Astronomy, 1909.

The Hawaiian Astronomy.

It is a great pity that David Malo, the Hawaiian Historian and Antiquarian, did not preserve in his “Moolelo Hawaii” or Hawaiian Antiquities, some account on Ancient Hawaiian Astronomy. S. M. Kamakau, a contemporary of David Malo, and also a writer on the Ancient History of Hawaii nei, is little better off, about this matter than his colleague. He wrote an article on “Instructions in Ancient Hawaiian Astronomy” and was published in the Nupepa Kuokoa of Aug. 5th, 1865. It was translated into English by Prof. W. D. Alexander for Maile Wreath (Lei Maile), and was republished by Mr. Thos. G. Thrum, in his “Hawaiian Annual” for 1890.

In the year 1885, we found in the monthly newspaper, “Ka Hoku o ke Kai,” that subject was treated again, only to last a very short time. And about twelve or thirteen years ago we again found certain very valuable statements pertaining to the Ancient History of Hawaii by Kanalu, said to be the priestly ancestor of the priesthood or order of Kanalu.

We saw in “The Journal of the Polynesian Society,” Vol. XVI, No. 2, an article on “Tahitian Astronomy” by Miss Teuira Henry. It treats the “Birth of the Heavenly Bodies.” It is very interesting.

In order to preserve these accounts relating to Hawaiian Astronomy, we give our English translation here, starting first from the account in Ka Hoku o ke Kai (1885).

In ancient times, the class of people studying the positions of the moon, the rising and setting of certain fixed stars and constellations, and also of the sun, are called the kilo-hoku or astrologers. Their observations of these heavenly bodies might well be called the study of astronomy. The use of astrology anciently, was to predict certain events of fortunes and misfortunes, victory or defeat of a battle, death of king or queen, or any high chief; it also foretells of pestilence, famine, fine or stormy weather and so forth.

The old Hawaiians knew some names of certain planets and several constellations. The names of planets are somewhat slightly different in corresponding English names, rendered by Andrews, Alexander and the late Dr. Bishop.

1 Ukali Mercury Mercury Mercury
2 Hokuao
Hokuloa Venus Venus Venus
3 Holoholopinaau Mars Saturn Mars
4 Kaawela Venus (an evening star) Jupiter Jupiter
5 Naholoholo Saturn (See No. 3) Saturn

The Hawaiian name for Mars according to Prof. Alexander is Hokuula (red star). In the newspaper “Ka Hoku o ka Pakipika,” published about the year 1860, the name for the planet Saturn was Makalii, Kauopae for Jupiter and Polowehilani for Mars.

(To be Continued)

(Kuokoa Home Rula, 4/2/1909, p. 2)

The Hawaiian Astronomy.

Kuokoa Home Rula, Buke VII, Helu 14, Aoao 2. Aperila 2, 1909.


More on the arrival of the British Astronomers, 1874.

Arrived at

Honolulu, is the Astronomical Expedition sent by the British Empire to observe the transit of Venus in front of the Sun, from Valparaiso, aboard the warship “Scout,” in thirty-six days. The head of the Expedition is Captain G. L. Tupman, just as we explained in an earlier issue.

The first location was chosen at Honuakaha, Honolulu, and the head of this expedition will watch and it is he who will actually be at this location while being assisted by Lieutenant Ramsden and Prof. Nichols. The second location to observe from will be chosen from somewhere on Hawaii Island, perhaps in Kohala, or Waiohinu maybe. This place will be overseen by Prof. G. Porepe [Forbes] assisted by Prof. H. G. Barnacle. The third location under consideration is perhaps on Kauai (between Waimea and Mana), or on Niihau. This will be under the direction of Prof. R. Johnson assisted by Lieut. E. W. J. Noble, but this observation place will have two astronomers there. The observations of the astronomers will decide the right location suitable for their work. An area with great clarity will be built: somewhere that their instruments can easily be transported without being damaged, a place that is dry and without rain, and not somewhere that is seen to be windy during the day, a place that the sun goes down clearly, and the sky cannot be obstructed with drifting clouds.

With them are not less than twenty-five meteorologists [ana ino?] who will be put to work at each of the three observation areas. The Expedition brought along with them a great many workers, and our government has forgave those duties to help this scientific endeavor of man. A British vessel will be sent to travel between the three locations, named Boxer, and it is hoped that it will arrive everyday. It is not for us to say that we should all help, both Hawaiians and haole, to advance this great endeavor, but it is for each of you to think and decide to extend a helping hand to move forward this knowledge, at each of the locations where they set up their equipment.

