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Apr 19 17

Reflection: Learning to Live on Mars, on Mauna Loa

by Emily Peavy

‘Imiloa invited Brian Shiro, Geology Lead for the Hawai’i Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) program, into the planetarium for the monthly lecture series Maunakea Skies. He discussed the ongoing project where NASA researches issues relating to long-duration missions to Mars, on Mauna Loa in Maunakea Skies: Learning to Live on Mars… on Mauna Loa.

Simulating Mars
Throughout recent years NASA has gained a new interest in sending humans to live on the planet Mars. Such an expedition to the Red Planet introduces an array of challenges that need to be addressed before a full mission could be planned. Some of these challenges relate to the great distance from the Earth which would mean that potential astronauts would have to deal with long mission duration, isolation, and time delays in communication with Earth, all of which can affect overall psychological health. To study and address issues relating to these challenges NASA has created and utilized an analog site on the slopes of Mauna Loa; this is the HI-SEAS project.

The HI-SEAS site is a disused quarry site on the slope of Mauna Loa. This ideal environment simulates Mars in that its isolated, the basalt is similar to that we find on Mars, and it visually looks like the Red Planet. The habitat is a temporary structure that uses solar panels and hydrogen fuel cells for power. While the research purpose of the project is to test the psychological effect of isolation, a tangential effort is being made to develop sustainable building practices, low resource use, and “smart” sensors which regulate the habitat’s internal environment.

Living and Working in Isolation
Since its conception in 2012, HI-SEAS has conducted 4 missions with its 5th mission currently in progress. These missions last from 4 months to 12 months. Crew members live in the habitat throughout this time and can only leave the habitat during Extra Vehicular Activities (EVA’s), which occur only a couple times each week, and the crewmembers must wear space suits like the ones that would be worn on Mars. Crew members are given projects such as mapping geological features of the area and running geological tests. The results of these projects are compared to tests conducted by geologists unhindered by the suits and long term isolation to see how the unique environment affected the crew members.

Learn more about this exciting projects by visiting UHH News, West Hawaii Today, New York Times, The Daily 360 Video, Time and at the HI-SEAS website. Tours of the habitat site are available between missions. If your organization might be interested in a tour contact Dr. Kim Binstead at or Dr. Bryan Caldwell at

Join us for ‘Imiloa’s next Maunakea Skies Talk on Friday, April 21 at 7pm: Cutting Edge Technology and Ancient Mysteries, presented by Dr. Luca Rizzi, Support Astronomer at the W.M. Keck Observatory. Pre-purchase your tickets at ‘Imiloa’s front desk, or over the phone by calling 808-932-8901.

Apr 3 17

‘Imiloa’s Merrie Monarch Cultural Enrichment Programs

by Imiloa Astronomy Center

In celebration of the 54th Annual Merrie Monarch Festival, ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center will host three days of cultural enrichment programming, Wednesday, April 19 through Friday, April 21. 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 Hālau o Kekuhi. Serenade your senses with live music by Grammy® Award Winner Kalani Pe‘a. Discover the traditions of oral stories in the Oli Workshop by Kumu Hula Mehanaokalā Hind, and much more!


The opening day of events at ‘Imiloa (Wednesday, April 19) will showcase the Oli Workshop with Kumu Hula Mehanaokalā Hind at 10:00 a.m. Hind will share mele aloha ‘āina that showcase Hawaiian perspectives of origin and connection to the land. Hind is a Kumu Hula and cultural practitioner skilled in hula and oli. She descends from the hula lineage of Kumu Hula Leinaʻala Kalama Heine and has been trained in mele oli by some of Hawaiʻi’s master chanters.


