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Public Mauna Kea Observatory Tours Kick Off

Posted January 12, 2016, 02:08 PM HST Updated January 12, 2016, 03:25 PM HST
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Summit of Mauna Kea. Univesity of Hawai'i file photo.

Summit of Mauna Kea. Univesity of Hawai’i file photo.

Maunakea Observatories and the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center will host the first Kamaaina Observatory Experience tour for the public on Saturday.

The Kamaaina Observatory Experience will be hosted as a monthly community event that welcomes residents of Hawai’i to the Maunakea science reserve, where they will see telescopes and learn about the cultural and environmental importance of Mauna Kea.

“This is the first time that our local community will have an opportunity like this to experience what this special place has to offer – culturally, environmentally and scientifically,” said Kaiu Kimura, executive director of ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center. “We at Imiloa see this Kamaaina Observatory Experience as an extension of our work to increase awareness, outreach, and access to the wealth of knowledge that Maunakea embodies.”

Those interested in attending the Kamaaina Observatory Experience will be able to tour two of the 13 observatories on Mauna Kea. Two observatories will rotate on a monthly basis.

Maunakea Observatories officials say the partnership will allow participants to learn about stewardship and protection efforts on the mountain, as well as the cultural significance of Mauna Kea.

Participants will be transported to and from the summit and will have lunch at Halepohaku, the midpoint facility.

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“While astronomy has a 50-year history on Maunakea, this program marks the first time the observatories have collectively opened their doors to the public,” said Mary Beth Laychak, outreach program manager at the Canada-France-Hawai’i Telescope. “We hope to honor the scientific heritage of Hawai’i and Maunakea by inviting our local community to see the work we are doing in these telescopes firsthand.”

The Canada-France-Hawai’i Telescope, Gemini Observatory, the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (EAO), NASA Infrared Telescope, Subaru Telescope, Submillimeter Array, and the W.M. Keck Observatory are all participating observatories in the Kamaaina Observatory Experience.

Participation will be free of charge and open to Hawai’i residents. Individuals must be 16 years of age or older and possess a valid Hawai’i ID.

To learn more about the program or to reserve a spot, visit the Kamaaina Observatory Experience website or call the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center at 969-9703.

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