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Jun 12 18

Maunakea Skies Talk Series: Gemini Telescope

by Imiloa Astronomy Center
Things That Go Bang in the Night – Gemini Observatory’s Past, Present and Future in “Time Domain” Astronomy
Friday, June 15 at 7:00pm
Presented By – Andy Adamson
Andy is Associate Director for Operations at the International Gemini Observatory, which operates two of the world’s largest astronomical telescopes – one on Maunakea, Hawaii, and one on Cerro Pachon in Chile. He has been with Gemini for about 8 years, prior to which he was the Associate Director for Science Operations at the UK Infrared Telescope, also based on Maunakea. His research field is the study of interstellar dust and molecules.
The Gemini telescope on Maunakea is one of the two largest open-access US astronomical telescope operating at visual and infrared wavelengths (the other is the other Gemini telescope, in Chile). Come learn more about the “two telescopes, one observatory” concept, which was originally coined back in the 1990s to describe the way we do astronomy on behalf our our international partnership, but in the 2020s will become a key to opening fully the time domain in astronomy. Hear highlights from the past year, including how Gemini contributed to observing the neutron-star merger gravitational wave event in August and the “interstellar interloper” asteroid `Oumuamua in January. Both of these events point the way to how Gemini will be enabling exciting science in the 2020s, when a new telescope opening next door to the Gemini South telescope in Chile will produce something like 10 million “alerts” (to things that go bang in the night) every single night!
Tickets: $10 ($8 for Members). Only at ʻImiloa.
May 31 18

Maunakea Skies Talk Series: Striking Gold with Gravitational Waves

by Imiloa Astronomy Center


FRIDAY, JUNE 1st at 7:00PM

Where was gold born in the universe? Come learn about the rapid neutron capture reaction (r-process) and how the merging of neutron stars, so-called “kilonovas”, could provide the answer.

On August 17, 2017, for the first time in human history, gravitational waves from the coalescence of neutron stars were detected by state-of-the-art gravitational wave detectors LIGO and Virgo. This event, named GW 170817, was immediately followed by follow-up observations with various kinds of telescopes around the world, and its electromagnetic counterpart was detected with wide range of electromagnetic waves from gamma rays to radio. It became the first example of successful cooperative observation of gravitational waves and electromagnetic waves, which also enabled us to open up a new window of “multi-messenger astronomy”. The follow-up observations of optical and infrared band were performed using many telescopes, including the Subaru Telescope. Astronomers have found evidence from the observations that huge quantities of heavy elements were produced in the explosion (kilonova) associated with GW 170817. Most of the generated heavy elements were thought to be r-process elements including gold, platinum, or uranium. Did astronomers finally identify the birthplace of gold?

Hosted by Planetarium Technician Emily Peavy, ‘Imiloa’s monthly Maunakea Skies program includes observational highlights of the current night sky over Hawai‘i, with the audience able to view prominent constellations and stars visible during this time of year.


Tickets: $10 ($8 for Members)