The afternoon session will feature a film screening of Nā Hulu Lehua: The Royal Cloak and Helmet of Kalaniʻōpuʻu. This documentary film shares the historic story of Kalaniʻōpuʻu, aliʻi nui (high chief) of Hawaiʻi Island, who greeted Captain James Cook in 1779 at Kealakekua Bay and draped his treasured ‘ahu ‘ula (feathered cloak) over the newcomer’s shoulders as a gesture of goodwill. While Cook himself would never leave Hawai‘i, Kalaniʻōpuʻu’s feathered cape and mahiole (feathered helmet) sailed back to Europe with Cook’s crew, and ultimately ended up at the National Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Over 230 years later, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Bishop Museum, Te Papa, and Hawaiian Airlines collaborated in an unprecedented partnership that enabled the return of Kalaniʻōpuʻu’s priceless garments to Hawaiʻi. Hind, who participated in the returning of Kalaniōpuʻu’s cape, will lead the screening with a Q & A to follow. This afternoon session will take place at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 19.


A live musical performance by Hilo’s own Lito Arkangel will kick off on Thursday, April 20 at 10:00 a.m. Arkangel has a personal connection to the songs he presents, and delivers more than words, but an essence of the story captured in mele (song). He spent most of his youth growing up in Keaukaha with ‘ohana who have guided him through the many facets of Hawaiian culture and upbringing. Lito perpetuates Hawaiian music and culture as a teacher, mentor and professional musician. Join Lito as he shares mele from his two albums, Me ke aloha (2014) and Kuʻupau (2017), along with the special stories that connect him to these mele Hawaiʻi.


Enjoy an afternoon hula and costume presentation by Hālau o Kekuhi. Across various dancers and dance instructors, it is a common understanding that costuming should reflect either the performer, the story within their dance, or both. Join Hālau o Kekuhi as they perform hula and lead a conversation that explores the dancer’s kuleana (responsibility) to create a unique environment through detailed chant, motions and intentional costuming. This performance will take place on Thursday, April 20 at 1:00 p.m.


Kealopiko will open the morning session on Friday, April 21 at 10:00 a.m. with He leo aloha: a presentation on the language and story in the Kealopiko design process. The idea to start Kealopiko grew out of a deep aloha for the islands, the history, its people and the Hawaiian language. “Figuring out how we articulate the many voices of the past and present in story and design forms the core of what we do and is an ever-changing process that continually educates us as founders,” says co-founders Jamie Makasobe and Hina Kneubuhl. “As we grow, so does our process and the language we find and use to reconnect elements of the natural and cultural landscapes to our modern day existence.”


Culminating ‘Imiloa’s Merrie Monarch programming is a live musical performance by 2017 Grammy® Award Winner, Singer/Songwriter Kalani Pe‘a. His debut album E Walea features seven haku mele (Hawaiian original music compositions) and five of his favorite covers. E Walea hit number 1 on the iTunes world music charts, and in August of 2016 it hit number 12 on the Billboard world albums charts. In February of 2017 the debut album took home the Grammy® Award for Best Regional Roots Music Album. Pe‘a is a native to Panaʻewa, Hilo and currently resides on Maui. Join Kalani Pe‘a as he presents mele from his award-winning album and shares his passion for perpetuating the Hawaiian language through music and visual arts. Pe‘a’s performance will begin at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, April 21.


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. Pre-sale tickets are available for purchase starting Tuesday, April 4 at 9:00 a.m. A limited supply of tickets will be available for purchase the day of each event for $15.

Mar 31 17

Reflection: Near Earth Object (NEO) Hazard, NASA’s Planetary Defense

by Emily Peavy

‘Imiloa invited Rob Landis, Engineer with NASA’s Planetary Science Division, and Dr. Kelly Fast, Program Manager of the Near-Earth Object Observations program in NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office, to the planetarium where they discussed the rocks that have been nudged near Earth’s orbit in their presentation Near-Earth Object (NEO) Hazard: NASA and Planetary Defense.

Raw Ingredients of the Solar System

The presenters described the planets in our solar system as ‘finished’ or ‘well-baked’ as they have collected enough mass to create a round shape and main a cleared stable orbit. If we consider planets in our own solar system as ‘well-baked’ then the asteroids circling planet Earth are the ‘raw’ ingredients which are left over from the formation of our solar system.

