We don’t often think about the Earth quietly moving around the sun. Day in and day out, our globe slowly rotates through night and day, summer to winter, and around again. Year after year. Every so often, particular phenomenon occur that can make us stop and pay a bit more attention. Equinoxes and solstices anchor the seasons. Full moons and eclipses bring more awe.
Another noticeable event occurs at the “subsolar point”, when the sun reaches its northernmost and southernmost position, before “stopping” at the solstice and heading in the opposite direction. At the subsolar point the sun is exactly overhead. At this moment, tall objects will have no shadow–such as a signpost, traffic cone, or … you!
The subsolar point occurs on two days each year only in tropic regions at solar noon (not necessarily the same as 12:00pm). The exact date and time depends on your location. However, it occurs twice each year in any given location in the tropic region.
- Here’s a map of the current locations of the sub-solar and sub-lunar points. You can also click your location to find out when it will next occur in your tropical location.
Hawaiʻi is the only U.S. state in a tropic region. Here, you can experience the subsolar points every year, shortly before and after the summer solstice, sometime in May and again in July.
About Lāhainā Noon
In 1990, Bishop Museum gave the subsolar points the name “Lāhainā Noon”. In Hawaiian, lā hainā means “cruel sun”.
In the Hawaiian language, the event is known as “kau ka lā i ka lolo“, which translates as “the sun rests on the brains”. In ancient times, it was considered a time with great mana (power) because a person’s shadow, being no longer visible, was thought to have entered one’s head.
In Hawaiʻi, Lāhainā Noon occurs annually from mid-May to late July at different days and times on different islands. The more northerly islands (Kauaʻi, Oʻahu) tend to see the phenomenon closer to the summer solstice (June 20-22). The more southerly islands (Maui, Hawaiʻi) will experience it earlier in May and later in July.
The exact time of Lāhainā Noon will also vary, since it occurs at solar noon, which is not the same as 12:00pm. Lāhainā Noon typically occurs between 12:15-12:45PM.
Where to experience Lāhainā Noon
Anywhere in the Hawaiian Islands on certain dates (see list blow). Look for tall and open lattice objects to observe, such as telephone poles, lamp posts, bike racks, playground structures, yourself (!), or any other tall or latticed object.
In Honolulu, a popular spot for observing Lāhainā Noon is the Sky Gate sculpture on the lawn at Honolulu Hale (formerly Honolulu Municipal Building), 530 King St, Honolulu, HI 96813.
Lāhainā Noon dates and times in Hawaiʻi
All times are local Hawaiian Time (HT)
- May 14 at 12:19 PM. Southpoint, Hawaiʻi.
- May 17-18 at 12:20 PM. Kailua-Kona, Hawaiʻi.
- May 18 at 12:17 PM. Hilo, Hawaiʻi.
- May 24 at 12:23 PM. Kahului, Maui.
- May 26-27 at 12:29 PM. Honolulu, Oʻahu.
- May 30-31 at 12:35 PM. Lihue, Kauaʻi.
- June 1 at 12:36 PM. Hanalei and Princeville, Kauaʻi.
- Jul 9 at 12:43 PM. Hanalei and Princeville, Kauaʻi
- Jul 11 at 12:43 PM. Lihue, Kauaʻi.
- Jul 15-16 at 12:38 PM. Honolulu, Oʻahu.
- Jul 18 at 12:32 PM. Kahului, Maui.
- Jul 24 at 12:27 PM. Hilo, Hawaiʻi.
- Jul 24 at 12:30 PM. Kailua-Kona, Hawaiʻi.
- Jul 27 at 12:29 PM. Southpoint, Hawaiʻi.
Find another location date and time: https://rl.se/zenith-calendar