Jun 8, 2012

Venus Transit - Waimea's and Kaua`i CC's Major Roles

Venus Transit as seen through Kaua`i Community College Telescope.
Russian Fort Elizabeth, Waimea, Kauai, Hawaii. June 5, 2012.
(c) All rights reserved.
Early morning June 5th. Astronomers checked weather patterns with great anticipation for a clear day. Cameras, telescopes, viewing glasses, and homemade viewing devices were loaded into vehicles across the island. By noon, the cloud cover had increased over Kaua`i. Though not so much at Russian Fort Elizabeth in Waimea and throughout the afternoon a steady stream of viewers came by to see the Venus Transit through Kaua`i CC’s telescopes. [Read on for KCC Instructor Michael Hannawald’s engaging article on Waimea's historical role in the Venus Transit and KCC’s service-learning project.]
Intro by Cammie Matsumoto

We observed the last Venus transit on June 2005 in this century. Following the tradition of Venus transits Waimea played once again a major role in this year’s observation. More than 100 visitors were drawn to the event hosted by Kaua`i CC at Russian Fort Elizabeth. We welcomed visitors from across the island, and even Texas, Boston, Vancouver, and Stuttgart Germany. The sky was clear and the weather conditions fit the expectations for perfect observation.
Michael chats with Chancellor Helen Cox and Mona Kincaid
as others look on at Waimea's Russian Fort Elizabeth.
Waimea, Kauai, Hawaii. June 5, 2012.

Besides weather, the reason Waimea was chosen as the location for the KCC event results from its history. In April 1769, after eight months journey James Cook, commanding the Endeavor, arrived at Tahiti to observe the transit of Venus for the Royal Society. After that he traveled the Pacific and arrived in Waimea. The historical telescope mount with engraved plate is still located at its original place on the property of Pastor Olaf Hoeckmann’s Church, close to Waimea High School.

The Natural Science Department of KCC conducted a service-learning project (an outside classroom) during the time of observation on June 5th. Four KCC students, Haley Adamic, Chloe Stokes, Jin-Wah Lau, and Travis Manning presented posters and information about the transit and pointed out the importance of historical transits for the understanding and calculation of the size of our solar system.

The public was invited including high school students in science class from Kapa`a High School, Waimea High School (Astronomy Club), Kawaikini School, and Island School.

KCC Math Instructor Loni Delaplane with Marshall Mock, retired KCC Science Professor, astronomer, and a builder
Namahoe, Kauai's Polynesian Voyaging Canoe.
Waimea, Kauai, Hawaii. June 5, 2012.
KCC provided all equipment necessary for the safe observation of the event. In particular a new state of the art computer controlled telescope was employed to produce photographs and the best possible view for everybody who came out to look through its eyepiece.

It was a great opportunity for the community, in particular, for high school students, to become more informed about possibilities KCC provides to help those in pursuit of a scientific or engineering career. KCC endeavors to provide a strong Natural Science education that is comparable to international standards. I was the only faculty in Hawai`i to be selected to participate in a recent workshop by the National Science Foundation, to establish an effective active-learning physics environment using computational and modeling tools. KCC supported my participation. This shows KCC to be in the forefront of modern colleges and its commitment to serve the community in the most beneficial way possible.

Service Learning Project students with Instructor Michael Hannawald:
(l-r)Chloe Stokes, Michael, Travis Manning, Haley Adamic, and Jin-Wah Lau.
Waimea, Kauai, Hawaii. June 5, 2012.
Additional photos can be seen at https://fotoalbum.web.de/ui/external/gCeAnbb9TD2yGOeEOogvvg65403.

~By Michael, W. Hannawald, Ph.D.
Instructor Physics and Chemistry
Kaua`i Community College

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