Hot Hawaiian Nights – Meteor Showers & Eclipses

Hawaii has the privilege of being in a prime location to observe several meteor showers each year. Nothing beats cuddling at anchor in a secluded bay and wishing on “falling stars.” Meteors are actually nothing more than cosmic space dust. Most are about the size of a regular pebble and burn up in the earth’s atmosphere long before reaching the surface. The much larger ones that actually make it through are meteorites. Every year while taking her annual orbit around the sun, the Earth passes through certain areas of the sky around the same time each year. So we also pass through those cosmic dust and debris fields on a regular basis. And that’s what meteor showers are made of.

meteor shower through the Milky Way Hawaii StargazingOn any clear, moonless summer night (far from city lights) you’ll see at least a few sporadic meteors. When we are fortunate enough to be on the water when this occurs, tens or hundreds of meteors can be observed over just a few hours. Being on the water on the right day and time is a sort of a celestial lottery. Projected peak dates or times may change as the earth draws nearer to the shower, so keep posted!

You can enjoy one of Nature’s spectacular night time displays aboard a 42ft. private catamaran. We’ll sail out far enough to be away from the influence of artificial lights. Next we will cruise parallel with the coastline, allowing our eyes to adjust to the darkness while enjoying the view of the Waianae Coast by starlight. We have a laser beam onboard to point out constellations or other interesting night-sky sights.

Observing these meteor showers from the sea could not be easier. You do not need any specialist equipment or knowledge, all you need are your eyes, and dark skies and to be onboard, away from ambient light.

Daytime event – Lahaina Noon

(can’t see your shadow at noon, sun straight overhead)

The term “Lā hainā” means ‘cruel sun’ in Hawaiian, and while the sun in the islands is almost never cruel, it can be pretty intense as it shines directly down from the zenith. In Hawaii, the sun passes overhead twice during the year. On these two days, near noon, the sun will be exactly overhead and an upright object such as a flag pole will have no shadow. This phenomenon only occurs in the tropics; the sun is never overhead in any other part of the planet. 

Oahu May 26 12:28 p.m. July 15 12:37 p.m.

As always, these predictions are to be treated with great care: timing and peak values may vary widely.

June 30-July 1 Venus and Jupiter appear together in the western sky at dusk,less than one degree apart from each other.  The two planets are the brightest dots in the sky; Venus shining at minus 4, Jupiter at minus 2.  On the evening of June 30 the two planets appear only one-third of a degree apart.

Lyrid pre-dawn meteor shower April 21—22

Typical Lyrid meteors are nearly as bright as the main stars in the Big Dipper, which makes it a good shower meteor shower through the Milky Way Hawaii Stargazing for both beginning and experienced observers. Lyrids are also known for bright meteors with persistent trails. We’ll be leaving before dawn for prime meteor viewing; and when the sun rises snorkeling and wild dolphin swim (great seasonal time for dolphins)

Eta-Aquarids Overnighter, Early Morning Meteor Shower and Marine Wildlife Encounters – Peak: evening of May 5—6. Major interference, moon almost full.

The Eta Aquarid meteor shower in early May is also known as Halley’s shower, because the meteors are produced by the detritus left by the comet of the same name.This is a fine, rich stream, but it is visible for only a few hours before dawn essentially from tropical and southern hemisphere sites. Fast and often bright meteors make this shower worthwhile, and many events leave glowing persistent trains after them.

June 7, 2015 Arietid daytime meteor shower! Streaming out of a point not far from the Sun, Could be one of the more spectacular meteor showers in 2015. Departure 4 am (5 hours, includes morning snorkel and dolphin swim)

The best time to look is just before dawn on Sunday morning when it may be possible to spot a small number of Arietids skimming the top of Earth’s atmosphere. Such “Earthgrazing” meteors tend to be long, colorful, and very pretty. Face east and start watching an hour or two before the start of dawn and continue your vigil until the sky brightens in the east.

“The Arietids are the strongest daylight shower of the year,” notes Bob Lunsford of the American Meteor Society. “If you could see them through the sun’s glare, you would count as many as 60 per hour. Also, don’t forget that the daytime Zeta Perseids peak only two days later and are considered the second strongest daylight shower. In all my years of viewing I have never seen a Zeta Perseid, but I have seen a few Arietids. They have all been Earthgrazers and very impressive meteors.”

We’ll be boarding at 4am (no traffic!) to anchor in the remote and inviting waters of Makua Bay, and view the showers peak. Shortly after sun rises, we’ll have breakfast (if your’re still awake!), and a local spinner dolphin pod is highly likely to join us for a morning swim/snorkel… then back to the dock by 9am. $175 per person, 20 passengers max.

July 31st Blue Moon

The second full moon in a given month is often called a ‘blue moon’ and here in 2015 we have full moons on both July 1 and 31, Hawai‘i Standard Time.

Southern Delta Aquarid Meteor Shower July 28-29 (i.e. stay up late on July 28). Major interference, moon almost full.

Up to 20 meteors per hour.  No interference from the moon, which I a waning crescent.  This one should be OK from the Hawaiian Islands but the view will be better from the southern hemisphere.

Perseids ” The Greatest Show not on Earth” August 11, 12 2015 NEW MOON, no interference! Departure 10pm (2.5 hours)

This is the most famous of all meteor showers. The Perseids never fail to render an impressive display and, due to its summertime appearance, it tends to provide the majority of meteors seen by non-astronomy enthusiasts. A warm summer night on the ocean, coupled with bright shooting stars are enough to entice even the most armchair-bound astronomer onboard.

