all again next month!

    Becky Sydney
    Maui Astronomy Club

    Astro Talk Friday 9.25.15


    Aloha all,

    We will be holding a public talk this Friday September 25th at 6:30 pm at the Maui IfA in Pukalani (below Longs Drug Store). 
    Our own Sifan Kahale will be talking about ” Pan-STARRS Operations Using Avatars In The Virtual World”.

    “I will spend an enjoyable hour “exposing” the other half of our audience that attends our public talks:  the avatars in the virtual worlds like Second Life.  Also, using virtual models of the Pan-STARRS observatories, I will go through the process of preparing our observatories for nightly operations and demonstrate how we find asteroids and near-Earth objects (NEOs).”

    For more information please email me or go to:

    Live streaming will be available at:


    Dr. J. D. Armstrong
    University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy
    34 Ohia Ku Street
    Pukalani, HI 96768

    Farthest Galaxy Detected

    Here’s some cool news from…..

    A team of Caltech researchers that has spent years searching for the earliest objects in the universe now reports the detection of what may be the most distant galaxy ever found. In an article published August 28, 2015 in Astrophysical Journal Letters, Adi Zitrin, a NASA Hubble Postdoctoral Scholar in Astronomy, and Richard Ellis – who recently retired after 15 years on the Caltech faculty and is now a professor of astrophysics at University College, London – describe evidence for a galaxy called EGS8p7 that is more than 13.2 billion years old. The universe itself is about 13.8 billion years old.

    Read entire article:

    Astro Talk Tonight! 8/28/15


    Aloha All,

    Apologies for the short notice.  We will be holding an astronomy public talk this Friday August 28th at 6:30 pm.  I will be giving a talk entitled, “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, How Do We Know What You Are?”  The talk will be held at the Maui Institute for Astronomy.

    “How we know something is perhaps as important as what we know. We know that stars are distant objects similar to the sun. How do we know that? In this talk you will take a journey to the stars. We will pay particular attention to the way we get there.”

    For more information please email me or go to:

    Hope to see you there.

    Dr. J. D. Armstrong
    University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy
    34 Ohia Ku Street
    Pukalani, HI 96768

    Snow in Hawaii…in JULY!!


    Maui has had record breaking temperatures as of late, which is why snow on the Big Island is a complete shock to me.

    Last night I was on Haleakala with a tour of folks who wanted to see the Milky Way.

    We had 35mph winds and clouds that were like waves pounding over us.

    Around 9:15pm it started raining.  On the Big Island, it started snowing!



    Favorite “Planet” Revealed

    Aloha Pluto Pals!


    PLUTO IS NOT ALONE: New Horizons is now less than 4 days from Pluto. For years, the “dwarf” planet has been little more than a fuzzy blob in the eyepieces of distant telescopes. Not even the Hubble Space Telescope could see it clearly. Those days are over. On July 7th, New Horizons snapped this image of Pluto and its biggest moon Charon from a distance of only 5 million miles:

    Neither Pluto nor Charon is a “fuzzy blob.” Moreover, the crisp images reveal many interesting differences: The reddish materials that color Pluto seem to be completely absent on Charon. On Charon, only a dark polar region interrupts the light gray terrain. 

    “These two objects have been together for billions of years, in the same orbit, but they are totally different,” says Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado. Stern is the principal investigator for the New Horizons mission.

    Charon is about 750 miles (1200 kilometers) across, about half the diameter of Pluto—making it the solar system’s largest moon relative to its planet. “Charon is now emerging as its own world,” adds John Spencer, another member of the science team at the SwRI. “Its personality is beginning to really reveal itself.” 

    On July 14th, when New Horizons makes its closest approach to the Pluto-Charon system, the images it beams back will have 500 times better resolution than we see today. Stay tuned!

    Here is a Hubble Image of Pluto and it’s 5 moons!!!
    Becky Sydney
    Maui Astronomy Club

    Maui Astronomy Tours now available!

    Becky Sydney, president of the Maui Astronomy Club, has recently started a new business; MAUI ASTRONOMY TOURS.   (808) 868-6020

    Tell your friends and spread the word.  Becky will meet you for an awesome sunset on Haleakala Volcano and then use a deep space telescope when the star pop out. She provides heavy coats, gloves, hats, blankets, and face cover.  Organic snacks and water are also included.  See the stars like you’ve never seen!  It’s magical.

