Institute for Astronomy Home
IFA Home Page   |    Search   |    Other Editions    No. 24 - 2007 
  All Articles  


Maikalani Dedication and Open House

by James D. Armstrong


Maikalani, the Advanced Technology Research Center. Photo by Mike Maberry.

For 30 years, IfA operations on Maui were headquartered in a rundown, out-of-the-way ranch house. On September 14, this era ended when Maikalani, the IfA's new Advanced Technology Research Center, officially opened its doors in Pukalani.

The event was marked with a dedication ceremony directed by Assistant Director Mike Maberry, whose work over the last nine years has changed the building from a dream to a reality. At the ceremony, Maberry's remarks focused on the partnerships that have developed over the years, and on the future opportunities that the new building will allow. Another speaker, state Senator Rosalyn Baker added, "It's another part of our effort to provide really good jobs for our local residents." These sentiments were echoed by IfA Director Rolf Kudritzki, Maui Mayor Charmaine Tavares, and UH Regent Marlene Hapai. IfA Associate Director for Maui Jeffrey Kuhn and UH Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education Gary Ostrander also spoke. A blessing by Kahu Charles Kauluwehi Maxwell Sr. concluded the ceremony.

Following the dedication of Maikalani, the IfA opened its doors to the community, the first Maui Institute for Astronomy Open House. Jeff Kuhn gave the inaugural talk, "An Overview of Astronomy on Haleakala." He was followed by Lisa Hunter, who spoke about the Akamai Internship Program developed by the Center for Adaptive Optics at the University of California, Santa Cruz and now part of the IfA's efforts to further educational opportunity on Maui. Solar physicist Ilia Roussev talked about his work modeling coronal mass ejections on the Sun. The new 200-node super computer in Maikalani will be used, in part, to support his work. The final talk was by Joseph Ritter, who described his work with optic-active materials that may someday allow for orbiting telescopes the size of football fields.

Bill Giebink does demonstration.

Bill Giebink's demonstration using liquid nitrogen drew a crowd at the first Maikalani open house on Maui.
Photo by Karen Teramura.

Crowds arrived early, and while no formal count was made, conservative estimates indicate that over 400 people attended. The lectures were packed the entire night, requiring a second run of all talks in the upstairs meeting room. The visitors were also wowed by demonstrations of liquid nitrogen as a coolant, the polarization of light, an infrared photo booth, and interferometry, the use of the interference of light to measure the shape of optics with great precision and to take spectral measurements of the Sun.

The public also enjoyed an interactive talk by Cynthia Giebink, a member of the team that will be deploying their instrument at the South Pole this November to investigate sound waves in the solar atmosphere. People also waited in lines to look through several telescopes brought by the Haleakala Amateur Astronomers. With the assistance of HAA President Rob Ratkowski and members Thomas Ingalls and Casey Fukuda, we were able to show the public the wonders of the night sky.

The opening of Maikalani marks the beginning of a new future for astronomy on Maui. The building will enhance IfA's research capability, and also its capacity for education, outreach, and greater involvement with the community.