Current Events

Lāhainā Noon Challenge

This year PUEO is hosting the first annual #LāhaināNoonChallenge.  For this challenge, we want you all to film and document this tropics-only phenomena as it takes place in each of your locations! Post your videos or pictures on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and make sure to tag us and use the hashtag #LāhaināNoonChallenge. The goal of this challenge is to document this special day and better understand the seasonal nature of the Sun’s journey here in our island state Lāhainā noon marks the day when the Sun becomes our zenith star, so no shadows are cast when it reaches zenith (the point directly overhead).  Over the next few days/weeks: #getoutdoors and observe the shadows each day around noon and try to observe this phenomenon for yourself!  Latitude determines when youʻll experience lāhainā noon. Since the Sun is currently progressing north in its journey, the first location that will experience this event is #SouthPoint, Hawaiʻi Island on Friday, May 14th. One of the last places in the island chain to experience the first of the lāhainā noon pairs will be Lihuʻe, Kauaʻi on May 30th.  Then the cycle will reverse, and Lihuʻe, Kauaʻi will experience its second lāhainā noon on July 14th, and South Point, Hawaiʻi will experience the last lāhainā Noon event in the state on July 27th.  For a more detailed list of lāhainā noon locations and dates, check out this wonderful resource from Bishop Museum at The chart below from the Bishop Museum gives the overhead sun dates and times for several locations in 2021: Līhuʻe, Kaua‘i, 22o NMay 30, 12:35 p.m.July 11, 12:43 p.m.Haleʻiwa, O‘ahu,... read more

PUEO Invited Speaker – Searching for Asteroids from Space

Dr. Joseph Masiero has worked to provide internships for our UH Hilo astronomy students.  Joe is keenly interested in helping our Hawaiʻi students with skills training and getting them placed into astronomy related careers. On Friday, he will be giving a talk about his research and NEOCam.   Just a little preview – he uses space-based observations to detect asteroids, but also works with ground-based observing campaigns to do follow-up characterization of these potentially dangerous, yet insightful objects... read more

News From The Mountain

Stellar student: Hilo native lands job with NASA lab before graduating college

PHOTO — Aaron Roth, left, of Hilo, a senior at Arizona State University where he’s majoring in computer science, is pictured with Jack Andersen and Andrew Hasegawa on Maunakea during a rover test drive as a PISCES intern. By STEPHANIE SALMONS Hawaii Tribune-Herald | Monday, October 29, 2018, 12:05 a.m. Aaron Roth is shooting for the stars. Literally. When the 2015 Waiakea High School graduate earns his diploma from Ariziona State University next spring, the computer science major already has a job lined up — with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. According to its website, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory is the leading U.S. center for robotic exploration of the solar system. It has 19 spacecraft and 10 major instruments carrying out planetary, Earth science and space-based astronomy missions. Roth, who was raised in Hilo, said he has always liked computers, but Waiakea High’s robotics program was a “huge, contributing factor that got me interested in everything.” He did well in robotics and even took first place in an international competition. “Robotics was, like, behind my passion then PISCES got me really into space.” Roth interned for the Pacific International Space Center of Exploration Systems, a state-funded aerospace agency based in Hilo, during the summers of 2016 and 2017, where he worked on a stereoscopic camera system for the Helelani rover. With that work, Roth said he was able to help provide anaglyphs of the things the camera captured and disparity maps, which help better gauge the distance of an object. “Aaron interned with PISCES during two consecutive summers and completed some great work on our analog planetary rover,... read more

Hikianalia and Hokulea Arrived In Tahiti and Coming Home Soon!

The Hikianalia departed Hilo March 26th (shown in photo) with one of PUEO’s founders and Keaukaha Community leader Uncle Pat Kahawaiola’a blessing their departure.  Their goal was to meet up with Hōkūleʻa and bring them some materials for repairs before they had back to Hawaii. They arrived safely in Tahiti following the stars and waves to join up with Hōkūleʻa on their round the world trip to bring them some repair materials and accompany them on the final legs of the voyage back home.  After sailing about 100 miles from Papeete, Tahiti, the canoes arrived at Taputapuatea on the morning of April 25, 2017 following the historic protocol of entering via the sacred pass of Teava Moa.  You can follow Hikianalia’s activities here: and Hokulea’s here The should be back in Hawaii in June! SHARE! Twitter Facebook Reddit Pinterest... read more

