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Maunakea IRTF Supports Jupiter Exploration

Posted December 14, 2016, 09:00 AM HST Updated December 14, 2016, 10:25 AM HST
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NASA’s Juno Spacecraft. NASA photo.

NASA’s Juno Spacecraft. NASA photo.

The public will have the opportunity to learn about the formation of planets and other related science phenomena at ‘Imiloa’s Maunakea Skies talk on Friday, Dec. 16, at 7 p.m., presented by Dr. John Rayner, director of the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility on Maunakea.

One of the most fascinating elements of modern astronomy is the stream of recent exoplanet discoveries—planets circling other stars.

Extensive research and development are currently underway in order to better understand how these planets are formed, as well as discovering the formation of planets within our own solar system.

Dr. Rayner will discuss how the NASA IRTF is providing supporting observations for NASA’s own Juno spacecraft, which is currently orbiting Jupiter to measure the planet’s overall structure and composition and increasing our understanding of how it was formed.

Jupiter is by far the largest planet in the solar system, and knowledge of its properties is key to understanding the formation of the solar system and possibly other planetary systems.

Dr. Rayner will describe the Juno mission and the role of this spacecraft in this epic quest for knowledge.

Dr. John Rayner, director of the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility. NASA photo.

Dr. John Rayner, director of the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility. NASA photo.

Dr. Rayner obtained his education in the UK with a degree in Physics from Kings College, University of London, and a Ph.D. in astronomical instrumentation from the University of Edinburgh. He has been building infrared instruments at IRTF for the past 27 years and is currently commissioning a high-resolution infrared spectrograph, optimized for observing star and planet-forming disks, planetary atmospheres and comets.

Hosted by Planetarium Technician Emily Peavy, ‘Imiloa’s monthly Maunakea Skies program includes observational highlights of the current night sky over Hawai‘i. Attendees can view prominent constellations and stars visible during this time of year.

Maunakea Skies planetarium presentations are held on the third Friday of each month.

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General admission tickets are $10 and $8 for members (member level discounts apply).

Pre-purchase tickets at ‘Imiloa’s front desk or by phone at (808) 932-8901.

About ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center

The ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai‘i is a world-class center for informal science education located on the University of Hawai‘i campus. Its centerpiece is a 12,000 square-foot exhibit hall showcasing astronomy and Hawaiian culture as parallel journeys of human exploration guided by the light of the stars. The visitor experience is amplified with programming using ‘Imiloa’s 3D full dome planetarium and 9 acres of native landscape gardens.

The center welcomes approximately 100,000 visitors each year, including over 10,000 schoolchildren on guided field trips and other educational programs.

‘Imiloa is located at 600 ‘Imiloa Place in Hilo, off of Komohana and Nowelo Streets at the UH Hilo Science and Technology Park.

For more information, visit www.ImiloaHawaii.org or call (808) 932-8901.

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