East Hawaii News

Keck Observes 20th Anniversary with Variety of Events

March 11, 2013, 2:01 PM HST
* Updated March 11, 2:03 PM
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A variety of activities are scheduled as the W.M. Keck Observatory observes its 20th anniversary on March 16.

“Keck Week,” which is being organized by Friends of Keck Observatory from March 13-19, includes an open house on Saturday, March 16, at the observatory’s headquarters at 65-1120 Mamalahoa Hwy. in Waimea.

The event scheduled from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. is open to the public and will include hands-on exhibits, demonstrations and presentations by Keck staff members.

Other Keck Week events, most of which include registration and an entry fee, include the Keck Observatory 20th Anniversary Science Meeting, a two-day conference being held Thursday and Friday, and “Astronomy Live! Tonight,” hosted by science writer Timothy Ferris from 7-9:30 p.m. Friday. Both are being held at the Fairmont Orchid resort in South Kohala.

“Star Struck: Keck Observatory Gala” will be held from 5:30-10 p.m. Saturday at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai. A fundraiser for Keck operations, it will include a live auction, gourmet dinner, live music and special guests.

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The Keck Tennis Match scheduled for 3-5 p.m. Sunday at the Fairmont Orchid Tennis Stadium will feature an exhibition match with Keck astronomers playing against Friends of Keck.

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Another free event will be the showing of the 1998 feature “Contact” at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Kahilu Theatre in Waimea. Artist and science illustrator Jon Lomberg will host the showing of the film inspired by the late astronomer Carl Sagan.

The Keck Observatory consists of a pair of telescopes eight stories tall and weighing 300 tons each. Each instrument contains primary mirrors 10 meters (about 98 feet) in diameter composed of 36 hexagonal segments that work in concert.

The observatory has been credited with numerous discoveries, including the detection 16 years ago of the first planet outside of our solar system.

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Other Keck advances include proof of the existence of a black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy; the finding in the outer reaches of our solar system of Eris, the first of the dwarf planets that led to demotion of Pluto from planet status; and new analyses of planets, stars and galaxies.

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