Manoa Open House 2006
Making sundials. Photo by Joey Nikaido.
courtyard telescopes. Middle: Ask an Astronomer. Bottom: Phases of
the Moon. Photos by Andrea Szapudi.
About 3,000 people attended the IfA Manoa Open House on April
30. This year, we had several new activities for children, including
the Mars Drop, Make a Constellation, and the Solar System Search,
as well as lectures, demonstrations, and displays for people of all
The Mars Drop was based on NASA's rover missions to Mars,
in which the rovers Spirit and Opportunity were encased in airbags
that cushioned their landings on the red planet. The mission for
the Mars Drop was to design a container out of everyday materials—bubble
wrap, cardboard, balloons, plastic bags—that would keep a raw
egg intact when it was dropped from the IfA's second floor.
Happily (especially for the clean-up crew), most of the young space
engineers succeeded in this mission.
Younger children enjoyed the opportunity to draw a constellation—Ursa
Major, Taurus, Orion, or Canis Major. Those participating received
a sky chart that showed the Honolulu sky at 8 p.m. that evening to
enable them and their parents to find their constellation.
At the Solar System Search table, children and adults learned about
the different sizes of the planets in our solar system with a hands-on
scale model. The young explorers then set out to find the "planets," which
were hidden at scaled distances around the IfA grounds. Collecting
a stamp from each of the hidden planets earned them a special prize.
Adults and children had the opportunity to attend two sets of family
lectures that covered astronomy in Hawaii in the past (King David
Kalakaua's support for astronomy), the present (the new Pan-STARRS
1 telescope on Haleakala), and the future (possibilities for new
observatories in Hawaii), as well as discussions of this year's
total solar eclipse, last year's Deep Impact mission to a comet,
the birth of stars, the origin of Earth's oceans, dark matter
and dark energy, cosmic neutrinos in Antarctica, and killer
asteroids. But perhaps the most exciting "lecture" was
not a lecture at all, but a puppet show, `Ano Lani `Ano Honua, that
connected traditional Hawaiian culture with modern astronomy.