`Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii
`Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii is located in Hilo. Photo by Paul Coleman.
`Imiloa means "exploring for knowledge." The name encompasses
the dual nature of this world-class science center, which recently opened
its doors to the public. The `Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii presents
Hawaiian voyages of discovery (old and new) and explorations of the heavens
that are occurring at the observatories on Mauna Kea.
From its inception, the vision of this center has been one of unity.
Hawaiians call this kukulu kumuhana—the pooling of strengths for
a common purpose. That purpose is to inform all those who come to the center,
especially Hawaii's children, about two areas—the vibrant culture
of the Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians) and the constantly changing knowledge
of our Universe.
Inside the `Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii. Photo by Paul Coleman.
The center explains Mauna Kea's unique and important
roles for both the Kanaka Maoli and the astronomer. In Hawaiian tradition,
Mauna Kea is a revered ancestor, to be treated with respect. For the astronomer,
it is clearly the best location on Earth for optical, infrared, and submillimeter
The center is completely bilingual (Hawaiian and English). It is staffed
primarily by volunteers, including Hawaiian language students from UH Hilo
and from Hawaiian language immersion schools. The only real requirements
for volunteering are enthusiasm and a strong work ethic. Other desirable
qualifications include knowledge of Hawaiian culture, language, and history,
and of astronomy and the scientific investigations taking place on Mauna
`Imiloa features interactive exhibits, planetarium shows, group tours,
a store, a cafe, and a full schedule of events. The center plans to offer
nighttime planetarium shows and talks similar to the AstroTalk series in
Hilo and to the "Malalo I Ka Lani Po" and "The Universe
Tonight" talks held at the Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station.
Peter Michaud, public information and outreach manager for Gemini Observatory,
conducted the first "Sky Tonight at `Imiloa" on May 27 in the
center's top-of-the-line planetarium.
I recently presented a talk on astronomy and astronomy-related jobs
available in Hawai'i to a group of students and teachers from the Na Pua
No'eau (Center for Gifted and Talented Native Hawaiian Children) program
who spent a day at `Imiloa. Kalepa Baybayan, the navigator and captain
of the traditional Hawaiian voyaging canoe Hokualaka`i, and John Hamilton,
an instructor in the UH Hilo Physics and Astronomy Department, also participated
in this day of learning.
`Imiloa will continue to showcase astronomy and Hawaiian culture for
local, regional, and international audiences, and bring together members
of the Hawaiian and astronomy communities. If you get a chance to visit
the center, you will not be disappointed with this world-class tribute
to Mauna Kea.
Paul Coleman is both an IfA astrophysicist and a Native Hawaiian, and
was a content advisor for the center.
For more information on the center: