Astronomy in Hawai'i
There were two important tasks that drew on ancient Hawaiians’ understanding of space and time. One was constructing a ritual calendar for determining the length of the day, week, month, and year; the other was navigating on the seas between island destinations.
The first, calendrics, was the responsibility of the priests, among whom were stargazers called kilo hoku, from kilo (to observe or to watch), and hoku (star). The same stargazers, however, observed more than stars. They knew the sun's motions and those of the moon and the planets, but the stars were the most challenging.
Let us look at this from the standpoint of the student who starts out in “class,” which was a place set aside for men and boys to worship the gods. In a place where men only spoke with one another in the men's eating house, the hale mua, the “front” (mua) house in the compound of the household (kulana kauhale), a young boy began his training in these subjects. Since they were part of required religious...
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