Artist depiction of a planet that never quite formed. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Since 1801, we’ve discovered millions of asteroids which are scattered throughout the solar system. Most asteroids orbit between the regions of Mars and Jupiter, in the Main Asteroid Belt. A Near-Earth Object, or NEO, would be any object whose closest approach to the sun is less than 1.3 astronomical units (AU) or 194 million kilometers (km) away (the Earth is 1 AU or 149 million km from the sun on average). While these objects are designated as “Near-Earth,” most of them never come too close to the Earth as they orbit –however NASA’s newly established office, the Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO), is set in place to detect, track and characterize these potential asteroid hazards that are “Near Earth” in order to protect us.


Scientists also consider a sub-set of NEOs which have been designated as Potentially Hazardous Objects, or PHO; these objects will intersect with Earth’s orbit less than 7.5 million km away from our planet.


Search and Detect Program

NASA coordinates with observatories from around the world, one of which includes the University of Hawai‘i’s own Pan-STARRS on Haleakalā, Maui. The Minor Planet Center operates as an international observation database and works to determine the orbit of objects in our solar system. While the Center for NEO Studies, with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, conducts precision orbit determination and assesses the impact risk with an automated Sentry. When a new NEO or PHO is detected— observatories, including NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility on Maunakea, will conduct follow up observations to further expand our knowledge of these objects. As of March 4, 2017 15,742 Near-Earth Objects have been detected with 1,788 of them being Potentially Hazardous Objects.

Gif Created from Scott Manley’s video using data from the Lowell Observatory & Minor Planet Center

Explore these types of objects more with JPL’s Keeping an Eye on Space Rocks


Mar 30 17

Cutting Edge Technology and Ancient Mysteries

by Brea Aamoth

‘Imiloa presents Dr. Luca Rizzi, Support Astronomer at W.M. Keck Observatory

Date: Fri. April 21
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Cost: $10, $8 for members (member level discounts apply)

Continuing the tradition of keeping Maunakea at the forefront of astronomical research, the W.M. Keck Observatory recently installed a new research instrument called the Keck Cosmic Web Imager. With unparalleled capabilities and extreme sensitivity, this instrument will allow scientists to look at the faintest and most diffuse structures of the Universe, and investigate the pillars of dark matter that caused the formation of the primordial galaxies and galaxy clusters. Learn more about this quest for astronomical knowledge at ‘Imiloa’s Maunakea Skies talk with Dr. Luca Rizzi, Support Astronomer at W.M. Keck Observatory on Friday, April 21 at 7:00 pm.

The Keck Cosmic Web Imager will be one of the best in the world for capturing images of cosmic objects in great detail. These unique capabilities will allow astronomers to view detailed images where each pixel can be viewed in all wavelengths of visible light. Dr. Rizzi will share the mesmerizing questions that this instrument will be able to answer, which will soon open a new wealth of knowledge in the astronomy community. He will also touch on the adventurous construction and challenging transportation of the instrument, starting its journey in Southern California, traveling across the ocean and then eventually its trip up to the summit of Maunakea on Hawai‘i Island.

Dr. Luca Rizzi, Support Astronomer at W.M. Keck Observatory

Dr. Rizzi received his PhD from Padua University, Italy— the same University where Galileo Galilei was a teacher in the late 1500’s. Inspired by this heritage, Dr. Rizzi pursued a career in observational astronomy, first as a Post-doctoral student at the University of Hawai‘i, then as a support astronomer at the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope. Eventually his passion for astronomical observatories led him to the W.M. Keck Observatory, the largest and most scientifically productive ground-based telescope in the world. Dr. Rizzi’s duties at Keck involve overseeing astronomical instrumentation and, in collaboration with others, overseeing the flow of data for observers. He was involved in producing some of the software for this unique new instrument and was in charge of its commissioning at the telescope.


W.M. Keck Observatory

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 members (member level discounts apply). Pre-purchase tickets at ‘Imiloa’s front desk or by phone at 808-932-8901.

Member Level Discounts: $8 for UHH/HawCC Student, Kupuna, Individual, Dual, and Family Members; $6 for Patron Members; Free for Silver, Gold, and Corporate Members.

Mar 15 17

‘Imiloa Announces First-Ever Endowment Gift

by Imiloa Astronomy Center

The legacy of the late educator and government planner Ilima Pi‘ianai‘a is being celebrated through the establishment of a new endowment at the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center in Hilo.