It is not often that before us appears [opportunities] to assist scientists of this class in our shores, and therefore, we hope as this is the beginning, and that their time here will be adorned with the lei of progress.

(Kuokoa, 9/19/1874, p. 2)

Ua hiki mai ma

Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, Buke XIII, Helu 38, Aoao 2. Sepatemaba 19e, 1874.

The British Astronomers arrive, 1874.

[Found under: “Local News”]

The British Man-of-war “Scout.”—On the evening of this Wednesday, this warship of the queen arrived with the expedition of the Group Observing the transit of Venus before the sun, after 36 days from Valparaiso. The reason for them not arriviving early as was planned was because the Observation Expedition did not arrive in Valparaiso before the date it was planned for them to leave there.

(Kuokoa, 9/14/1874, p. 3)

Ka Manuwa Beritania "Scout."

Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, Buke XIII, Helu 37, Aoao 3. Sepatemaba 12, 1874.

More on Transit of Venus, 1874.

The Day to Watch the Stars.

(Written for the Kuokoa)

The afternoon of this past Tuesday of this week, December 8th, was the day when Astronomers from times past and of these times believed that Venus [Hokuloa] would pass in front of the Sun, and it indeed did happen.

The Sun came out that morning shinning nicely, and its rays continued to shine forth with clarity until the second when Hokuloa’s was seen beginning to peep over at the edge of the sun. The heavens were clear and the floating clouds were banished away, with just one seen, the thick, black cloud surrounding the heavens.

Here are the places in Honolulu set aside by the people wanting to view the appearance of Hokuloa as it passed by: Honuakaha in Honolulu, the actual base of the Astronomers; the Government Surveying Office in the Government Building Aliiolani, for the Government Surveyor Laiana [C. J. Lyons]; the Labor Office, for David N. Flitner; Kapunahou [Punahou School], for the head of the Government Surveyors, W. D. Alekanedero [W. D. Alexander]; at Pawaa, for the Deputy Harbor Master of Honolulu, Captain Daniela [Daniel] Smith. And for the multitudes who just wanted a glimpse, they grabbed real telescopes and looked straight at the sun; and for those without telescopes, they grabbed shards of glass and placed them over candles until black, and then looked and could see.

From the base of the British Astronomers at Honuakaha, it was very calm, there were no one allowed entrance, there was no talking, no whispering, and nothing that would cause excitement was desired; a battalion of soldiers was sent to the observation area to guard their peace. The Astronomer Boys put their all into their work for which they were sent by the government at great expense. Not one of them has any complaints about Hawaii for they were provided and blessed with a totally clear sky, and perhaps we would not be mistaken to say that these astronomers were very lucky for getting this good day for which they will not forget Hawaii.

And by the kindness of the British Astronomers in Honolulu, we have these times below from various telescopes the Astronomers and others away from different places.

When Hokuloa was seen barely at the edge of the Sun, here are the different times of the British Astronomers:

Tupman, (Head Astronomer.) 3 [hr.], 7 [min.], 1 [sec.]

Noble, (Assistant Astronomer.) 3 [hr.], 7 [min.], 3 [sec.]

When Hokuloa began to clearly move into the face of the Sun, here are the various times from the Astronomers of Britain and those people from here:

Tupman, (Head Astronomer.) 3 [hr.], 35 [min.], 56 [sec.]

Noble, (Assistant.) 3 [hr.], 35 [min.], 54½ [sec.]

D. Smith (Of Hawaii.) 3 [hr.], 35 [min.], 54 [sec.]

C. J. Lyons (Of Hawaii.) 3 [hr.], 35 [min.], 54 [sec.]

D. N. Flitner (Of Hawaii.) 3 [hr.], 35 [min.], 58 [sec.]

The times seen by the last three were not taken into account by the Astronomers. However, there was not much difference between the times seen by the British Astronomers and our people keeping time. But it was surely a nice day for observing.

The slides taken were not as great as was hoped for, but they are indeed of much value.

(Kuokoa, 12/12/1874, p. 2)

Ka la Kilo Hoku.

Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, Buke XIII, Helu 50, Aoao 2. Dekemaba 12, 1874.