May 14 18

Maunakea Skies Talk Series: Subaru Telescope

by Imiloa Astronomy Center

Observatory Backstage Pass: Meet and Greet with Subaru Telescope


FRIDAY, MAY 18TH at 7:00PM
What is it like to work at 14,000ft?  Shoveling snow, maintaining equipment in 300 below-zero degree temperatures, and mounting a three-ton camera atop a telescope are some of the amazing and unusual things you might do working at Subaru Telescope.  Astronomers make up only 20% of observatory staff.  It’s mostly technicians and engineers that keep things going!
Come meet Subaru’s staff on May 18 at Maunakea Skies at ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center to get a “behind the scenes” look at the observatory. Engineers, technicians, and educators at Subaru Telescope will share their experiences, challenges, and triumphs, and the astronomical discoveries they made along the way.  Four presenters — Kiaina Schubert (Senior System Administrator), Timothy Castro (Summit Technical Supervisor), Matthew Wung (Instrumentation/Electronics Technician), and Yuko Kakazu (Public Outreach Specialist) — will take you “backstage” at Subaru Telescope.   We will then explore the Universe using the first dataset from the Hyper Suprime-Cam Subaru Strategic Plan. Hyper Suprime-Cam is a groundbreaking giant digital camera with a total of 870 million pixels and an extremely wide field of view.  Using enormous amount of data – over 80 terabytes – we will navigate the Universe and show discoveries made on Maunakea.
Kiaina Schubert (Senior System Administrator) Graduate of St. Joseph High School and UH Hilo
Timothy Castro (Summit Technical Supervisor) Graduate of Hilo High School and Hawaii Community College
Matthew Wung (Instrumentation/Electronics Technician)  Graduate of Waiakea High School and Hawaii Community College
Yuko Kakazu (Subaru Public Outreach Specialist) Native Okinawan, Gradate of University of Hawaii, Institute for Astronomy (Ph.D.)

Tickets: $10 ($8 for Members). Only at ʻImiloa.

Apr 27 18

Hōkūleʻa Visits Hilo

by Imiloa Astronomy Center

Mahalo to the crew, staff and everyone who came out to support the Hōkūleʻa and all that she sails for! A hui hou!

















Apr 25 18

Maunakea Skies – Simulating Life on Mars

by Imiloa Astronomy Center


Calum Hervieu in space suit

Calum Hervieu photo

Simulating Life  on Mars… On Maunaloa

Join us Friday, May 4 at 7:00pm for ‘Imiloa’s Maunakea Skies talk with Dr. Brian Shiro, Geology Lead at HI-SEAS

Tucked away on the northern flank of Maunaloa overlooking Maunakea is a white domed structure where NASA is studying what it takes to live on Mars. This is the Hawai‘i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) program, which is aimed at researching issues related to how crews will function on long-duration missions to Mars. HI-SEAS creates missions and recruits crewmembers who live in the Mars-like habitat for periods ranging from four to twelve months, in order to better understand the planet’s living conditions.

During HI-SEAS missions, some of the crew’s activities require them to leave the habitat and conduct Extra-Vehicular Activities (EVAs) while wearing simulated space suits to approximate the encumbrances astronauts would face while exploring the surface of Mars. This helps to identify and test best practices for future field explorations on the surface of Mars. Funded by NASA, these missions also include supervision by a remote support team via an imposed 40-minute round trip communications delay, replicating real Mars-like communication conditions. Dr. Shiro will take you through the day-to-day life of a HI-SEAS mission and what it’s like learning to live on Mars!

As a collaborator on this project since 2012, Dr. Shiro leads the development, assignment and evaluation of geological field tasks given to the HI-SEAS crews to gauge their team performance under realistic mission constraints. He has experience in over a dozen field expeditions from the Arctic to the Antarctic and many tropical destinations in-between. He spent over 60 days aboard research vessels mapping the seafloor and served on two simulated Mars mission crews in Canada and Utah. He received his B.A. in Integrated Science, Geology and Physics from Northwestern University, an M.A. in Earth and Planetary Sciences from Washington University and an M.S. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, where he applies geophysical exploration techniques to study lava tubes, seamounts and subsurface resources that could support life on other planets.

And… addition to our speaker, special arrangements have been made for Calum Hervieu, an astronaut-in-training, to share his story with us! An astrophysicist and systems engineer from rural Scotland, Calum was a crew member on Mission 6 and will be on Mission 7 as well.  Enjoy learning all about his mission experience and get answers to your questions!


‘Imiloa is excited to feature two Maunakea Skies programs in the month of May. Hosted by Planetarium Technician Emily Peavy, ‘Imiloa’s monthly Maunakea Skies program includes observational highlights of the current night sky over Hawai‘i, with the audience able to view prominent constellations and stars visible during this time of year. An additional Maunakea Skies planetarium presentation will be held on Friday, May 18 at 7:00 p.m. Visit for details. General admission tickets are $10, $8 for members (member level discounts apply). Pre-purchase tickets at ‘Imiloa’s front desk or by phone at 808-932-8901.

