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Joint Astronomy Centre Outreach - Galileo Block Party

IYA 2009 Galileo Block Party

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 fully involved.

In celebration of IYA 2009 the Galilean Nights 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 appearance.

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 stars).

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 Hawaii.

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)

This Galileo Block Party is one of many IYA 2009 activities developed by the Mauna Kea Observatories Outreach Committee (MKOOC).

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.

The annual AstroDay 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 poster contest for K-12 students, inviting them to create artwork showing astronomy and Hawaiian culture.

In April, many of us participated in the "100 Hours of Astronomy" special webcast, "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. The 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 on our public outreach website. Information on all of MKOOC's IYA activities can be found on the MKOOC website.

Contact: JAC outreach. Updated: Fri May 14 12:43:14 HST 2010

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