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Big Island Happenings

block party crowd

comet-making activity at block party


Top: Many people attended the Galileo Block Party on October 24. Bottom: Children enjoyed the comet-making activity sponsored by the Joint Astronomy Centre at the Block Party.  

Galileo Block Party

As part of the International Year of Astronomy, the Galileo Block Party was held on October 24 at "astronomy row" in the University Park of Science and Technology on the campus of the University of Hawaii at Hilo (UHH). Most of the observatories on Mauna Kea, the UHH Physics and Astronomy Department, `Imiloa Astronomy Center, and amateur astronomy groups participated in the five-hour event. Astronomer Bobby Bus, the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility, and IfA Science Education and Public Outreach Officer Gary Fujihara represented IfA with Fujihara's meteorite exhibit and Bus's research in spectroscopic properties of asteroid families and their population distribution.

Waimea Solar System Walk

On September 26, the first-ever Waimea planet walk took place on the Big Island between the headquarters of Keck Observatory and that of the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, a distance of about a half a mile. Astronomers set up booths with information about the eight major planets and Pluto and the other Kuiper Belt objects. Models of the planets showed their relative size.

Solar system explorers were given a planetary passport to complete. Those that visited all the planets earned a free ticket to `Imiloa Astronomy Center.

Hawaii Astronomy Community Fulfills Child's Dream

The Big Island astronomy community worked together to fulfill a dream for Make-A-Wish child Paul Kobyluch Jr. of Salem, New York, who visited Hawaii with his parents. At the Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station (Paul is too young to ascend to the summit), IfA Science Education and Public Outreach Officer Gary Fujihara gave a brief show-and-tell about meteorites, Mary Beth Laychak (Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope) presented an edible asteroid activity, and Inge Heyer (Joint Astronomy Centre) brought a Galileoscope and helped Paul assemble it. After the activities, they gave Paul gifts from the Mauna Kea astronomy community, then went to Hale Pohaku for dinner.

Make-a-Wish Child

Paul Kobyluch Jr. (second from left) and his parents with IfA Outreach Officer Gary Fujihara and CFHT's Mary Beth Laychak (on the right) outside the Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station.