Mar 31 18

Hōkūle‘a Mahalo Hawai‘i Sail

by Imiloa Astronomy Center

The iconic Hawaiian double-hulled sailing canoe, Hōkūle’a, will be coming to Hilo on its Mahalo Hawai’i Sail and presenting a free public event (canoe tour and education expo) on Saturday, April 21st, from 9am – 5pm at the Wailoa Harbor.

The Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS) has embarked on a six-month statewide journey to express its mahalo to numerous segments of the communities throughout Hawai’i for their tremendous support of the three-year Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage from 2014 to 2017.  Another purpose of the Mahalo Hawai’i Sail is to reach out to thousands of schoolchildren across the state, offering canoe tours and hands-on educational activities that showcase ocean navigation through the lenses of science, math, culture and conservation.

The first half of the voyaging canoe’s statewide mission took place from August through October, 2017. On March 24 of this year, Hōkūle’a resumed its Mahalo Hawai’i Sail and departed O‘ahu (Sand Island) for Hawai’i Island, where it will be docked at various ports for two months.

“Planning and implementing this ambitious Mahalo Hawai’i Sail project is exciting and rewarding, and would not have been possible without the assistance of many people from different segments of our community,” said Kālepa Baybayan, ‘Imiloa’s Navigator-in-Residence and the project’s overall lead person for Hawai’i Island. “We are thankful for the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s support, for the time and commitment of everyone involved in the planning of this large scale project, and for sponsorships from ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center, the County of Hawai’i, the Grand Naniloa Hotel, Friends of Hōkūle’a and Hawai‘iloa, Hawaiian Airlines and the University of Hawai’i at Hilo.”

During each of its major port visits, crew members will engage with communities, schools and organizations through outreach events, service projects, crew presentations and canoe tours, with the mission of sharing wayfinding lore and lessons learned from the voyage.  In conjunction with the free canoe tours there will be an education expo where exhibitors will highlight related educational opportunities and environmental stewardship programs to “mālama honua,” or care for our planet. 

Participants of the education expo on April 21 at Wailoa Harbor include Blue Planet Foundation, Blue Zones Project, Hawaiʻi Community College, ʻImiloa Astronomy Center, Kamehameha Schools, Ke Kula o Nawahiokalaniʻopuʻu, Ko Kula Kai- Nawahiokalaniʻopuʻu, Maunakea Astronomical Observatory Outreach Committee, Mokupapapa Discovery Center, Polynesian Voyaging Society, PUEO and the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo.

For its Hawai’i Island itinerary, the canoe will first anchor at Kailua-Kona Pier on March 30 and 31 before setting sail to arrive in Hilo on Thursday, April 1.  It will be in Hilo until Tuesday, April 27 and depart for Miloli‘i for an overnight stop on Wednesday, April 28. The last port of call for Hōkūle’a will be Kawaihae Harbor on April 29, where free canoe tours and an education expo are scheduled for Saturday, May 5 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Mar 30 18

The Search for Near-Earth Objects from Hawai‘i

by Imiloa Astronomy Center

‘Imiloa presents Dr. Richard Wainscoat, Astronomer at University of Hawai’i, Mānoa
Date: Fri. April 20
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Cost: $10, $8 for members (member level discounts apply)

The Earth is continuously being hit with asteroids and comets that crash down from outer space. The impact of a 20-meter diameter asteroid near Chelyabinsk, Russia in 2013 provided a graphic example of a “small” asteroid impact. Large object impact is rare, but has catastrophic consequences. Learn about Near-Earth Objects (NEO’s) and the potentially disastrous outcomes that occur once they reach Earth at ‘Imiloa’s Maunakea Skies talk with Dr. Richard Wainscoat, Astronomer at the University of Hawai‘i, Mānoa, on Friday, April 20 at 7:00 pm.


