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 2022.
|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 opened its doors on December 12, 1961. Originally called the Kilolani Planetarium, the Watumull Planetarium has served over six million visitors and students over 60 years of continuous operation. The Planetarium was instrumental in the recovery of the nearly lost art and science of traditional, non-instrument navigation in Hawaiʻi. Nainoa Thompson spent countless hours in the Planetarium with Will Kyselka and other Planetarium staff in the late 1970s learning how to read the night sky. We are honored to continue that legacy by serving as a training space for today’s navigators.
Our GOTO Chronos II optical star projector 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 4K
full-dome video system covers the entire dome in immersive video, allowing us to fly through the rings of Saturn, into the depths of the Orion nebula, out to the edge of the universe, and even simulate a voyage across the Pacific.
The Planetarium has 64 seats and serves 70,000 people a year. The planetarium focuses on programs about Hawaiʻi, blending live and prerecorded elements within each program.