Gordon Pi‘ianai‘a of Honolulu and Norman Pi‘ianai‘a of Kamuela have made a gift through the University of Hawai‘i Foundation to create a new permanently endowed fund to honor their sister and expand access to educational programming at ‘Imiloa by K-12 students.


In announcing the gift, ‘Imiloa Executive Director Ka‘iu Kimura stated, “Just as we are marking the 11th anniversary of our opening, ‘Imiloa is thrilled to have our very first permanent endowment, a fund that will benefit the center in perpetuity and enable us to share our unique brand of programming with both current and future generations of young people. We are humbled by the Pi‘ianai‘a family’s vote of confidence in ‘Imiloa and excited about what this will mean in our second decade and beyond!” UH Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney added, “This wonderful gift will benefit the children of Hawai‘i for years to come.”


Born and raised on O‘ahu, Ilima Pi‘ianai‘a (1947-2006) pursued a noteworthy career in the public sector, starting with her service as a Hawai‘i County planner helping to develop a general plan for the island. She later served with the Hawai‘i Community Development Authority and worked on the Kaka‘ako Improvement District, among other projects. She lectured in geography and planning at UH Mānoa from 1980 to 1984, administered the Task Force on the Hawaiian Homes Commission from 1982-1983, then held appointments as Hawai‘i County deputy planning director, director of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, director of the Office of International Relations and Affairs, and deputy director of the state Department of Agriculture.


Norman Pi‘ianai‘a commented about his sister, “Even though Ilima was from Honolulu, she loved the Big Island and its people.  She moved here around 1970 and mentored in the Planning Department under Director Raymond Suefuji during the days of Mayor Shunichi Kimura, a time when things were in a process of great change in Hawai‘i.  With ancestral roots firmly planted here, we are confident that Ilima would be pleased to know she has in this way returned and will continue to help nurture and contribute to the future education and development of Hawai‘i Island youngsters.”


A longtime friend of Ilima, Deanne Lemle Bosnak, remembers her as “a perfect embodiment of ‘aloha.’” She personally represented Hawai‘i’s beautiful blend of cultures, its warm hospitality and its welcoming aloha spirit. She was also a diplomat who worked hard to build bridges between disparate communities and cultures, demonstrating in everything she did a deep respect for the land and the values of its people.”


Annual distributions from the Ilima Pi‘ianai‘a Endowment will support access to ‘Imiloa by local elementary, middle and high school students, and may include subsidized admission and or transportation to the center, subsidized fees for ‘Imiloa programs, and/or program outreach to rural parts of Hawai‘i Island and the state.


To make a gift to the Ilima Pi‘ianai‘a Endowment, please visit

Mar 9 17

Reflection: Why is it Dark at Night?

by Emily Peavy

‘Imiloa invited Dr. Tom Geballe, Astronomer at Gemini Observatory, to the planetarium where he discussed the phenomenon of the dark night sky in Why is it Dark at Night? A Modern Look at Olbers’ Paradox.


Darkness Between the Stars

The first astronomical observation that every child makes is that the sky is dark at night. While we do see the pinpoint light of stars peeking through the void, as a whole the sky is dark. As we grow older, we learn that the stars that make up the nighttime sky are but a small fraction of the billions of stars that stretch across the universe. However, if there are so many stars across the whole universe, why isn’t our night sky shining bright with their combined brilliance?

Old Ideas of Cosmology

Before the advancement of Einsteinian physics and Hubble’s observations of the expanding universe—astronomers and philosophers had the natural assumption that the universe was static. A static universe means neither contracting nor expanding, with no beginning, a universe that has always existed, with an infinite number of stars shining perpetually. With this theory, no matter how far away a star is from Earth, its light would have time to reach Earth and every line of sight would end with a star.

However, today we have a different model of the universe. We know that the universe does not contain an infinite number of stars, just about 10 billion trillion stars. We also know that the universe is expanding out in all directions, and has been since its creation from the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago. The nighttime sky is dark due to the universe’s immense present size and these properties.