Astronomers across the world are conducting searches for potentially hazardous objects that may hit Earth in the future. Much of the work is presently being conducted by astronomers in the United States, with Hawai‘i taking a leading role. Telescopes on three mountains in the state of Hawai‘i—Maunakea, Haleakalā and Maunaloa—are contributing significantly in the efforts to identify objects that may hit Earth within the next 100 years.


A major objective in this search is to identify large objects that could hit Earth so that  efforts that can be made to deflect these objects by changing their orbit.  Efforts are also being made to identify smaller objects immediately before they make impact, so that proper warning can be issued and appropriate steps can be taken to save lives. The telescopes being utilized in Hawai‘i for this project include Pan-STARRS1 and 2, and ATLAS on Haleakalā; Canada-France-Hawai‘i Telescope, NASA Infrared Telescope Facility and Subaru Telescope on Maunakea; and ATLAS on Maunaloa. This project is being funded by the NASA Near-Earth Object Observations Program.

Dr. Wainscoat will discuss the recent discoveries from the Pan-STARRS1 telescope on Haleakalā, including the “Halloween Asteroid,” which passed close to Earth on October 31, 2015, and `Oumuamua the first interstellar object which was discovered in October, 2017. The Hawaiian name `Oumuamua reflects the way this object is like a scout or messenger sent from the distant past to reach out to us (‘ou means “reach out for” and mua, with the second mua placing emphasis, means “first, in advance of”). Dr. Wainscoat will share insight into these important astronomical discoveries made in Hawai‘i.

‘Oumuamua (artist’s impression) Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser

Dr. Wainscoat grew up in Australia, obtaining his PhD in Astronomy from the Australian National University. After working in California at the NASA Ames Research Center for 3 years, he moved to Hawai‘i. He now leads the search for Near-Earth Objects with the Pan-STARRS telescopes at the University of Hawai‘i, Mānoa. He recognizes that dark skies are essential for astronomy, and has worked hard to preserve the dark night sky over Hawai‘i’s observatories.

Hosted by Planetarium Technician Emily Peavy, ‘Imiloa’s monthly Maunakea Skies program includes observational highlights of the current night sky over Hawai‘i, with the audience able to view prominent constellations and stars visible during this time of year. Maunakea Skies planetarium presentations are held on the third Friday of each month. General admission tickets are $10, $8 for ‘Imiloa members (member level discounts apply). Pre-purchase tickets at ‘Imiloa’s front desk or by phone at 808-932-8901.


Mar 27 18

ʻApelila (April) Sky Watch

by Imiloa Astronomy Center

By Chad Kālepa Baybayan & Emily Peavy, ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai‛i

Spring Starline in the Hawaiian Star Compass


On March 20, the sun crossed north over the equator in an event called the Equinox, a juncture when daylight and nighttime are approximately equal in length, heralding the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. The Hawaiian word associated with this season is Kupulau (Sprouting Leaf). Today’s column returns to learning the night sky through the eyes of oceanic voyagers by examining the second Hawaiian starline, Kaiwikuamoʻo, which stands out during spring and early summer.

As mentioned in past columns, starlines are collections of bright stars and constellations that line the night sky in a north-south direction. In the Hawaiian star chart, the four starlines are, Kekāomakaliʻi (The Bailer of Makaliʻi), Kaiwikuamoʻo (The Backbone), Mānaiakalani (The Heavenly Fishing Line) and Kalupeakawelo (The Kite of Kawelo). Because each is most prominent in the night sky during a different time of the year, they also serve as seasonal markers for winter, spring, summer, and fall.


In January’s column, we introduced the first starline, Kekāomakaliʻi, which is prominent during the winter season. The third starline, Manaiakalani, will be presented this summer and the fourth starline, Kalupeakawelo, will be featured this fall.

