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This page has the questions and answers for issues related to Hawaiian
astronomy, archaeoastronomy and field work.
- 9/4/99 - Elaine Mahoney - "I am trying to get our class to
map an local heaiau (Kukaniloko) and to try to prove that certain
stones were used to mark the solstices and the rising of Makalii
(pleides). I have already gotten permission from the Hawaiian Civic
Club of Wahiawa and am meeting with state parks person on friday to
seek permisssion to do our investigation. Is it possible to prove
these hypotheses in other ways besides being there Dec 21st and June
21st and the beginning and the end of the Makahiki season marked by the
pleides??? The CAD instructors from LCC have the surveying equipment
to conduct surveys. We want to map and then confirm maps with hand
held GPS devices down loaded at Windward Community College. Then is it
possible to superimpose path of the sun at the solstices to see if
certain rocks were indeed used to mark the farthest positions of the
sun??? I feel totally out of my element in bringing these different
areas together. Do you know someone who I can consult who has more
understanding of these things than I do? I would appreciate any input
you can give."
Ans: [kjm] The heiau idea sounds *wonderful*. Here is what I would
I have contacted a colleague of mine, Clive Ruggles, who specializes in
this area, and he has suggested some software you can download to use
from his site. This will compute the expected declination of the sun
and moon from a measured azimuth and elevation at a site (useful to see
if predicted alignments will work).
- Survey the site and get exact positions with GPS systems
- You could plot the alignments with USGS maps.
- We can use some planetarium type software, such as Voyager to look at the
azimuth (position along the horizon, measured from East) for the rising
and setting of the Pleiades. For that sort of alignment, we would have
to know the approximate age of the site since precession will affect the
stellar alignment (but not the solstices). You could be working on this
project to make a prediction, and then take a field trip on "the date"
to see if it worked. I think this would be very powerful - if the weather
is good and it works that would be great, but if it is cloudy then...
shows the perseverence of ancient peoples in trying to get an alignment.
Then imagine doing it without the GPS and surveying equipment -- from
generations of watching the stars!!!