Don’t miss our next Astronomy Talk, The NEO Hazard: NASA and Planetary Defense on Saturday, March 11 at 7:00 p.m. in ‘Imiloa’s planetarium. Rob Landis and Dr. Kelly Fast of NASA will discuss possible asteroid impacts on Earth and NASA’s protection efforts with the newly established office: the Planetary Defense Coordination Office.

We also have an exciting presentation coming up titled Learning to Live on Mars… on Mauna Loa, which is part of our Maunakea Skies series on Friday, March 17 at 7:00 p.m. Brian Shiro, Geology Lead at the Hawai’i Space Exploration Analog Simulation (HI-SEAS), will discuss their program that researches how crews will function on long-duration missions to Mars.
For more information on events at ‘Imiloa, visit our Event Calendar. Tickets are $10, $8 for members. Pre-purchase your tickets at ‘Imiloa’s front desk or over the phone by calling 808-932-8901.


Mar 7 17

Reflection: Exploring Mars with 150,000 Earthlings

by Emily Peavy

‘Imiloa invited Dr. Meg Schwamb, Assistant Scientist at Gemini Observatory, to the planetarium where she discussed citizen science projects that are currently studying unique surface features on the red planet of Mars in Maunakea Skies: Exploring Mars with 150,000 Earthlings.

Like nothing we’ve seen on Earth:
Mars is often referred to as “Earth’s little brother,” as it shares many similarities to planet Earth. Like Earth, Mars orbits within the habitable zone, its axial tilt causes seasons for the northern and southern hemispheres and it’s within the sun’s region where it’s warm enough for liquid water to exist. Despite these similarities, observations from orbiting spacecraft have revealed features around the poles of Mars that are nothing like we’ve observed from Earth.

Dark “fans” have been observed on Mars, particularly near the southern pole of the planet. These dark features are thought to be geysers of carbon dioxide (CO2). During the Martian winter, CO2 ice (also known as dry ice) collects beneath the surface near the poles. When the spring season starts warming the southern hemisphere, the CO2 ice sublimates (transforms directly from a solid form to a gaseous form) and erupts from the surface. When the Martian winds blow this material, planetary scientists are able to probe the atmosphere of the red planet and study wind patterns and other atmospheric phenomena. Additionally, some of this gas remains trapped beneath the surface and forms “spider” channels as it travels beneath the surface of the planet.

Many observations of these features and phenomena come from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) instrument on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which started its orbital mission in 2006. HiRISE is able to detect surface features as small as coffee tables from the orbit of Mars.

Average, everyday people explore surface features on Mars:

Over the past decade scientists around the world have seen the rise of “citizen science” projects. These projects connect people through the Internet, allowing average, everyday people to participate in scientific projects. Planet Four and Planet Four: Terrains allows volunteers to explore and identify features, such as fans and spiders, on the surface of Mars.

Participants map out features and sort through images taken with Reconnaissance’s HiRISE camera, and the lower resolution CTX camera. Computers are not good at identifying these features, but they are easily spotted with the human eye, making these “citizen scientists” all the more valuable.

The above image shows how “citizen scientists” have mapped the observed features on Mars, and how scientists can average this information into usable data.
Credit: Planetfour

Information generated by these projects are implemented by scientists to map the poles of the red planet. This also assists in gaining a better understanding of how seasonal changes affect the surface features and the atmosphere on Mars. In her presentation, Dr. Schwamb showcased some recent discoveries from Planet Four: Terrains, including HiRISE images from some of the 20 new regions of interest suspected of having spider channels, confirmed by HiRISE imaging.

Feb 28 17

Mahalo for Celebrating 11 Years with ‘Imiloa!

by Imiloa Astronomy Center

Over 2,500 community members joined us at ‘Imiloa for our 11th Birthday Celebration on Sunday, February 26. Keiki and adults alike enjoyed pounding kalo, creating DIY silly-putty, flying through the Universe in the planetarium, learning about native plants in the garden sale, discovering how to help prevent Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death, digging their hands into different varieties of limu (seaweed), enjoying delicious cake, interacting in the exhibit hall and exploring the many other indoor and outdoor activities! ‘Imiloa extends a big mahalo to everyone who joined us at our Birthday Celebration, and we hope you join us at ‘Imiloa again soon!

