The International Year of Astronomy (IYA) 2009 has seen a lot of public
outreach activity on the Big Island of Hawai`i, and the Joint Astronomy
Centre, together with the other 12 observatories on Mauna Kea, is
In celebration of IYA 2009 the
was the global event this autumn to
engage the public in astronomy and science.
On Saturday, October 24, the
observatories on Mauna Kea in Hawai`i
organized the Galileo Block
Party in Hilo. Many of JAC's UKIRT
and JCMT staff participated. The
Galileo Block Party was organized by
the Mauna Kea Observatories Outreach
Committee (MKOOC) for the
entire Big Island community. Over a
thousand people were in attendance.
Opening ceremonies began in the
early afternoon on the steps of the
Subaru Telescope base facility with addresses
by County of Hawai`i Mayor Billy
Kenoi, University of Hawai`i at Hilo
Chancellor Rose Tseng, and several
others. Throughout the afternoon,
local school bands performed, and
even Galileo Galilei himself made an
During the afternoon there were
activities at each of the observatory
base facilities. For JAC, these included
an extremely popular asteroid
target practice game, a “guess
the number of stars in a WFCAM image
(of the Galactic centre)” challenge,
an astronomy quiz, the birthday
stars game, a Celestia demo, a
comet demo, an asteroid impact
demo, sorting the solar system, and
various crafts (making comets and
The other participating observatories
also had many family-oriented
fun activities. Participants further included
the Hilo Astronomy Club, the University Astrophysics
Club, Mauna Kea Support Services, Office of
Mauna Kea Management and `Imiloa Astronomy Center of
JAC staff help put our Solar System in the correct order.
(Full size JPG image, 7.4 MB)
JAC staff teach youngsters how to make origami stars.
(Full size JPG image, 6.6 MB)
JAC staff and community members make comets with ping-pong balls and fuzzy yarn.
(Full size JPG image, 5.2 MB)
JAC staff demonstrate the freeware program Celestia, after which the kids get to drive.
(Full size JPG image, 8.3 MB)
Guess how many Milky Way stars are in this UKIRT/WFCAM image showing the Galactic Centre?
(Full size JPG image, 7.2 MB)
Galileo Galilei, as interpreted by a UHH drama student, is paying a visit to JAC during the Block Party.
(Full size JPG image, 6.5 MB)
Announcement flyer for the Galileo Block Party. The painting was one of the winners of this spring's poster contest.
(Full size JPG image, 1.9 MB)
After seeing the craters on the Moon, it is so much fun making your own craters.
A description of this activity can be found on our
Teacher Resource Page under "Lunar Impact Exercise".
(Full size JPG image, 4.7 MB)
JAC staff direct interplanetary artillery in lobbing "asteroids" at planets and moons.
Cool prizes awaited sharp shots. A description of this activity can be found on our
Teacher Resource Page under "Asteroid Target Practice".
(Full size JPG image, 5.2 MB)
Other Hawai`i-based events in support of IYA 2009
Earlier this year, 55 astronomers from the Mauna Kea Observatories
visited schools in the local district during one week in February. The
Journey Through the Universe
is an annual event, which took on extra dimensions because of IYA, in
the form of additional public events in the evenings.
All Mauna Kea Observatories, in collaboration with the local newspapers
Hawai`i Tribune-Herald and West Hawai`i Today, issued a special
newspaper astronomy supplement
on March 1, highlighting all the work that is being done on Mauna Kea.
event at the local mall premiered
astronomy playing cards
featuring images from all the observatories.
In collaboration with a local supermarket, KTA, MKOOC ran a
for K-12 students, inviting them to create
showing astronomy and Hawaiian culture.
In April, many of us participated in the "100 Hours of Astronomy"
"Around the World in 80 Telescopes"
To enhance astronomy resources and knowledge for Big Island K-12 teachers
a special introductory astronomy class has been organized by MKOOC.
Galileo Teacher Class
meets once a month for four hours, and concentrates on fundamentals
of astronomy together with hands-on activities usable for K-12 class rooms.
Information on all of the JAC past and future outreach activities can be found
public outreach website. Information
on all of MKOOC's IYA activities can be found on the