    Haleakala is one of the best places in the world to see the stars.  The Milky Way is so bright you can read a book! With 300 clear nights per year, Hawaii is the only state in the USA that can see more than 80% of all stars in the sky AND see the Southern Cross (Springtime), Alpha Centauri (Springtime) and watch the Big Dipper dip beneath the horizon.  Amazing.

    Free Public Talk June 26, 2015

    Aloha all!  Mark your calendar.

    It is JD Armstrong’s pleasure to let you know about this month’s Maui Astronomy FREE Public Talk. 

    It will be on Friday June 26th, at 6:30 pm at the Maui Institute for Astronomy in Pukalani (below Longs Drug Store)
    Dr. Gary Greenberg will be talking about
    “The Art & History of the Microscope”.
    Dr. Gary Greenberg
    In the year 1600, the existence of a microscopic world was utterly unimaginable.  A few years later, Robert Hooke published his famous book, “Micrographia: Or Some Physiological Descriptions of Minute Bodies made by Magnifying Glasses with Observations and Inquires Thereupon”. This was the world’s first best seller, and it revealed for the first time the hidden world that exists beyond our everyday perception. Since its invention, visionaries have used microscopes to save lives and reduce human suffering. Today, microscopes can image individual molecules and atoms, and have spawned the burgeoning field of nanotechnology.

    The Maui Institute for Astronomy is at 34 Ohia Ku Street in Pukalani. 
    It is the big green building between the upcountry Longs and Kemehameha Schools.  
    We hope to see you there, but if you can’t make it and would like to watch the talk live, we will have streaming video at:

    Please feel free to email JD with any questions.
    Dr. J. D. Armstrong
    University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy
    34 Ohia Ku Street
    Pukalani, HI 96768

    Becky Sydney
    Maui Astronomy Club

    Romancing the Stars

    Aloha Star Lovers!

    You know in romantic movies where they show a man and woman running towards each other in slow motion?

    Eventually to embrace after much anticipation?
    Well…. this is the drama happening in the night sky after sunset!
    Look west and see Venus the goddess of Love and Beauty and Jupiter the King of the gods blazing through the twilight as the first “stars” that pop out after sunset.
    Venus is the brighter of the two and Jupiter sits above her…..reaching for her warm embrace.  Look how Venus is dazzling with rays….she really looks like a star!
    Watch in the next coming nights as Venus and Jupiter appear to travel towards each other night by night…..slowly closing the gap between them.
    On June 19,  behold the Magic Triangle….Venus, the crescent Moon and Jupiter forming a triangle in the west.
    file file
    Then, the big event, June 30 when Venus and Jupiter kiss!  It will be a beautiful sight to behold!  Mark your calendars.

    Venus in a Star Trap

    Aloha and Happy May Day and Lei Day!

    The heavens sure are celebrating.

    Check out the western sky tonight and the coming week.
    It’s going to be crazy busy! 
    The brightest stars in the sky, Aldebaran, Rigel, Betelgeuse, Sirius, Castor, Pollux, Capella, etc will act like a web of stars with Super Bright Venus captured inside.
    And watch little messenger Mercury …..he will quickly rise into the star web to make things more interesting.
    NOTE: Very few people ever see Mercury with the naked eye since its presence is quick, short and low in the sky. (see article below)
    FULL MOON PARTY: If you love the Full Moon, be sure to come to Fleetwoods on Front Street Saturday, May 2, 2015, from 7pm – 10pm.
    I will be there with my scope showing everyone the magic of the Moon.  I’m set up from 8pm -10pm.  There’s food, music and dancing.
    Mercury climbs quickly into view after sunset in early May as it hits the peak of its best evening appearance of 2015. The innermost planet orbits the Sun a bit like a moth drawn to a streetlight. The Sun’s glare hides Mercury much of the time, but at regular intervals, the world soars far enough from our star to show up just after sunset or before sunrise. This year, Mercury comes into view on evenings in January, May, September, and December; it appears before dawn in February, June, and October.
    MercuryfinderchartRead full article: