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Friends Enjoy Many Astronomy Activities

The Friends of the Institute for Astronomy (FIfA), formerly Friends of Hawaii Astronomy, has made great strides in the past year. Membership has quadrupled to about 110 members, and over $170,000 in donations has been received. The mission of FIfA is to foster community involvement and support for the research and teaching activities of the Institute, to assist in the dissemination of IfA-related information to the general public, and to develop private funding resources to fulfill this mission.

FIfA funds have gone to support a film for television broadcast by astronomer Brent Tully, as well as graduate student recruitment and public outreach activities. The latter include the popular Frontiers of Astronomy Community Lectures and the yearly Open House in Manoa.

There have also been a number of activities just for members of FIfA, including presentation of the television program "Bye Bye Pluto" with IfA Pluto experts David Jewitt and David Tholen, a lecture about light pollution by astronomer Richard Wainscoat, and an evening of talks by three IfA graduate students, Trent Dupuy, Steven Rodney, and Mark Willman. In February, Friends toured the W. M. Keck Cosmochemistry Laboratory at UH Manoa. It features a new ion microprobe used to study meteorites, interplanetary dust particles, and samples returned by NASA missions. Future FIfA activities will include a workshop on Mauna Kea next summer.

Astronomer Robert Jedicke took over as coordinator of FIfA about a year ago. He now works with a committee that includes Associate Director Robert McLaren, astronomer Gareth Wynn-Williams, and Karen Toyama, a secretary in the Director's Office. The Friends Council, consisting of 12 active members of FIfA, is helping to plan events, to develop the FIfA website, and to document the history of the IfA.

If you are interested in joining FIfA, go to http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/friends/, send an e-mail to fifa@ifa.hawaii.edu, or call (808) 956-6665. Memberships start at $25 for students, $50 for other individuals, and $100 for families.

Friends of the IfA attended a reception with NASA astronaut Ed Lu (left) at the UH Manoa Art Building before the January Frontiers of Astronomy Community Lecture, "Killer Asteroids . . . and what can we do about them."