Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Monday, Dec. 22, 2014

The brightest and most well known open cluster of stars, the Pleiades, is visible in Ka`u's night sky this month. Astronomer Lew Look, author of Stars Over Ka`u, asks, "How many can you count?"NASA image from Lew Cook
COFFEE BERRY BORERS are making headlines not only for their destructive behavior on Ka`u Coffee farms but also what news and social media are spreading as "kinky sex." 
      “See that cup of coffee you grabbed this morning?” asks Brandon Ambrosino at vox.com. “That delicious, life-sustaining beverage comes from coffee beans. And before those beans were roasted, insects were having sex in them.
The sex life of coffee berry borers is the subject of several media reports.
Photo by Peggy Greb/USDA Ag Research Service
      “According to a recent study published in the Journal of Insect Behavior, coffee berry borers (Hypothenemus hampei), which are native to Africa, spend a good deal of their lives in coffee beans, which means, writes Discovery News, ‘kinky sex takes place in many coffee beans before they are roasted.’
      “As The Week points out, the sex is also incestuous sometimes. When females aren’t reproducing through parthenogenesis (i.e. by herself) then they ‘have to be copulated by their sibling males before leaving the native coffee fruit to improve their chances of successful colonization,’ writes study co-author Weliton Dias Silva.
      “These insects, which are tiny beetles, are incredibly small, with the females averaging slightly larger lengths (.07 inches) than males (.06 inches). Because the males are smaller, they're called ‘dwarves.’
      “So how do the insects find their way into the actual coffee beans? According to Discovery, they find their way into the beans ‘after sniffing out chemicals released by coffee plants.’ Females leave the beans at 15 days old, but males stick around, which means, yeah, your roasted coffee beans could have male insects in them.
      “If you’re worried about using sex-ruined coffee beans, here are two tips for avoiding them. If the coffee beans seem more hollow than others, or if there are tiny, beetle-sized holes in them, avoid them. And if you like Arabica beans, find a new flavor because that seems to be the most infested bean.
      “Granted, writes The Week, you probably shouldn’t be too worried about the sexual history of your coffee beans as most of the infected ones are taken off the market. That’s good news for coffee drinkers, but bad news for farmers. According to estimates from the USDA, these losses can add up to more than $500 million annually.”
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Spinner dolphins rest in Hawai`i's bays, where tourists go to interact with them.
Photo from wikipedia
IMPORTANCE TO TOURISM is a strategy suggested by a new study outlining dangers to spinner dolphins and how to preserve their populations in Hawai`i. The study from Duke University attempts to find ways to reduce pressures placed on dolphins as the number of tours to the state’s bays such as Kealakekua Bay in West Hawai`i, which dolphins use as safe places to rest, increases.
      According to the researchers, a combination of federal regulations and community-based conservation measures is the best way to protect Hawai`i’s wild spinner dolphins in Hawai`i. Community-based conservation efforts involve local residents working together to manage the bays and discourage human behaviors that can harm dolphins. Educating and reaching out to the public are key to the efforts, according to the study.
      Heather Heenehan, a doctoral candidate at Duke University’s Marine Laboratory who led the study, said it “explicitly acknowledges that all users of these bays have the right to take advantage of the resources they offer – including dolphins, which are protected from harassment under federal law.”
      David Johnston, assistant professor at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, said, “A combination of management approaches is needed immediately to make interactions between humans and dolphins sustainable. Neither top-down mandates nor bottom-up stakeholder efforts are the sole answer to this problem.”
       To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

As lava approaches Pahoa Marketplace, Jungle Love gift shop employees told
Gov. David Ige they hope to remain open until Christmas.
Photo from Big Island Video News
AS CHRISTMAS APPROACHES, so does lava on its way toward Pahoa Marketplace. Merchants still open are taking advantage of a slowing of the lava’s progress. A Jungle Love employee, a gift shop in the center, told Gov. David Ige during his visit Thursday that this is their busiest time of year. “This is how we get our bread and butter,” she said. She hopes to stay open until Christmas. “I don’t know very much after that,” she said. 
      Lava remains active about about one-half mile upslope of Pahoa Marketplace. Having entered a more level area, the flow front is widening rather than following a narrow path downhill.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

