From the August 2008 issue

Stephen James O’Meara’s secret sky: The Pit and the Pendulum

October 2008: Stars' apparent motions mark the passage of time and important life events.
By | Published: August 25, 2008 | Last updated on May 18, 2023
“There was something, however, in the appearance of this machine which caused me to regard it more attentively. While I gazed directly upward at it . . . I fancied that I saw it in motion.” — Edgar Allan Poe, The Pit and the Pendulum

Last March, I watched the dead come to life. On the evening of the 13th, Halemaumau, the summit crater of Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano, spewed incandescent gas into the night air for the first time in more than a quarter-century. Seven days later, the crater erupted for the first time since 1924. Like the periodic return of Halley’s Comet, the recurrence of explosive activity at Kilauea may be a once-in-a-lifetime event.