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Hawaiian Trail & Mountain Corp.


Experience Lahaina Noon

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When you were young you learned why a solstice and an equinox were special events that happened twice a year. Within the tropics there’s another solar phenomena that happens twice a year, but it’s location-based and constantly moving — the point directly below the sun, or the subsolar point. In Hawaii this moment has been known as lahaina noon since 1990. 

The subsolar point wraps once a day around the globe, like kite string wrapping neatly around a reel. In Hawaii the point inches northwards, day by day, in late May. It touches the Tropic of Cancer at the northern solstice in June, then returns to the islands from the middle to the end of July. 

The exact day jumps around, but this month on Oahu’s south side May 25, 26 and 27 are all good times to witness the event. In Honolulu this occurs at 12:28 pm on these days. A minute earlier Waimanalo side, a minute later Kapolei side. 

For the few moments the sun appears perfectly overhead buildings and objects with flush sides don’t cast a shadow in any direction. If you stand and witness your feet you’ll see the smallest shadow you can cast. With the dawn of phone cameras it’s become popular to observe the moment with a picture of your feet, or of people standing nest to things like signs or poles that are plum to the ground with no shadow. 

Certain structures show interesting effects, the most prominent in Honolulu is Isamu Naguchi’s Sky Gate sculpture on the grounds of the Civic Center near Honolulu Hale. Giant tripod-like legs hold a zigzagging ring 24 feet above a tiered platform. Around lahaina noon the shadow of the sculpture resolves into a circle nicely filling the platform ring.  

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As members of the Auckland Tramping Club are being sponsored by HTMC in late May, we have planed an urban experience for them that will include a walk through downtown Honolulu. It will begin at noon on the grounds of the Civic Center and viewing lahaina noon at the Sky Gate sculpture on Monday, May 27, 2024. For detailed info about the other Memorial Day activities that HTMC is hosting CLICK HERE

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Link to panoramic pics around Sky Gate from July 2021.

Pat Rooney