The easiest constellation to identify in the Kaiwikuamoʻo starline, is Nāhiku,“The Big Dipper,” rising in the direction Manu Koʻolau, northeast on our star compass. The seven stars of Nāhiku form the shape of a celestial ladle. Drawing an imaginary line from the two pointer stars in the scoop of the dipper to the horizon will lead you toward Hōkūpaʻa (Polaris), also known as “The North Star.” Hōkūpaʻa is positioned very near the north celestial pole so it seems to be motionless while other stars appear to rotate around it. Hōkūpaʻa is part of the constellation “The Little Dipper” which resembles a second smaller celestial ladle. These two buckets (Little and Big Dipper) are said to be pouring into each other.

If you follow the handle of Nāhiku eastward you arrive at the fourth brightest star in the night sky, Hōkūleʻa (Arcturus). Hōkūleʻa rises in the star compass direction ʻĀina Koʻolau (east-northeast), passing directly over Hawaiʻi Island, and is the zenith star (star at the highest point on the celestial sphere) for the Hawaiian Islands. Following Hōkūleʻa in the direction of Lā Malanai (southeast) on our star compass, brings you to Hikianalia (Spica), in the constellation Virgo. Hikianalia is actually comprised of two stars rather than one, a blue giant and a variable star, because the two stars orbit each other and are too close together to separate visually.

Continuing in a southward direction around the star compass, you will see a celestial quadrilateral shape, a box with a short and a wide end, known as Meʻe (Voice of Joy) to oceanic voyagers and Corvus (Latin for crow or raven) to astronomers. Taking a line through the center of Meʻe toward the southern horizon will lead you to a constellation held in special regard by Pacific navigators: Hānaiakamālama (Cared for by the Moon) also known as the Southern Cross, which rises around 9pm in April.

Navigators can use Hānaiakamālama to determine the direction of Hema, south on our star compass. This constellation is also important for establishing the latitude of the Hawaiian Islands. When Hānaiakamālama is in the upright position, at around 11 pm during April, you can measure the distance between its top star and bottom star and when you can establish the same distance equally between the bottom star and the horizon beneath it, you know you are at the latitude of Kahoʻolawe. At that point, simply turn your canoe downwind, and the wind will sail your canoe towards the Hawaiian Islands.

Special morning observations: 

Between 3am and 6am towards the south-eastern sky of April 2, Mars and Saturn will be going through a conjunction. A conjunction is when celestial objects appear to be very close together (within a few degrees) in our sky. A planet will frequently conjunct with celestial objects as well as other planets. The red dot of Mars will appear to be very close to the faint yellow dot of Saturn.


Every year in April, when Earth passes through Comet Thatcher’s dusty tail, a meteor shower, known as the April Lyrids, occurs. This shower is the oldest known shower ever recorded, as it was chronicled in the Zuo zhuan (ancient Chinese narrative history) in 678 B.C. Observers can enjoy watching this year’s Lyrid meteor shower from April 16 to April 25, but the best time to see the meteors will be just before sunrise on April 22. At its peak, you can expect to observe about 20 shooting stars per hour, or approximately 3 meteors a minute.


At 4:44am on the morning of April 29, Mercury will be rising and will be visible until the light of dawn obscures it.  On this day, Mercury will be at a unique position in its orbit, known as the Greatest Western Elongation, and is at its furthest position from the Sun in the Eastern sky.


April’s morning sky

Throughout April, sunrise occurs between 6 and 6:30 am. During these early morning hours the planets of Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars will be high in the southern region of the sky. Sitting between the planets will be the beautiful bulge of the Milky Way Galaxy.


April’s night sky

During the early evening hours, the incredibly bright planet Venus will chase the sun into the horizon. Venus is the 3rd brightest object in the sky after the Sun and the Full Moon. As it is usually seen either just after sunset or immediately before sun rise, Venus is variously referred to as the “evening star” or the “morning star.”


The recognizable shape of Kaheiheionākeiki (The Cat’s Cradle), also known as Orion the Hunter, will be preparing to set into the west. On a nice dark night, you will be able to see the blur of the Orion Nebula beneath the famous three stars that cut across Orion’s Belt. The Orion Nebula (M42) is the most famous stellar nursery in the sky.

