AstroDay 2K2: A Fun Day for All and the Start of a New Tradition
by Gary Fujihara, Subaru Telescope Operator and AstroDay Organizer
A young visitor to Hilo's AstroDay exits the
portable SkyLab planetarium.
Beautiful sunny skies in Hilo welcomed AstroDay 2K2, held at the Prince Kuhio
Plaza on Saturday, April 20, 2002. Sponsored by the Hilo Astronomy Club, AstroDay
is the Big Island version of Astronomy Day, an event held annually at thousands
of locations worldwide since 1973.
This was the inaugural AstroDay fair, and the largest event of its kind in
the State of Hawaii. To help the celebration, Governor Ben Cayetano had signed
a proclamation officially making April 20, 2002, AstroDay.
The purpose of AstroDay is to bring astronomy to the people. What better place
than a shopping mall? Many people never have a chance to go up to Mauna Kea
and see what kind of research goes on. A second aim of AstroDay is to inspire
young people to become interested in science, extend their education, and thereby
achieve employment here at home.
Over twenty exhibitors filled the entire mall. There were representatives from
every observatory on Mauna Kea, educational institutions, other astronomy-related
groups, and Hawaiian cultural organizations. Gemini Observatory put on planetarium
shows, the Institute for Astronomy demonstrated an infrared camera, and many
speakers came from IfA and the University of Hawaii at Hilo.
One of the most popular booths was the Kids Corner. Children of all ages flocked
there for astronomy-related games and activities. A comet-making kitchen gave
the children a recipe for making their own comets.
Students represented many schools, from elementary through high school. Science
projects by local intermediate and high school students were on display. Many
of them had represented their district at the State Science Fair on Oahu. The
exhibit of Kaumana Elementary School sixth graders was a big crowd favorite.
The students provided information about impact craters and meteorites, and displayed
actual Moon rocks.
Over $4,000 worth of prizes was given away throughout the day through lucky
number drawings and "Sky-Q" quizzes. The prizes ranged from mouse
pads, T-shirts, posters, and calendars to a pair of telescopes. A Meade 122-millimeter
Newtonian telescope with computerized mount and an Orion 90-millimeter Maksutov
Cassegrain telescope with mount were the first and second prizes, respectively.
For more information, visit the AstroDay
Making comets was one of the most popular activities
||AstroDay Organizer Gary Fujihara gives
first prize winner Kerry Darris of Ookala a Meade 122-milli-meter Newtonian
telescope with computerized mount. Photo by Bill Gorman.