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IfA Manoa Open House April 23rd

Join us at our Manoa Headquarters on April 23rd, from 11am-4pm, for a day of family-friendly activities and talks!

Digitalis planetarium - Talks - LEGO activities - Comet making - VR Sandbox - Wind tunnel - Bottle rockets - Model solar system - Sundials - Ask an Astronomer - Infrared camera - Solar telescopes - Rubens tube - Fresnel lens - 3D gallery - Astrophotography - and more!
Free admission and free parking

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IfA 50th Anniversary Celebration This Summer

The UH Institute for Astronomy celebrates its 50th Anniversary with a special three-day meeting in Honolulu from June 28-30, 2017. Everyone with a history or relationship with the IfA is invited to attend, including former and present graduate students, postdocs, staff and faculty.

Event Information


April 11, 2017: Hawaii-built Infrared Instrument for World's Largest Solar Telescope Catches its First Rays

The Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST), currently under construction on Haleakala, Maui, is expected to start observing the Sun in 2020. When it does, it will rely on two complex infrared instruments being built by the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy (IfA). Their goal is to measure the Sun's weak magnetic field. The first of these to be completed is called the Cryogenic Near-Infrared Spectropolarimeter (CryoNIRSP). In a major milestone, it took its first look at the Sun from the laboratories at the IfA's Advanced Technology Research Center on Maui.

Press Release


March 16, 2017: In Memoriam: Tobias Owen

The IfA mourns the loss of our long-time faculty member and professor emeritus Toby Owen. Tobias (Toby) C. Owen, passed away on March 4, 2017, in Sacramento, California, where he had been living after retiring from the IfA in 2012.

Obituary, by Alan Tokunaga


January 30, 2017: Newly Discovered Intergalactic Void Repels Milky Way

In a groundbreaking study published in Nature Astronomy, a team of researchers, including Brent Tully from the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy, reports the discovery of a previously unknown, nearly empty region in our extragalactic neighborhood. Largely devoid of galaxies, this void exerts a repelling force, pushing our Local Group of galaxies through space.

Press Release


January 13, 2017: IfA Astronomer Receives Royal Astronomical Society's Highest Award

IfA Astronomer Nick Kaiser has been awarded the Gold Medal in Astronomy by the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). The Medal's past recipients include Albert Einstein, Edwin Hubble, Arthur Eddington and Stephen Hawking. Dr. Kaiser is receiving the award for his extensive theoretical and observational work on cosmology, including how matter - both dark and visible - is distributed on the largest scales.

Press Release


December 19, 2016: Pan-STARRS Releases Largest Digital Sky Survey to the World

The Pan-STARRS project at the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy is publicly releasing the world's largest digital sky survey today, via the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland.

Press Release


December 15, 2016: Ice is Everywhere on the Dwarf Planet Ceres

At first glance, Ceres, the largest body in the main asteroid belt, may not look icy. Images from NASA's Dawn spacecraft have revealed a dark, heavily cratered world whose brightest area is made of highly reflective salts -- not ice. But newly published studies from Dawn scientists, including University of Hawaii astronomer Norbert Schörghofer, show two distinct lines of evidence for ice at or near the surface of the dwarf planet. These findings, which verify predictions made by scientists formerly at UH, are being presented at the 2016 American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco, California.

Press Release


December 12, 2016: Giving the Sun a Brake

Astronomers from the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy (IfA), Brazil, and Stanford University may have solved a long-standing solar mystery. Two decades ago, scientists discovered that the outer five percent of the Sun spins more slowly than the rest of its interior. Now, in a new study to be published in the journal Physical Review Letters, IfA Maui scientists Ian Cunnyngham, Jeff Kuhn, and Isabelle Scholl, together with Marcelo Emilio (Brazil) and Rock Bush (Stanford), describe the physical mechanism responsible for slowing the Sun's outer layers.

