The triangle is made up of three bright stars in three separate constellations: Deneb, in Cygnus the Swan; Altair, in Aquilla the Eagle; and Vega, in Lyra. This is a huge asterism (the name given to a star pattern that isn't a constellation), and easy to spot even in the city lights of Honolulu. Looking east at nightfall, find the brilliant blue-white Vega. Cast your gaze a bit lower and to the left, and there's Deneb, the northernmost of the three. Extend your arm and make a shaka - thatʻs the approximate distance from Vega to Deneb. Looking at Deneb, you are seeing the light that left that star approximately 2600 years ago - around the time that LaoTse and Buddah walked the Earth. Oh, my stars! The southernmost star is Altair, a shaka and a-half from Deneb, marking the head of the eagle. Lyra and Aquila straddle the Milkyway, and the Deneb and it's swan lie on the plane of the Milkyway, as if this swath of distant stars in our galaxy points the way to the swan's migratory path south.
For the crew of the Hokuleʻa, this triangle represents the three points of the Navigator's triangle, Huinakolu, and is part of the third star line, Manaiakalani. Deneb is known as Piraʻetea (a.k.a. Hawaʻiki), and corresponds to Hawaiʻi; Lyra is called Keoe and is the heavenly representation of Rapa Nui; and Altair takes the Hawaiian name Humu and represents Aotearoa. Drawing a line from Pitaʻetea to Humu, and extending the line southerly, the third star line continues on to Pimao (Sagittarius/ the "teapot") and to "The Big Fishhook of Maui, Ka Makau Nui o Maui, the glorious Scorpius.
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