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AstroDay 2K2: A Fun Day for All and the Start of a New Tradition

by Gary Fujihara, Subaru Telescope Operator and AstroDay Organizer

A young visitor to Hilo's AstroDay exits the portable SkyLab planetarium.

Beautiful sunny skies in Hilo welcomed AstroDay 2K2, held at the Prince Kuhio Plaza on Saturday, April 20, 2002. Sponsored by the Hilo Astronomy Club, AstroDay is the Big Island version of Astronomy Day, an event held annually at thousands of locations worldwide since 1973.

This was the inaugural AstroDay fair, and the largest event of its kind in the State of Hawaii. To help the celebration, Governor Ben Cayetano had signed a proclamation officially making April 20, 2002, AstroDay.

The purpose of AstroDay is to bring astronomy to the people. What better place than a shopping mall? Many people never have a chance to go up to Mauna Kea and see what kind of research goes on. A second aim of AstroDay is to inspire young people to become interested in science, extend their education, and thereby achieve employment here at home.

Over twenty exhibitors filled the entire mall. There were representatives from every observatory on Mauna Kea, educational institutions, other astronomy-related groups, and Hawaiian cultural organizations. Gemini Observatory put on planetarium shows, the Institute for Astronomy demonstrated an infrared camera, and many speakers came from IfA and the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

One of the most popular booths was the Kids Corner. Children of all ages flocked there for astronomy-related games and activities. A comet-making kitchen gave the children a recipe for making their own comets.

Students represented many schools, from elementary through high school. Science projects by local intermediate and high school students were on display. Many of them had represented their district at the State Science Fair on Oahu. The exhibit of Kaumana Elementary School sixth graders was a big crowd favorite. The students provided information about impact craters and meteorites, and displayed actual Moon rocks.

Over $4,000 worth of prizes was given away throughout the day through lucky number drawings and "Sky-Q" quizzes. The prizes ranged from mouse pads, T-shirts, posters, and calendars to a pair of telescopes. A Meade 122-millimeter Newtonian telescope with computerized mount and an Orion 90-millimeter Maksutov Cassegrain telescope with mount were the first and second prizes, respectively.

For more information, visit the AstroDay Web site.


Making comets was one of the most popular activities for children.

  AstroDay Organizer Gary Fujihara gives first prize winner Kerry Darris of Ookala a Meade 122-milli-meter Newtonian telescope with computerized mount. Photo by Bill Gorman.