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IfA Receives Funds for Starlab Planetarium

by Joan K. Yanagihara

Victoria Ward, Limited, the owner of Victoria Ward Centers, donated $13,000 to the Institute for Astronomy in December 2001 to purchase a Starlab portable planetarium. This gift followed others given by the Ward Company in recent years to support the Institute's astronomy education and outreach programs.

Said Secretary of the corporation and Ward family member Frank W. Hustace, Jr., "Victoria Ward, Limited is pleased to contribute support to the Institute for Astronomy, as it is one of the most outstanding programs at the University. The Starlab will provide an excellent vehicle to introduce basic astronomy to school students and interested persons around the island of O'ahu, while increasing awareness about astronomy research at UH."

UH astronomy graduate students interested in sharing their knowledge with the public and schoolteachers who have attended the Institute's TOPS (Towards Other Planetary Systems) summer astronomy workshop will receive training in its use so they may operate the Starlab at schools and public venues, such as shopping malls. The planetarium's inflated dome can accommodate up to 35 children or 25 adults at a time. Planets, the Moon, and other night sky objects are projected onto the interior of the dome to show constellations and the movement of planets and stars. The portability of the planetarium will also allow it to travel to the Neighbor Islands.

The IfA's Starlab will be appropriately named for Victoria Ward, Limited.