Message from Lisa Wells:

Aloha! This month is focused on the sun and its effects on earth. There has been much in the news about the aurora borealis, and while they are difficult to view from Hawaii (except on very rare ocassions), they are quite beautiful. Also, Comet ISON is getting brighter and will be visible in the morning sky for the next few weeks. Enjoy!

We are grateful for your feedback and support of our venture. Feel free to send an email.


CFHT Community Outreach

Recent Past Events

September, 2013: The Solar System Walk which is usually held around the start of the school year was cancelled. We hope to do this next year.

October 4th, 2013: There was a tour of Mauna Kea Observatories for participants in the ADASS meeting held at the Marriott Hotel in Waikoloa.

November 8th, 2013: The Country School in Waimea had their science fair from 8am to 11am. Scientists from CFHT went to talk with the students and give them feedback on their projects.

Does Toothpaste Save Teeth? A student shows a video of her project Jim gets the recipe for ooey gooey floam Scientists spoke with each student from the 4th and 5th grades A student used time lapse video to study the effects of dye on flowers Students from the lower grades did group investigations

Upcoming Events

November 14th, 2013: Staff from CFHT will be attending the GEMS - Girls Exploring Math, and Science workshop held in Keauhou. This event is for any 5th grade girl who resides in the West Hawaii School Complex Area. There is a registration fee.

November 19th, 2013: There will be a Galaxy Forum Hawaii - Advancing Galaxy 21st Century Education and ILOA HQ in Waimea. This will be held at Waimea Community Education, 65-1184 Mamalahoa Highway, Kamuela HI, USA, from 5-7pm. This is a free public event, but seating is limited. RSVP to or 808.885.3474 if you plan to attend.

November 25th, 2013: CFHT was to host the Hungarian Google Lunar X-Prize Team, Puli Space. They were going to visit the island on invitation from PISCES and UH Hilo. This event has been cancelled due to technical difficulties. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused. If possible we will try to get them to attend our annual Star Party set for December 7th if they come to Hawaii.

December 7th, 2013: CFHT will have its annual Star Party after the Christmas parade in Kamuela. It will be held at our offices in Kamuela. Come by for refreshments, science activities, "Ask an Astronomer", and star gazing on the front lawn (weather permitting).

January 25th, 2014: This is Ellison Onizuka Science Day at the University of Hawaii in Hilo. This event honors Ellison S. Onizuka who died on the Space Shuttle Challenger on January 24th, 1985. The event runs from 8am to 3:15pm and is a fun day of science learning for students in grades 4-12. Check the website below for more information and registration in early January.

Onizuka Science Day

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Astronaut Scott Carpenter Dies at 88 years old

This year we lost another of the original Mercury 7 astronauts. Scott Carpenter was a naval aviator turned astronaut, turned aquanaut. He was the third American to go into space, and the second to orbit the earth.

Scott Carpenter's NASA Biography

Scott Carpenter 2nd American to Orbit Earth

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Coronal Heating

The hot corona around our sun has been a mystery since 1939. Scientists have not been able to understand the process until now. New observations have been taken which may well explain the hot corona around our nearest star.

Coronal Heating

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Largest Known Star in the Milky Way Galaxy

A star has been discovered which is 1500 times the size of our sun. This very massive star is old, bright and highly evolved. Observations from the European Southern Observatory are discovering interesting things about this star.

The Largest Known Star in the Milky Way Galaxy

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The 11 Year Solar Cycle

The increase in solar activity indicates that we are close to the "solar max," as scientists call it, of the 11 year solar cycle. During this time the sun's magnetic field switches direction. We know this because the polarity of the sunspots change. The peak has been unusually quiet though there has been some spectacular northern lights produced.

The 11 Year Solar Cycle

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Aurora Borealis

Many people have been reporting seeing aurora in the northern part of the US over the past year. Below are some great sites that explain how they are formed and show videos taken 3 years ago. There was a major solar storm in 1859 which was known as the Carrington Event. This event was seen in the Caribbean. It was bright enough to wake up gold miners in the Rocky Mountains of the US. This event was also visible from Hawaii and Cuba. Extreme events however are exceedingly rare, occuring once every 500 years.

How Does the Aurora Borealis Work?

Canadian Magazine of Astronomy and Stargazing - Aurora Watch

Video Montage of the Aurora Borealis

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Comet ISON

Comet ISON was discovered in September 2012 by two Russian amateur astronomers. It is currently streaking through the constellation Virgo low in the eastern sky in the morning. It is around 7-8th magnitude just barely visible to the naked eye though reports show it has brightened considerably during the 2nd week of November. Using binoculars, one would see a fuzzy star with a tail. It will be getting brighter as it approaches the sun so keep an eye on this object in the morning sky just before morning twilight begins.

Comet ISON

Comet ISON

Comet ISON November Finder

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Upcoming Astronomical Events
  1. Meteor Showers -
    • We have the Leonid meteor shower peaking on November 17th in the early morning hours. Predictions are for 20 per hour and the moon will be close to full so viewing will be hampered by its brightness. Best to find a dark site, and watch toward the constellation Leo.
    • The Geminid meteor shower will be peaking on the morning of December 14th and predictions are good for ~120 per hour. The moon will be bright in the evening sky, but setting in the morning for a few good hours of dark sky. Gemini is a prominent constellation.
    • The Quadrantids will be peaking on January 3rd and the moon will be just after new so a thin sliver in the evening sky. Look to the constellation Bootes. Last year's prediction holds for this year, 120 per hour. This will be another good year.
    All these meteor showers are best viewed from midnight to sunrise. Meteors should be visible for 1-3 days either side of the peak also. For more about watching meteor showers, check out the site for The American Meteor Society.
  2. Comets - Here is a great website about a possible spectacular event for later this year. Check out the article and sites above. Comet ISON video. There are several challenging objects to find in the sky so check out updates at the Sky Hound site: Comet Chasing. Look for a new object 2012 S1 (ISON) to put on a show as it brightening as it approaches the sun. You may need binoculars or a small telescope to see the faintest of these objects.
  3. Planets - Mercury will be at its greatest elongation from the sun on November 17th and comet ISON will be very near it this morning so look for them just below Spica in Virgo. Jupiter will be 5 degrees from the moon in the evening of November 21st. Look for Mercury and Saturn to be very close together in the morning sky on November 25th. Both Saturn and Mercury will be close to the moon on the morning of December 1st. Venus will be its brightest on the morning of December 6th. Jupiter will be close to the moon in the evening of December 18th. Look for Jupiter to be 5 degrees from the moon in the evening of January 14th. On the morning of January 25th, Saturn will be close to the Moon. On January 28th in the morning, Venus will be close to the Moon. Look for Zodiacal light in the evening twilight during the last 2 weeks of February.
  4. Solstice - The winter solstice will occur on December 21st at 7:11 am.

All times listed above are HST unless otherwise indicated. The link below contains many calendars and includes a nice section on astronomical events. Check it out!


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We gratefully acknowledge the following online sources: Google Search Engine, and the Science Daily.
This page is compiled by Lisa Wells, CFHT Remote Observer
This page is designed by Tito Jankowski, maintained by Lisa Wells, CFHT Remote Observer