Keiki pounding kalo grown in ‘Imiloa’s native gardens!

Families enjoying activities in Moanahōkū Hall

Kalo Pounding

DIY Silly Putty

Learning about earthquakes using our ‘Science-on-a-Sphere’ exhibit

Limu (seaweed) pressing activity
See more photos on our Facebook page!

Mahalo KTA Super Stores for sponsoring our 11th Birthday Celebration. Because of KTA Super Stores’ support, our birthday celebration was free to the public. A special thanks to our volunteers and community organizations who created activities and information booths during our special event:

KTA Super Stores
‘Alalā Project
Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope
Gemini Observatory / AURA
Hale Paʻa Kaua
Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park
Hawaiʻi Youth Challenge
‘Imiloa Docents and Volunteers
Institute for Astronomy (IfA)
Kiwanis Club of East Hawai’i
Maunakea Forest Restoration Project
PISCES Hawaiʻi
Starbase Hawaiʻi
Subaru Telescope
UHH Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes
UHH College of Pharmacy
UH CTAHR – Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death
UHH Marine Science Department

Keiki learning about various types of lava rock

Feb 24 17

Learning to Live on Mars…on Mauna Loa

by Brea Aamoth

Tucked away on the northern flank of Mauna Loa 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. Learn more about this quest to make human life possible on the Red Planet at ‘Imiloa’s Maunakea Skies talk with Brian Shiro, Geology Lead at HI-SEAS on Friday, March 17 at 7:00pm.

Lucie uses the NASA KSC Swamp Works geotechnical tool while Annie records the data.

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-life Mars-like communication conditions. 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, 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.

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 members (member level discounts apply). Pre-purchase tickets at ‘Imiloa’s front desk or by phone at 808-932-8901

Member Level Discounts: $8 for UHH/HawCC Student, Kupuna, Individual, Dual, and Family Members; $6 for Patron Members; Free for Silver, Gold, and Corporate Members.

Feb 23 17

The NEO Hazard: NASA and Planetary Defense

by Imiloa Astronomy Center

A Presentation by Rob Landis and Dr. Kelly Fast

Date: Sat. March 11
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Cost: $10, $8 for members

Near-Earth Objects or ‘NEOs’ are leftover bits of solar system jetsam and flotsam that have been nudged into orbit around the Earth, allowing them to come within our close vicinity. NASA recently established a new office to coordinate planetary defense-related activities to mitigate the hazard of potential impact by such asteroids. Learn more about possible asteroid impacts, and NASA protection efforts at ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center’s upcoming astronomy talk with Rob Landis and Dr. Kelly Fast on Saturday, March 11 at 7:00 p.m.

Photo: Time-lapse image of a retrograde Oort cloud comet NASA/JPL-Caltech

The creation of the Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO) is a logical extension of NASA’s NEO Observations programs, which began nearly two decades ago. Since that program’s inception in 1998, NASA-funded endeavors have discovered more than 98% of all new NEOs. Observatories on Hawai‘i Island and Maui are key to these discoveries and help us better understand the makeup of these celestial vagabonds in our neighborhood.


In their presentation, Fast and Landis will share current efforts to detect, track, and characterize comets and asteroids that come close to Earth. They will also discuss the steps that NASA plans to take to deflect a potential asteroid on an impact trajectory.


Landis is currently assigned to the NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. and is an engineer within the Planetary Science Division, Science Mission Directorate. He’s had a varied career on several NASA space missions including the Hubble Space Telescope, the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer, the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn (and Titan), the Mars Exploration Rovers and the International Space Station. He received his B.S. in Astrophysics from Michigan State University and his M.S. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota.


Dr. Fast manages the Near-Earth Object Observations Program in NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office, where she is also the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) Program Scientist. Fast earned her Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of Maryland. She studied the atmospheres of Mars, Jupiter and Titan as an astronomer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center before coming to NASA Headquarters in 2011.



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.