IN HIS CURRENT ISSUE OF STARS OVER KA`U in The Ka`u Calendar, astronomer Lew Cook discusses how planets are formed, their relationships to stars and stars visible in late December. 
      “Astronomers have known planets come from gas and dust that forms around very young stars,” Cook says. “Those stars themselves were born from this very dust and gas cloud. For the first time, ESO, the European Southern Observatory in Chile, reports imaging clearly the disk around a young star.
      “‘A new image from ALMA, the Atacama Large Millimeter/sub-millimeter Array, reveals extraordinarily fine detail that has never been seen before in the planet-forming disc around a young star. ALMA‚ Ao’s new high-resolution capabilities, were achieved by spacing the antennas up to 15 kilometers apart. This new result represents an enormous step forward in the understanding of how protoplanetary discs develop and how planets form.
The disk and gas around the star HL Taurus ALMA image from Lew Cook
      ‘ALMA has obtained its most detailed image yet showing the structure of the disc around HL Tau (a variable star), a million-year-old sun-like star located approximately 450 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Taurus. The image exceeds all expectations and reveals a series of concentric and bright rings, separated by gaps.’ 
      “Planets are forming in the gaps seen in the image. The location of the star, HL Taurus, is shown on the Dec. 2014 star chart, but don’t expect to be able to see it, as it is 14th magnitude. You can see, on a good night, stars to the sixth magnitude. Even with a large amateur telescope of 12 inches diameter, it is only just visible.
      “Nearly overhead … at 9 p.m. during the last part of the month is the group of stars called the Pleiades. Galileo was the first to examine the Pleiades through a telescope, discovering there were many stars in the cluster. He counted 36. I doubt he was aware of how may stars there were at the time. Astronomers term this grouping an Open Cluster of stars. The Pleiades is about 400 light years away.
      “It has recently formed from a dust and gas cloud like the Orion nebula and contains around 3,000 stars. Over the next 250 million years they will lose their association with each other, becoming random stars in the Milky Way. The founders of our civilization used the Pleiades as a test of vision for their soldiers: If a person could see seven stars, he passed the test for an archer.
      “The Pleiades is the brightest and most well known open cluster. There are many other star clusters like the Pleiades, but fainter. The stars being born in the Orion nebula are an example (at 1,300 light years). So is the Hyades (150 light years) just southeast of the Pleiades. “Although Aldeberan appears to be part of the Hyades, it is much closer to us at 65 light years. There is another type of cluster that has so many stars in it that the cluster’s gravitational stronghold on the stars keep it together for a very long time. We’ll discuss these globular clusters of stars at a later time. 
      “Speaking of Orion, he rises and continues his relentless chase of the seven sisters of the Pleiades where the Ancient God Zeus cast him after his death from the scorpion’s sting. Be sure to look for the Andromeda Galaxy – the most distant object visible to the unaided eye before it follows Pegasus past the western horizon. Use binoculars or a telescope for a better view.”
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Aloha Handbells return for Wednesday's Christmas Eve candlelight service
at Na`alehu United Methodist Church. Photo from Julie White
KA`U RESIDENT DICK HERSHBERGER brings Hawaiian Volcano Observatory founder Thomas Jaggar to life tomorrow. A Walk into the Past programs begin at 10 a.m., 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. Participants meet at Hawai`i Volcano National Park’s Kilauea Visitor Center and walk to his underground laboratory near Volcano House. 

NA`ALEHU UNITED METHODIST CHURCH offers Christmas Eve Candlelight Service Wednesday at 7 p.m. with carols, biblical Christmas story and specialty music featuring choir, Aloha Handbells, spiritual dance, trumpets, flutes, `ukulele and more.


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