Next ‘Mauna Kea Skies’ to Explore NASA’s IRTF

August 12, 2015, 11:18 AM HST
* Updated September 8, 6:18 PM
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‘Imiloa Astronomy Center’s next ‘Mauna Kea Skies’ talk will take place on Aug. 21.

The program will bring in Dr. Alan Tokunaga, the director of the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility, who will present ‘Exploring Small Worlds’

Pluto, Ceres, Vesta, and the comet Churyumoy-Gerasimeno were part of recent dwarf planet discoveries made by spacecraft, which have provided insight and understanding of separate worlds within our solar system.

During the 7 p.m. talk, Dr. Tokunaga will discuss how the IRTF contributes to observing the distant regions.

Dr. Tokunga, who grew up in Maui, is the director of the NASA IRTF, which is the 3.0 meter telescope on Mauna Kea. He received training in astronomy at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and holds research specialty in building infrared instruments and infrared observations of solar system objects, young stars, and the interstellar medium.


Currently, Dr. Tokunga is leading efforts to build an infrared spectrograph for the IRTF, which is funded by NASA. The spectrograph would allow for observations that are needed to provide support to planetary missions. IRTF is operated by the University of Hawai’i through a contract with NASA.


‘Imiloa planetary staff member Emily Peavy will host the Mauna Kea Skies program. Peavy will provide observational highlights of the current night sky over Hawai’i and will point out prominent constellations and stars.

Each third Friday of the month, a Mauna Kea Skies planetarium presentation is held. Individual, Dual, Kupuna, and Family members pay $8 admission, while Patron members pay $6. The program is free for Silver, Gold, and Corporate members. Those who are not a member of the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center pay $10.

Tickets can be pre-purchased at the ‘Imiloa front desk or by calling 969-9703.

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