Activities

Get Ready For a Trip to the Cosmos During AstroDay 2022

By Nathan Christophel
May 5, 2022, 12:00 PM HST
* Updated May 5, 11:17 AM
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One of the Big Island astronomy sector’s signature events is set to blast off and everyone is invited.

For the first time in two years, AstroDay returns to celebrate science in person from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 14 at Prince Kūhiō Plaza in Hilo. The science and community organizations participating and the event’s sponsors and organizers are more than ready to welcome everyone back.

“It is a great relief to be able to engage in the community again — to see people’s faces, especially the kids, and share our love for our profession,” Carolyn Kaichi, education and outreach specialist for the University of Hawai‘i Institute for Astronomy and AstroDay coordinator, told Big Island Now in an email. “So yes, I can say we are very excited!”

Photo from a past AstroDay Prince Kūhiō Plaza in Hilo. (Courtesy photos)

The popular free event that attracts hundreds gives people of all ages the opportunity to learn about the discoveries and cosmic detective work happening on the Big Island and throughout the islands. There also will be an AstroDay hosted at Kona Commons in Kailua-Kona later this year, likely in November.

“It’s a great community event that brings people together by sharing knowledge and science fun,” said Kaichi, adding AstroDay offers safe and educational ways for families to learn and explore science, inspiring them to continue learning well after the event.

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AstroDay coincides with Astronomy Day, which is an international grassroots movement to share the joy of astronomy with local communities, according to the website of AstroDay’s sponsor, the Maunakea Astronomy Outreach Committee.

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Kaichi said everyone involved in astronomy on the island enjoys interacting with their neighbors during the event, getting people excited about science and showing how they not only contribute to the Big Island community but what astronomy contributes to the world. They want people who attend to see that science is fun and critical to their lives, as well as making sure they know the astronomy sector offers plenty of educational resources.

“It’s very encouraging to see so many people interested in science and especially astronomy,” Kaichi said. “From past experience, it appears that most of the people who come for AstroDay are there because of the event itself, and even those that just happen to be at the mall become really engaged in the activities and information that are offered.”

There are also a lot of giveaways.

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More than 20 organizations are participating in the 2022 installment of AstroDay, sharing their passion for science and technology.

Kaichi said activities are planned separately by each participating organization. According to the press release, highlights this year will include:

Solar viewing: See the sun safely through a telescope with help from experienced science guides.

DIY spectroscope: Keck Observatory will show those who attend AstroDay how to make their own simple instrument that splits light into a colorful spectrum of wavelengths to see “all kinds of rainbows!”

Ask an Astronomer: A resident astronomer will be on stage at various times throughout the day to answer questions about space and astronomy.

Robotics galore: See some cool robots and other space technology offered by many organizations throughout the mall.

Along with the outreach committee and the Maunakea Observatories, this year’s participating organizations are:

  • University of Hawai‘i Institute for Astronomy
  • Canada-France-Hawai‘i Telescope
  • Gemini Observatory
  • Subaru Observatory
  • JCMT/East Asian Observatory
  • WM Keck Observatory
  • ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center
  • TMT Observatory
  • Hawai‘i Science and Technology Museum
  • Hawai‘i Space Flight Lab
  • Project PANOPTES
  • Office of Maunakea Management
  • Hilo Viking Robotics Program
  • National Weather Service
  • Hawaiian Electric
  • Pacific Tsunami Museum

And from Maui:

  • Las Cumbres Observatory
  • PAN-STARRS
  • Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope

The event also will include the announcement of this year’s Maunakea Coin Contest winners following the opening ceremony. The top winning artwork becomes the official design of the AstroDay collector coins, T-shirts and posters for the following year.

For more information about AstroDay, click here.

Nathan Christophel
Nathan Christophel has more than 20 years of experience in journalism, starting out as a reporter and working his way up to become a copy editor and page designer, most recently at the Hawaii Tribune-Herald in Hilo.
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