Mar 14 18

‘Imiloa’s 2018 Merrie Monarch Cultural Enrichment Programs

by Imiloa Astronomy Center

In celebration of the 55th Annual Merrie Monarch Festival, ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center will host three days of cultural enrichment programming, Wednesday, April 4 through Friday, April 6. This series is organized annually at ‘Imiloa to complement and honor Merrie Monarch’s major purpose: the perpetuation, preservation and promotion of the art of hula and Hawaiian culture through education.


Join us at ‘Imiloa and immerse yourself in the beautiful stories delivered through the art of hula and chant by the Hula Preservation Society and Hālau Hula I Ka Leo Ola O Na Mamo. Serenade your senses with live music by Ho‘ā and the keiki of Project Kuleana. Hear first hand experiences from crewmembers of Hōkūle‘a’s inaugural voyage  in 1976 to Tahiti, and so much more!  


The opening day of events at ‘Imiloa on Wednesday, April 4 at 10:00 a.m. showcases Kumu Puanani Alama, the gracious matriarch of the hula world. Kumu Alama began her life in hula at a young age and has never looked back! At 87-years old, she has surpassed seven decades of teaching, a record previously held by her sister, Leilani Alama (1925-2014). Join Hula Preservation Society for this special time with the last living judge from the very first Merrie Monarch Festival competition.


The afternoon session on April 4 at 1:00 p.m. will feature hula and mele by Hālau Hula I Ka Leo Ola O Nā Mamo, Ke Kula o Nāwahīokalani‘ōpu‘u. They will share the mele lyrics ‘Ua Malu Kou Aupuni e ka Lani, ʻAʻohe Kupuʻeu, Nāna e ʻAʻe’ these lyrics honor Luka Keʻelikōlani, the great granddaughter of Kamehameha I who was a steadfast advocate of the Hawaiian language and who served as governor of Hawaiʻi island for nearly twenty years in the 19th century.  It is through hula, research and learning mele such as this from mentors that the students of Hālau I Ka Leo Ola O Nā Mamo have been able to connect with their moʻolelo (story) to ensure these messages live on into perpetuity.


Hula Preservation Society brings together dancers from New York City’s famed Hawaiian Room to share their stories, on Thursday, April 5 at 10:00 a.m. From 1937-1966, hula and Hawaiian music were celebrated in New York City through this pioneering venue, the Hawaiian Room. Young Hawaiian talents brought their youthful spirits, energies and aloha to millions over the Room’s 30 years. Come meet these (now) elders who are still going strong in sharing their love of hula. Archival photos and clips from the documentary film “The Hawaiian Room” will be shared.


On Thursday, April 5 at 1:00 p.m. enjoy the afternoon talking story with members of the Hōkūle‘a Crew. This special panel presentation will feature participants who took part as crew and vital supporters of the 1976 voyage of the iconic Hawaiian double-hulled canoe, Hōkūleʻa, on its inaugural round trip voyage to Tahiti. The panel will be moderated by Captain Gordon Piʻianaia, the captain of the leg from Tahiti to Hawaiʻi and its successful and triumphant return to Hawaiʻi. Crew members will recall the challenges of organizing and launching this daunting project and the return of the modern era of deep sea voyaging and the rebirth of traditional oceanic wayfinding. It is a story that will be retold live through the first hand experiences of those who lived this part of Hawaii’s history.

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) proudly sponsors a presentation on Hulathe traditions and innovations of hula, as well as share on the globalization and change that hula has experienced throughout the years both here in Hawaiʻi and throughout the world.  The Lālākea Foundation and Ka ʻAha Hula o Hālauaola will present a forum of discussion around these topics. This panel will be presented on Friday, April 6 at 10:00 a.m.


