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Rolf-Peter Kudritzki


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From the Director

Dear Friends of Hawaii Astronomy,

Recently, I attended the yearly convention of the Hawaiian Civic Clubs to participate in a workshop about IfA’s Pan-STARRS project. At this workshop, I learned about something completely different but also astronomy-related, the ancient Hawaiian Moon calendar.

Hawaiians in older times used a lunar calendar that had 12 or sometimes 13 months of about 30 days. For each night of the month, there was a Moon phase with a different name, and the following day took its name from that phase. While Western culture saw the Moon in only four phases, Hawaiians had a much more exact system of identifying 30 different phases. Each phase was important in daily life. Based on experience, some phases were good for fishing, and others were not. Some were very good for planting or for cultivating, while during other phases, these activities needed to be avoided. All the fishing and farming was done in accordance with the 30 phases of the Moon, which helped to build a society that could be sustained on small islands in the Pacific.

This professional modern astronomer was deeply impressed to learn about a culture in which such detailed astronomical observations were a crucial element of daily life. Our modern society has lost much of its sensitivity to subtle changes in nature. At the crossroads of ancient and modern astronomy, there is much to be learned.

Aloha!
Rolf-Peter Kudritzki
Director, Institute for Astronomy

Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program

The IfA expects to offer eight research assistant positions for the summer of 2006. These positions are funded through the National Science Foundation (NSF). This program provides undergraduates considering a career in science with the opportunity to engage in research with professional astronomers working on leading-edge problems in astrophysics. REU students will be full-time research assistants to a faculty mentor and will work on specific aspects of an ongoing research program. Hawaii residents who attend school in Hawaii or on the mainland are especially encouraged to apply. For more information and an application, see the REU Web page. The application deadline is February 1, 2006.

 

 
Highlights

Farthest Gamma-Ray Burst
IfA Machine Shops Build Telescope Instruments
Koa Ell Joins Hilo Outreach Office

Upcoming Events
Hilo and Maui AstroTalks: Thursday, December 1, IfA astronomers, "Hitchhiker's Guide to the End of Everything," 7:00 p.m., UH Hilo, University Classroom Building (UCB), room 100, and December 2, 7:00 p.m., Queen Kaahumanu Center, center stage, Kahului

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