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The IfA Wish List

Children at IfA Open House

Children at IfA Manoa Open House. Photo by Nancy Lyttle.

The Friends of the IfA strive to support the outreach, education, and research missions of the Institute through donations, events, and volunteerism. To expand these efforts, IfA faculty and staff have created a wish list of items that would strongly benefit our outreach and education programs. The items listed here are the most difficult to purchase with state funds or federal grants. If you are interested in providing a donation to fund, in full or in part, any of these items, please contact us at friends@ifa.hawaii.edu. We would love to speak with you.

Camera mounts for lab/outreach telescopes, $500: Capturing an image of a celestial object through a telescope truly personalizes the astronomy experience. It is now possible to mount an inexpensive digital camera on a telescope eyepiece and take remarkable images of planets, the Moon, and other objects. A set of such mounts would allow our undergraduate lab students and members of the public at stargazing events to take their astronomy experiences home with them.

StarLab portable planetarium upgrade and maintenance for five years, $1,500: The StarLab is taken to dozens of K–12 schools every year by IfA graduate students who volunteer their time and expertise. We would like to continue and even expand this program.

Portable high-resolution LCD projector, $2,000: The beauty of astronomy is conveyed through magnificent images taken with telescopes. Unfortunately, the current LCD projectors used in our classes and at outreach events provide only low-resolution images with poor contrast. A high-contrast, high-resolution projector would allow us to share our splendid images with a broader audience.

Components for, upgrades to, and maintenance of outreach telescopes for five years, $2,500: The IfA has six telescopes that are used for undergraduate lab classes and public stargazing events. These telescopes, the most fundamental of our outreach tools, require periodic maintenance, new eyepieces, and other accessories. Some need cases and tripods to be fully usable.

CCD camera and laptop, $3,500: Modern astronomy uses digital imaging to observe astronomical objects. A portable setup with a CCD camera and a laptop would allow us to capture images of deep sky objects invisible to the unaided eye and thus provide a more authentic astronomy experience for our lab students.

Thermal infrared camera, $4,500: This camera will be used to demonstrate that what we perceive as heat is really light at infrared wavelengths that are invisible to the human eye. It will be used to demonstrate that the electromagnetic spectrum contains far more information than we perceive, and to show how the temperatures of celestial objects can be measured.

Portable spectroscopy demonstration kit, with laptop, USB spectrograph, gas lamps, and accessories, $5,000: This setup will allow us to expand K–12 outreach and education from the night sky via the StarLab to the basic physics of light. Carried in a single case, this setup would allow students to explore how we use spectroscopy to determine what stars, planets, and galaxies are made of. This kit could also be used in our astronomy labs.

Extended-length van, $40,000: A full-size van with an extended body could transport 12 students and the six telescopes to dark locations for outdoor observing. Today, we rely on having enough students with their own vehicles to permit undergraduate lab classes to observe. This van, when used with an existing IfA minivan, would alleviate the need for most personal vehicles and ensure that students would be able to engage in hands-on time with the telescopes.

www.ifa.hawaii.edu/friends/