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Education and Outreach

Physical Feature: Tropic of Cancer at Mokumanamana

Mokumanamana. Photo Credit: Wayne Levin

Mokumanamana sits just north of the Tropic of Cancer, a circle of latitude around the Earth that marks the northern-most position of the sun where it appears directly overhead at its zenith, or highest position. Along this path, when the sun is directly overhead, your body will not cast a shadow. This has significance in Hawaiian cosmology, non-instrument navigation, and tradtional cultural ceremonies around the world. In Hawaiian, the path of the sun along the Tropic of Cancer is called "ke ala polohiwa a Kāne," or "the black shining road of Kāne." The concentration of cermonial sites on Mokumanamana - the highest in the Hawaiian archipelago - may be a testament to this special physical feature, and its significance in Hawaiian culture.

View Pō and Ao map of Papahānaumokuākea