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'Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai'i Opens in Hilo

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A new era in astronomy education and outreach was ushered in with the opening of the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai‘i in Hilo, Hawai‘i. The unique 40,000-square-foot facility blends Hawaiian culture with the science of astronomy, using interactive exhibits, multi-media theaters and a state-of-the-art planetarium. The $28 million (U.S.) center was funded primarily through NASA and is located directly across from Gemini’s Hilo Base Facility on the University of Hawaii Hilo - Science and Technology Park.

Gemini has been participating in the development of the center on many levels, from supplying content advisors to making the loan of our unused summit console for use in a Gemini-developed Virtual Observatory exhibit. Discussions are well underway to establish multiple partnerships with the center to leverage with Gemini’s local outreach and education programming.

As part of the nine-day public preview events in mid-February, a fundraising dinner paid tribute to Senator Daniel K. Inouye who spearheaded the funding of the center. Keynote speaker for the dinner, Dr. Earl Bakken, inventor of the pace-maker and founder of Medronics Inc., provided his view on the importance of the center. “We need to get young people dreaming about the future and the ‘Imiloa Center will do that...” said Dr. Bakken, who donated $500,000 to the operation of the center. (see links to Dr. Bakken’s comments below...)

On Tuesday, February 21 the center was dedicated and dignitaries from the Hawaiian community and Mauna Kea observatories shared thoughts and insights on the impact that the center would have on Hawaii’s youth. Master Polynesian Navigator Nainoa Thompson who spoke at the dedication ceremony said, "‘Imiloa to me is a special place, a center... where we integrate values, where the cornerstone of those values is the importance of exploration..." 

Look for more details on ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center and the partnerships planned for Gemini’s PIO program in the upcoming June issue of GeminiFocus.

More information on the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center can be found on their website here

Experience The Podcast


Nainoa Thompson Video

Excerpt from 'Imiloa Astronomy Center inaugeration featuring Nainoa Thompson.

MPEG4 Video | 850kb

‘Imiloa exhibits on traditional Polynesian voyaging and exploration are adjacent to displays on the science of modern astronomy.

‘Imiloa exhibits on traditional Polynesian voyaging and exploration are adjacent to displays on the science of modern astronomy.

Photo of a group of people using the former Gemini North control console.

The Gemini "Virtual Observatory" uses the former Gemini North control console to feature the Gemini Virtual Tour, live views of the Mauna Kea summit area, sample control screens and astronomical images.

Picture of the Astronomy exhibits at ‘Imiloa.

Astronomy exhibits at ‘Imiloa (note that the Gemini Virtual Observatory exhibit is inside the dome in background).

Picture of Nainoa Thompson speaking at the dedication ceremony on February 21, 2006.

Nainoa Thompson speaks at the dedication ceremony on February 21, 2006.  See links to left to hear a full podcast and excerpts from his comments.

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