Lāhainā Noon

Twice a year, in May and July, the Sun passes directly overhead for locations on Earth in the tropics. On these two days, around local noon, the Sun will be exactly overhead, at a 90o angle, and an upright object such as a flagpole will have no shadow. This phenomenon only occurs in the tropics; the Sun is never directly overhead in any other part of the planet. In 1990 Bishop Museum held a contest to give a name to this phenomenon. The winner was “lāhainā noon.”

The word lāhainā may be translated into English as “cruel sun,” but effectively makes reference to severe droughts experienced in that part of the island of Maui.


The chart below gives the overhead sun dates and times for several locations in 2021

Līhuʻe, Kaua‘i, 22o N May 30, 12:35 p.m. July 11, 12:43 p.m.
Haleʻiwa, O‘ahu, 21.6o N May 28, 12:30 p.m. July 14, 12:38 p.m.
Kāne‘ohe, O‘ahu, 21.4o N May 27, 12:28 p.m. July 15, 12:37 p.m.
Honolulu, O‘ahu, 21.3o N May 26, 12:29 p.m. July 16, 12:38 p.m.
Kaunakakai, Moloka‘i, 21.1o N May 25, 12:25 p.m. July 17, 12:34 p.m.
Kahului, Maui, 20.88 o N May 24, 12:23 p.m. July 18, 12:32 p.m.
Lahaina, Maui, 20.87 o N May 24, 12:24 p.m. July 18, 12:33 p.m.
Lāna‘i City, Lāna‘i, 20.83o N May 24, 12:25 p.m. July 18, 12:34 p.m.
Hāna, Maui, 20.75 o N May 23, 12:21 p.m. July 19, 12:30 p.m.
Waimea, Hawaiʻi Island, 20 o N May 19, 12:19 p.m. July 22, 12:29 p.m.
Hilo, Hawai‘i Island, 19.7 o N May 18, 12:17 p.m. July 24, 12:27 p.m.
Kailua, Kona, Hawai‘i Island, 19.6 o N May 17, 12:20 p.m. July 24, 12:31 p.m.
South Point, Hawai‘i Island, 18.9 o N May 14, 12:19 p.m. July 27, 12:29 p.m.

About the Planetarium

Bishop Museum’s Jhamandas Watumull Planetarium was the first planetarium in Polynesia. Originally called the Kilolani Planetarium, the Watumull Planetarium has served over six million visitors and students since it opened its doors on December 11, 1961. Our Chronos II star machine provides one of the most vivid, realistic recreations of the night sky available today, with 8,500 pinpoint stars and realistic, bright planets. Our Digistar full dome video system covers the entire dome in immersive video, allowing us to fly through the rings of Saturn or into the depths of the Orion nebula.

The planetarium has 70 seats and serves 70,000 people a year. The planetarium focuses on programs about Hawai‘i; a hallmark of its programs is the blending of live and prerecorded elements within each program.