As of this writing, we will be leaving at 10 pm to catch the “earth-grazers” those fewer – but longer, bigger, and brighter trails, as well as the peak of the shower. Constellations pointed out with laser. Snacks and drinks included. $145 per person, 20 passengers max.

NASA Video on the Perseid Meteor Shower NOTE: While this video mentions a full moon for the Perseid Meteor Shower, that information is not true for this year. NO moon for 2015, perfect for catching sight of a lot of meteors!

YouTube video

Orionids Meteor Shower 2015

*PEAK* October 21-22: No interference from moon, which is down long before prime shower viewing time

Every year in October Earth passes through a stream of dusty debris shed long ago by Halley’s comet. This shower produces a (highly irregular) peak rate of 20 yellow and green meteors per hour, which are fast moving at 41.6 miles per second and are known to produce fireballs. A good show could be experienced on any morning from October 20 – 24, and some meteors may be seen any time from October 17 – 25. The nearly last quarter moon may hide some of the faintest meteors this year. Best viewing will be to the east after midnight.

Late October Planet Gathering before dawn

Three of the five naked eye planets (Venus, Jupiter, and Mars) will be in a striking gathering in the east before daybreak.

Leonid Meteor Shower 2015

Peak: Nights of November 16-17 and 17-18; active period is November 13 – 20.

The Leonids have an intense peak every 33 years and were responsible for the greatest meteor shower over Hawai‘i in recent times, the 2001 shower.  Prior to that 2001 spectacle, the 1966 shower was one of the greatest on record.
Don’t expect anything like those shows till the end of our century that said.  At least the moon will not interfere this year; the moon sets well before the peak.  For the Leonid this year, expect perhaps 10 meteors per hour.

Geminids – “Winter Fireworks” Peak: December 13 and 14th (both nights, early morning) 2015

The moon is new, so viewing conditions are excellent.

If you plan to watch only one meteor shower in 2015, make it the Geminids. Best views are from the water away from ambient light. Peak time is time is between 2 and 3 am (100+ shooters per hour). The shower tends to gain strength after midnight and to climax at roughly 2:00 am in the morning. With maximums commonly reaching 50 or more meteors per hour, this is a glorious time of year in Hawaii to sprawl out on the deck and take in the show.

Geminid meteors are believed to be associated with an asteroid, not a comet. Asteroids are dry hunks of metallic rock, while comets are the dirty snowballs of space, made up of ice, dust and rocky material. This shower has increased in intensity in recent years.

Rates typically peak at 100-120/hour; this high activity lasts for several hours. It is certainly possible to see 80-100 Geminids in a single hour, along with 10-20 non-Geminids, but only from a very dark site!

December 25 Full moon on Christmas Day;

The moon is full at 1:12 a.m. Hawai‘i Standard Time on Christmas, or at 11:12 UT.  This is the first full moon on Christmas Day since December 25, 1977 (when it was full at 2:49 a.m. HST on Christmas Day, and 12:49 UT on Christmas Day).

Quadrantid Meteor Shower January 3-4

Typically, 40 or so bright, blue and fast (25.5 miles per second) meteors will radiate from the constellation Bootes, some blazing more than halfway across the sky. A small percentage of them leave persistent dust trains. This shower usually has a very sharp peak, usually lasting only about an hour.

The shower will peak this year on January 3, but some meteors will be visible from December 28 – January 7. The near first quarter moon will set shortly after midnight, leaving dark skies for what should be a good show. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Look for meteors radiating from the constellation Bootes.

Solar Eclipses –

  • (partial) in Hawaii on March 9, 2016 & August 21, 2017!

Lunar Eclipses – April 2015

Lunar eclipses occur when the earth comes in between the moon and sun. What’s really cool is that you get to go from a “full moon”, to a dark copper colored one – while being able to see all the stars as if it was a “new” or totally dark moon.

Head out on the ocean with our constellation expert crew, to get away from ambient light. A portion of all proceeds are donated to the Wild Dolphin Foundation (we may see dolphins too!) for their conservation efforts. $95 per person, book now, seats sell out quickly.

General Tips and Guidelines for Sailing with Stars Charters

The main feature is of course the meteor shower and getting away from ambient light, safely. We’ll sail out far enough to be away from the influence of artificial lights. Next we will cruise parallel with the coastline, allowing our eyes to adjust to the darkness while enjoying the view of the coast by starlight. Drinks and snacks are provided. Narration of the night skies with laser beam to point out constellations included.

For all night charters, we recommend jackets, and maybe long pants, socks and a favorite blankie. The night temperature averages in the mid ’70s, but it may get chilly out on the water. We reach waiting list status quickly for these unique charters, so the sooner you book – the better.

$95 per person, 2 hour semi-private sailing charters. We reach waiting list status quickly for these unique charters, so the sooner you book – the better. Thanks!

Notice: Wild Side (complete terms and agreements) reserves the right to substitute vessels, and to seasonally modify departure and arrival times. Due to our popularity and limited group sizes, cancellations with less than 10 day notice and “No Shows” are subject to full charge. Prices quoted do not include state tax, harbor fees or fuel surcharge.

Although our sighting rates are at 90+% we cannot guarantee sightings, interaction with wild dolphins whales, snorkeling, nor ideal weather conditions. We reserve the right to not facilitate in-water OR shipboard encounters which we feel may compromise the well-being of our guests or ocean wildlife. All passengers are required to wear flotation devices.