Wednesday, July 31, 2013

August, 2013 - Meteor Shower on The Big Island of Hawaii - Perseids to Dazzle!

‘Tis summer and the season for The Perseids, the Northern Hemisphere’s most anticipated annual celestial event!

August 9 - 13, 2013 are the peak viewing nights this year. 

A waxing crescent moon will set early in the evening for stargazers to be gifted with an indigo black sky as backdrop for approximately 80-100 meteors per minute! Combine that star power with the world-class stargazing skies of Hawaii, and The Perseids are a "must see" while on vacation this summer on The Big Island.

Perseids translates from ancient Greek as “Sons of Perseus”.  The shower, which has been viewed on Earth for at least 2000 years, radiates from the constellation Perseus, thus the name. The Perseids are fiery particles of dust shed from the Comet Swift-Tuttle as they flash like sparklers across the sky.

Pointers for viewing the Meteor Shower: 

- Pick your viewing spot in advance. We recommend poolside at Holualoa Inn if skies are clear! 

- Find the constellation Perseus (NE direction) on a star map in advance 
 2013 Perseid Meteor Shower-Star Map

- No telescope required! Just set your alarm and head to your spot - lie prone for an open view to the sky.

- Plan an early night, as the best viewing times are the 4 hours preceding twilight;
approximately Midnight to 4:00 AM.

- Allow time for your eyes to adjust to the night sky-approximately 15 minutes.

For an unforgettable adventure and a singular stargazing experience, a trip up to the Mauna Kea Observatory &Vistor Center is a must during vacation. 

The Visitor center offers a nightly Stargazing Program, 6-10 pm, with guides available to assist in constellation and planet identification. Although the center closes before the Perseids begin their show, you may catch the beginning on your drive down! 

At 9,000 ft., The Onizuka Center for International Astronomy houses some of the world’s most powerful telescopes.  

Please note the trip up the mountain to high elevation is along a remote road and the journey requires planning.  This trip is not recommended for young children or adults with medical issues. Please see the Visitor Center site for details or ask one of the Innkeepers at Holualoa Inn for assistance.

For a complete star gazing experience, visit Mauna Kea Observatory the first night and enjoy an evening of meteor showers at Holualoa Inn the next!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Hawaiian Honu-Symbol of Wisdom and Good Luck

When snorkeling at Kua Bay on the Big Island of Hawaii, or hiking the coastal trails at Kaloko–Honokohao National Historical Park north of Kona, you will likely be graced by the presence of the Hawaiian Honu, or Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas). When hypnotized by their sleepy doe-eyes, take note.  You are looking back 150 million years in time into the lens of a reptilian survivor from the age of dinosaurs.

The Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle is the only indigenous reptile found in Hawaii, but for Hawaiians, the Honu is a symbol of good luck in the form of a guardian spirit, or Amakua. The Honu pattern is depicted in ancient petroglyphs as well as in modern graphic form. For Hawaiians then and now, the Honu represents the navigator, and the eternal link between man, the land and the sea.  One Hawaiian legend tells of a large Honu, Kailua, who would transform into a human girl and served as protector of the Keiki (children) playing along the shore of Punalu'u Beach.

Since listed as a “threatened” species in 1978, the Green Sea Turtle population has made a comeback. Before protection, their decline in numbers came primarily from over fishing. Today the fishing has nearly ceased,  but from the moment the eggs are laid, the baby Honu must survive predation by birds,  animals and the affect of environmental hazards. If they make it to the sea, the dangers are still abundant;  sharks, marine debris,  tainted algae,  and propellers.  

After 25 years of basking on lava, floating along coastal tidepools, and munching on their diet of algae or Limu,  the Honu reaches maturity at about 200 pounds. The Honu then begin the arduous, 800 mile journey to the North Western Hawaiian Islands to mate.  If they survive this migration, Honu may live up to 100 years , however their exact lifespan is unknown.

To swim with a turtle is magic. To watch them bask in the sun is calming.  During your encounters, kindly remember to keep your distance so the Honu remain undisturbed. Enjoy the gentle grace of the Honu who have inhabited this place long before humans. At Holualoa Inn, our Innkeepers will point out prime viewing spots around the Island, depending on your days’ excursion.  Just ask!