Saturday, October 24, 2009


2009 is the International Year of Astronomy for the world to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s use of a telescope to study the sky (versus watching for returning ships or spying on neighbors). Astronomy enthusiasts across the world are using their telescopes this weekend in an effort to share Galileo’s experience of seeing Jupiter and its moons with as many people as possible

Hawaii County has had numerous activities surrounding the year long celebration. One of the highlights was a monthly lecture series featuring the Directors responsible for the telescopes on Mauna Kea mountain.

Today was another great event, an open house of every Observatory on Aohoku Place in Hilo above the University of Hawaii. Seven of the nine Observatory headquarters on the island of Hawaii are located on this street with the titanium cones of ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center located below them.

The Observatories located in Hilo are the Gemini Observatory, Joint Astronomy Centre, Japan’s Subaru Observatory, CalTech’s Submillimeter Array Observatory, the Smithsonian Submillimeter Observatory, NASA Infrared Telescope, and University of Hawaii’s Mauna Kea Observatory.

The Canada-France-Hawaii telescope and Keck Observatory offices are located in Waimea. Hilo will soon have a new Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) which is planning to start construction of the largest telescope in the world on Mauna Kea in the next couple of years.

Subaru telescope is funded by Japan and they celebrated the day with music and tours.

We were delighted to get a tour of the Subaru facility.
They showed us the area where Astronomers can remotely control and view the telescope operation.

Subaru has a lab with a replica of the telescope mounting used on Mauna Kea so that they can test new devices and verify they will properly install before they haul them up to the almost 14,000 foot level.

Hilo has an active Astronomy community with regular lectures by visiting Astronomers sponsored by Astrotalk and a yearly AstroDay event supported by the Astronomers, museums and University of Hawaii. Most kids on the island have have been exposed to astronomy through ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center’s family events, camps, after-school programs, and school fields trips supported by the Moore foundation
Hilo is a great place to be into Astronomy with many opportunities to learn and participate in observing the Universe and the dark skies program that limits light pollution and makes the Big Island one of the best places on Earth to view the skies at night.

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