Mars Simulation Ends after 1 Year on Mauna Loa

By TOM CALLIS Hawaii Tribune-Herald Six scientists will become the first to complete a yearlong Mars simulation in the United States when they exit a small dome Aug. 28 on Mauna Loa. For nearly 365 days, the crew has seen the outside world only through a small porthole or through the lens of their spacesuits, which they must wear to venture outside. At 8,200 feet above sea level, the landscape mimics Martian soil somewhat, with hardly any vegetation to be found. “They’re doing OK as far as we can tell,” said Kim Binsted, principal investigator for the Hawai‘i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation. The University of Hawaii runs the NASA-funded study. Three other simulations have been held in the dome, located in a former quarry, for four- and eight-month durations. Each scientist works on research projects during their stay and learns how to manage limited resources while avoiding personal conflicts in isolation. Any communication with the outside world is put on a 20-minute delay, the length of time it would take to relay messages to and from the red planet. Binsted said the only longer simulation held was a 520-day mission in Russia that mimicked a trip to Mars. HI-SEAS is more focused on what a crew will do once they get there. The crew will be provided fresh fruit and other food not available during the simulation after they leave the dome. “They are clamoring to get into the ocean,” Binsted said. “I think they will enjoy having a beer as well.” Binsted said HI-SEAS will host two more eight-month simulations, with the next one starting in January.... read more

Maunakea Skies: Future of UH Hilo Astronomy Program Talk Aug 19th

[source] University of Hawai‘i at Hilo astronomy majors will receive more hands-on telescope time than ever before as the result of a recent agreement between the Institute for Astronomy at UH Mānoa and the Department of Physics and Astronomy at UH Hilo. These students have a unique opportunity afforded to few other programs in the country—the opportunity to study the universe in the world’s largest observatories for optical, infrared and submillimeter astronomy on the 13,000-foot-high summit of Maunakea. Dr. Marianne Takamiya, associate professor of astronomy and chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at UH Hilo will present an update on these and other developments in UH Hilo’s astronomy program at ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center’s Maunakea Skies talk on Aug. 19 at 7 p.m. ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center photo. “I will present the latest results of the research of faculty and students in astronomy, how our academic program has developed in the last five years and what we envision for the future,” stated Takamiya. “UH Hilo has unique elements that can make ours a novel astronomy program that produces not only astronomers, but also skilled professionals who are able to work in complex systems.” ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center photo. Takamiya, who is an expert in physical properties of material between stars in distant galaxies, has presented throughout the US, Chile, Japan, South Africa and Europe on research she has accomplished using the Maunakea telescopes while heavily involving undergraduate students. Takamiya is a graduate of Universidad de Chile and the University of Chicago, where she received her doctoral degree in astronomy and astrophysics. She was one of the first Gemini Science Fellows at Gemini North during... read more

Gemini Telescope finds Jupiter Moon Io’s Atmosphere Collapses and Reforms

Gemini observations show that the thin atmosphere of Jupiter’s moon Io undergoes dramatic changes during frequent eclipses with the giant planet. The following press release, issued by the Southwest Research Institute, explains how the dramatic changes in temperature cause the moon’s atmosphere to collapse. Research reveals freezing effects of Jupiter’s shadow on moon’s volcanic gases San Antonio – Aug. 2, 2016 – A Southwest Research Institute-led team has documented atmospheric changes on Io, Jupiter’s volcanically active satellite, as the giant planet casts its shadow over the moon’s surface during daily eclipses. A study led by SwRI’s Constantine Tsang concluded that Io’s thin atmosphere, which consists primarily of sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas emitted from volcanoes, collapses as the SO2 freezes onto the surface as ice when Io is shaded by Jupiter. When the moon moves out of eclipse and ice warms, the atmosphere reforms through sublimation, where ice converts directly to gas. “This research is the first time scientists have observed this phenomenon directly, improving our understanding of this geologically active moon,” said Tsang, a senior research scientist in SwRI’s Space Science and Engineering Division. The findings were published in a study titled “The Collapse of Io’s Primary Atmosphere in Jupiter Eclipse” in the Journal of Geophysical Research. The team used the eight-meter Gemini North telescope in Hawai’i with the Texas Echelon Cross Echelle Spectrograph (TEXES) for this research. Data showed that Io’s atmosphere begins to “deflate” when the temperatures drop from -235 degrees Fahrenheit (-148 ℃) in sunlight to -270 degrees Fahrenheit (-168 ℃) during eclipse. Eclipse occurs 2 hours of every Io day (1.7 Earth days). In full... read more