Culminating ‘Imiloa’s Merrie Monarch programming is a lively musical performance by Ho‘ā and the keiki of Project Kuleana,  beginning at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, April 6. Hoʻā is comprised of Hilo’s own Kihei Nahale‘a, Kamakoa Lindsey-Asing and Sean Nāleimaile.  Hoʻāʻs passion is to “ignite” the desire and action to perpetuate and care for “welo kupuna”our linneal heritage as Hawaiian people, and in particular, Hawaiian music and all of its elements.  Featured with Ho‘ā will be keiki from Project Kuleana. Project Kuleana was created by the three men of Hoʻā. Project Kuleana aspires to increase the innate value of Hawaiian music and inspire people to reflect on one’s own kuleana through the performance.  Project Kuleana seeks to encourage people to re-discover, re-connect and re-instill what Hawaiian music and performers of Hawaiian music represent.

Pre-sale tickets for each Cultural Enrichment Program at ‘Imiloa are $10 ($8 for ‘Imiloa members.) Pre-sale tickets can be purchased at ‘Imiloa’s front desk, or over the phone by calling 808-932-8901. A limited supply of tickets will be available for purchase the day of each event for $15.

As an added bonus, those with paid admissions to the Merrie Monarch Cultural Enrichment presentations will have the opportunity watch a planetarium show on the same day at the special price of only $5 per person.  Proof of paid admission needs to be presented.

Feb 28 18


by Imiloa Astronomy Center

New Horizons: NASA’s Epic Voyage of Exploration to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt Continues!

Date: Tuesday, March 6
Presentation time: 12 noon
Where: ‘Imiloa’s Planetarium
Cost: Standard admission prices apply

On July 14, 2015, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft flew by Pluto and its moons at 31,000 miles per hour. That day some 1.7 billion mentions of New Horizons sped across the Internet and social media, evidence of worldwide interest in this first mission to the last planet of the classical solar system. Now, the epic voyage of exploration continues with a planned January 1st 2019 flyby of a mysterious and still more distant Kuiper Belt Object known as “MU69.” And astronomical observatories in Hawai‘i have played an important role in the success of the mission, with NASA and New Horizons researchers visiting many times, over many years, to study the outer edges of our solar system.


Now, on Tuesday, March 6th, students, teachers and the general public on Hawai‘i Island will have the opportunity to hear directly from key members of the New Horizons team in fast-paced multimedia presentations featuring the stunning images and science gathered during the Pluto flyby. HD video illuminates key mission milestones, including a preview of New Horizons’ next encounter – a flight past MU69, which promises to be the most distant and most unchanged solar system object ever explored! NASA hopes that the flyby will provide important new discoveries about the origin and evolution of the entire solar system.

On hand to share both the science and gripping, behind-the-scenes personal stories of the mission will be:

MARC BUIE, New Horizons Investigator, SwRI

Marc Buie is a New Horizons Investigator, currently working at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, CO. Pluto has been a major focus of Marc’s research since 1983, and he was a founding member of the so-called “Pluto Underground” that promoted America’s first mission to the 9th planet starting in 1989. Marc spent many years at the Lowell Observatory, where Pluto was first discovered in 1930. More recently he spent ten years searching for a Kuiper Belt Object that New Horizons might fly on to after the Pluto encounter. Marc was the first to spot this elusive body in 2014, now known as “MU69,” using the Hubble Space Telescope, and has directed a large effort to understand this distant, cold and tiny world. He also has a project ( that is enlisting students to help measure the sizes of other objects in the Kuiper Belt. Says Marc, “I may be thin-blooded transplant from Louisiana but my imagination always runs away with me when thinking about the super cold and complex environments on Pluto and elsewhere in the Kuiper Belt.”


