Institute for Astronomy Home
IFA Home Page   |    Search   |    Other Editions    No. 40 - 2011 
  All Articles  


Stargazing with Stars Above Hawaii and the IfA

by Donna Bebber, IfA Events Coordinator


Friends of the IfA gathered on July 23 to stargaze at Ko Olina.
Photo by Barbara Kreiss-Hasinger.

One of the most anticipated IfA outreach events is the stargazing show at Ko Olina Resort, a collaboration between Stars Above Hawaii and the IfA. These stargazing parties are held at least once a year near the fourth lagoon at Ko Olina Resort. In addition to the loyal friends of IfA, the residents and guests of the Ko Olina Resort regularly take part in this event. Participants generally meet prior to sunset for a potluck dinner, and then watch and wait for the green flash at sunset, an occurrence we have yet to see.

The most recent stargazing party took place under a beautiful and clear night sky on July 23. More than 100 supporters of IfA attended. We were able to see Saturn, its ring system, and moons just after sunset. The Milky Way is visible during summer evenings, and we took full advantage of this opportunity to view the glittering lights of billions of stars and glowing gas at the center of our galaxy. With 11 telescopes, each staffed by an IfA graduate student or knowledgeable amateur astronomer, we were able to see an astonishing collection of star clusters and nebulae (stellar nurseries), including objects like the Butterfly Star Cluster and the Lagoon Nebula. In addition, participants were able to take the laser light tour that explains the names of the stars in the Hawaiian language and gives an overview of how the Polynesians navigated by the stars. This event gave the participants an excellent opportunity to interact with students and faculty from the IfA.

 Greg McCartney, owner of Stars Above Hawaii, is a strong and active supporter and Friend of the IfA. Stars Above Hawaii is in its fourth year of providing world-class professional star show programs. McCartney is dedicated to sharing his knowledge of both the skies above Hawai‘i and Polynesian navigation. His company strives to provide a first-class viewing experience for local residents and visitors to our state.

If you are interested in receiving notices about future stargazing events, please make sure you are on our email list by sending an email to, or you can check the Friends of IfA website. Those who make a donation to support the outreach activities of IfA and provide us with an email address will automatically receive notice of all outreach programs offered by the IfA.