Press Release


Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016 - Free Frontiers of Astronomy Talk

"A Magnificent Celestial Show in 2017: The August 21 Total Solar Eclipse in North America " with IfA astronomer Shadia Habbal, 7:30 p.m., UH Mānoa Art Building Auditorium (room 132). Free Admission (Campus Parking $6). Poster

One of nature's most spectacular celestial sights is the magnificent solar corona, visible only during a total solar eclipse. On August 21, 2017, the moon's shadow will sweep across the entire United States from Oregon to South Carolina over a span of approximately 90 minutes. Everyone in the 48 contiguous states and Alaska will witness at least a partial solar eclipse. Those directly under the moon's 60 mile-wide shadow will have 2 minutes of totality - one of life's most awesome experiences. Learn why people become eclipse chasers, traveling the world to enjoy their beauty - and do some science.

Join us Friday, Oct. 7, 2016 for the IfA Maui Open House

The annual IfA Maui Open House will be held Friday, Oct. 7, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Maikalani building in Pukalani, Maui. Free Admission. Flier

September 15, 2016: Hubble Takes Close-up Look at Disintegrating Comet

Comet 332P/Ikeya-Murakami survived for 4.5 billion years in the frigid Kuiper Belt, a vast reservoir of icy bodies on the outskirts of our solar system. But within the last few million years, the unlucky comet was gravitationally kicked to the inner solar system by the outer planets - and this new home, closer to the sun, has doomed the comet. The Hubble Space Telescope caught the latest cloud of debris ejected by Comet 332P. The images, taken over three days in January 2016, represent one of the sharpest, most detailed observations of a comet breaking apart. The doomed comet may disintegrate in only 150 years.

Press Release


August 3, 2016: Planets With the Highest Likelihood of Harboring Life Identified

A team of astronomers known as the Kepler Habitable Zone Working Group, including University of Hawai'i Institute for Astronomy astronomer Nader Haghighipour, has identified which of the more than 4,000 exoplanets discovered by the NASA Kepler mission are most likely to be similar to our rocky home.

Press Release


July 27, 2016: Jupiter's Great Red Spot Heats Planet's Upper Atmosphere

Researchers from Boston University's (BU) Center for Space Physics, using data from the Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) on Maunakea, Hawaii, report today in Nature that Jupiter's Great Red Spot may provide the mysterious source of energy required to heat the planet's upper atmosphere to the unusually high temperatures observed.

Press Release


July 18, 2016: Hawaii Astronomers and Telescopes Haul in One Hundred New Planets

An international team of astronomers has discovered more than 100 new extrasolar planets using data from the Kepler Space Telescope. The planets were confirmed and characterized by a suite of ground-based telescopes, including four telescopes on Maunakea. Six astronomers from the University of Hawaii (UH) contributed to the international team of 44 scientists from seven countries.

Press Release


July 13, 2016: Stellar Outburst Brings Water Snowline into View

A violent outburst by the young star V883 Orionis has given astronomers their first view of a water "snowline" in a protoplanetary disk - the transition point around the star where the temperature and pressure are low enough for water ice to form. The team making this discovery was led by Lucas Cieza, a former Sagan Fellow at IfA, and includes IfA astronomer Jonatham Williams.

NRAO Press Release


July 8, 2016: UH-led Team Uses Dawn Mission To Identify Icy Craters on Ceres

Might the dwarf planet Ceres have permanent ice deposits? Using NASA's Dawn mission, a team led by Norbert Schorghofer, an astronomer at the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy, has identified permanently shadowed regions on the dwarf planet Ceres. Most of these areas likely have been cold enough to trap water ice for a billion years, suggesting that ice deposits could exist there now.

Press Release


June 16, 2016: Newly discovered asteroid is Earth's companion

Astronomers at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa's Institute for Astronomy discovered a small asteroid that has been in an orbit around the sun that keeps it as a constant companion of Earth. The asteroid, designated 2016 HO3, was detected in April by the Pan-STARRS telescope on Haleakala, and subsequent research into Pan-STARRS archives revealed faint images of it as far back as 2011.