ALICE BOWMAN, Mission Operations Manager, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory

Alice Bowman works for the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, where she is the Mission Operations Manager—or “MOM”—for NASA’s New Horizons mission, which made the first visit to Pluto in 2015. She leads the team that controls the spacecraft, now about 3.7 billion miles from Earth. Her love of space exploration started as a child saving newspaper clippings of the Moon landing and other planetary visits. After studying physics and chemistry at the University of Virginia, Alice joined the California Institute of Technology, where she developed tumor-targeting micelles, which have successfully been used to treat cancer and fungal infections; programmed computer simulations to study how explosions affect soil compression and wave propagation; and developed silicon-based semiconductors that detected infrared waves emitted by cruise missiles and stars. From there, Bowman was a satellite technical advisor to U.S. Space Command, advising the agency on various infrared-signature detections. She joined the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in 1997, and has served on various spacecraft teams such as the Midcourse Space Experiment and CONTOUR, in addition to New Horizons. In her time away from work, she and her husband lead a community jam session twice a month and play in a bluegrass band.


VERONICA BRAY, Research Scientist at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory

Dr. Veronica Bray started her research at University College London, measuring lava flows on Venus. She completed her PhD at Imperial College London studying comet impacts into Europa using both observations and computer modeling. She is now a science team member on a number of missions to rocky and icy worlds all over the solar system: LROC (the Moon), HiRISE (Mars), Cassini (Saturn system) and New Horizons. In addition to her specialty of impact cratering, Veronica brings expertise in “comparative planetology” to the Geology and Geophysics section of the New Horizons team. Veronica continues the theme of hard-hitting, fast moving projectiles in her hobbies: she is an archer and metal/rock drummer! She is a targeting specialist for HiRISE on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and is also an adjunct lecturer of astrobiology.


RANDY MONROE, Middle School Science Teacher and son of Charlene, after whom Pluto’s giant moon Charon is named.
James R. (Randy) Monroe has spent his science teaching career embedding and integrating cutting-edge science technologies and techniques into processes and topics covered through a standardized Earth, Life and Physical Science curriculum. Monroe has a BA from California State University East Bay (CSUEB), a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from CSUEB, and a Master’s of Science in Technology Leadership. He served on the Contra Costa Math & Science Teachers Association Board, and recently on the committee for the California Subject Examination for Teachers (CSET) developing the new test for prospective teachers in Earth & Planetary Science. Employed by the Mt. Diablo Unified School District since 2001, he teaches middle school Earth, Life & Physical Science at Foothill Middle School in Walnut Creek, California. He is a longtime member of the New Horizon Education Team. Monroe’s step-father, James Christy, discovered Pluto’s largest moon Charon in 1978, named after Monroe’s mother Charlene. Through his fascination with hydrothermal vent ecology, Monroe became adjunct faculty at the Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute in the Microbial Ecology Program, and has also worked through Industrial Initiatives for Science and Math Educators (IISME) at Lockheed Martin as a Systems Engineer in missile defense studying infrared technologies.


KERRI BEISSER, Program Manager for the Space Department of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.  

Kerri Beisser, is a member of the Lab’s Senior Professional Staff. Before coming to APL, Ms. Beisser worked for the Challenger Center for Space Science Education, where she was the Project Manager for national programs for NASA’s Cassini, STARDUST and Galileo missions. She also worked for the U.S. Space and Rocket Center and Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. Here she conducted student and teacher training in the history of the space program and in the fields of aerospace, engineering, technology, and space station/space shuttle activities. She also led corporate training programs and special events for Space Camp, such as training the cast of the movie Apollo 13. Since joining APL in 1999 in the Space Department, Ms. Beisser has managed the education and public outreach programs and the engagement and communications program for NASA missions from the Sun to Pluto and beyond. These have included the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) mission, the NASA “Vision Mission” Innovative Interstellar Probe, the Thermosphere, Ionosphere, Mesosphere, Energetics and Dynamics (TIMED) mission, for the Solar-TErrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) spacecraft, the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) instrument for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), and the Radiation Belt Storm Probes Mission (RBSP). Currently, she is managing the engagement and communications programs for the New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, and the Parker Solar Probe Plus mission, slated to launch in July 2018.

Come early to explore ‘Imiloa’s exhibits! The speakers will be in the exhibit hall at 11am prior to their presentation.