Press Release


June 13, 2016: Largest, Widest Orbit "Tatooine" Bolsters Planet Formation Theories

A team of astronomers, including University of Hawaii astronomer Nader Haghighipour, will announce on June 13 the discovery of an unusual new transiting circumbinary planet (orbiting two suns). This planet, detected using the Kepler spacecraft, is unusual because it is both the largest such planet found to date, and has the widest orbit.

Press Release


May 25, 2016: Are Black Holes the Dark Matter?

A recent publication suggests that black holes, like the ones discovered by LIGO, are the mysterious dark matter. Have these left their imprint on the diffuse X-ray and inrared background radiation of the Universe? A team lead by UH researchers aims to find out.

UH News Article


Back from the Deep Freeze: A Piece of the Early Solar System Returns

Astronomers have found a unique object that appears to be made of inner Solar System material from the time of Earth's formation, which has been preserved in the Oort Cloud for billions of years. Originally identified by the University of Hawaii's Pan-STARRS1 telescope, C/2014 S3 (PANSTARRS) is a weakly active comet a little over twice as far from the Sun as the Earth. Its current long orbital period (around 860 years) suggests that its source is in the Oort Cloud, and it was nudged comparatively recently into an orbit that brings it closer to the Sun.

Press Release


IfA Manoa Open House April 17th

Join us at our Manoa Headquarters on April 17th, 11am-4p, from for a day of family-friendly activities and talks!

Starlab planetarium - Talks - LEGO activities - Comet making - Cratering - Wind tunnel - Bottle rockets - Model solar system - Sundials - Ask an Astronomer - Infrared camera - Solar telescopes - Rubens tube - Daytime Venus viewing - 3D gallery - Astrophotography - and more!
Free admission and free parking

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In memoriam: Gerry Luppino

We grieve the untimely death of former IfA astronomer Gerard Anthony "Gerry" Luppino. A memorial service will be held on April 2. Read Dr. Hasinger's tribute to Gerry.



Mystery of Disappearing Asteroids Solved

Ever since it was realized that asteroid and comet impacts are a real and present danger to the survival of life on Earth, it was thought that most of those objects end their existence in a dramatic final plunge into the Sun. A new study published on Thursday in the journal Nature finds instead that most of those objects are destroyed in a drawn out, long hot fizzle, much farther from the Sun than previously thought. This surprising new discovery explains several puzzling observations that have been reported in recent years.

Press Release


Pan-STARRS Chases Source of LIGO Gravity Wave Event

The email came in the night on Sept 15.  A significant event had happened at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, or LIGO, during their engineering run. A ripple in spacetime had occurred somewhere in the universe. But where? LIGO had not yet started their formal observing run, and with only two Gravity Wave detectors, they could not pinpoint where in the sky, amongst billions and billions of galaxies, the source of this disturbance had occurred.

If "sparks" fly when black holes merge then a new point of light will be seen in the sky. Pan-STARRS, with its powerful surveying capability, can rapidly map the region of the sky identified by LIGO, compare it to the previous map, and find anything that has changed.

Press Release


UH Researchers Shed New Light on the Origins of Earth’s Water

Water covers more than two-thirds of Earth’s surface, but its exact origins are still something of a mystery. Scientists have long been uncertain whether water was present at the formation of the planet, or if it arrived later, perhaps carried by comets and meteorites. Now researchers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, using advanced ion-microprobe instrumentation, have found evidence that Earth’s water was a part of our planet from the beginning.

Press Release


Main-Belt Asteroid Shows Evidence of March Collision

The main-belt asteroid (493) Griseldis was probably hit by another object last March. The results were reported on November 12 at the annual meeting of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society near Washington, DC.

Press Release


Maunakea Observatories and ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center to give free observatory tours to Hawai‘i residents

The Kama‘āina Observatory Experience, presented by Maunakea Observatories and ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center, is a free monthly community event that seeks to inspire a passion for astronomy and an appreciation for the cultural and environmental future of Maunakea among Hawai‘i residents. It will launch in early 2016. Participation is free and open to all Hawai‘i residents. Tours will be open once a month to individuals 16 and older with a valid Hawai‘i ID. Registration is required and will be available via this website on a first come, first served basis.




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