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Exploring Small Worlds

by Brea Aamoth on July 31st, 2015
Pluto's South Pole by NASA

Pluto’s South Pole, photo courtesy of NASA

Next Maunakea Skies Talk August 21, 2015

Speaker: Dr. Alan Tokunaga, NASA Infrared Telescope Facility

Topic: Exploring Small Worlds

Join Dr. Alan Tokunaga, Director of the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF), for ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center’s next “Maunakea Skies Talk” August 21, 2015 at 7 pm.

The recent discoveries on dwarf planets Pluto, Ceres, Vesta, and the Comet Churyumov–Gerasimenko made by spacecraft have expanded our understanding of these amazing worlds in our Solar System. These places are also observed by the telescopes on Maunakea. Dr. Tokunaga will discuss how the IRTF contributes to observing these distant regions.


Dr. Alan Tokunaga

Dr. Tokunaga is the Director for the NASA IRTF, a 3.0-meter telescope on Maunakea. He grew up on Maui and got his training in astronomy at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. His research specialty is building infrared instruments and infrared observations of solar system objects, young stars, and the interstellar medium. He is presently leading an effort to build an infrared spectrograph for the IRTF. The IRTF is funded by NASA to make observations that are needed to support planetary missions. The telescope is operated by the University of Hawai‘i through a contract with NASA.

Maunakea Skies program will be hosted by Emily Peavy, ‘Imiloa planetarium staff who will provide observational highlights of the current night sky over Hawai‘i, pointing out prominent constellations and stars one can see during this time of year.

The monthly Maunakea Skies planetarium presentations are held on the third Friday of each month. Cost is $8 for Individual, Dual, Kupuna and Family Members; $6 for Patron Members; Free for Silver, Gold, and Corporate Members. Non-member rate is $10. Pre-purchase tickets at the ‘Imiloa front desk or by phone at 969-9703.

‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai‘i is located at 600 ‘Imiloa Place in Hilo, off Komohana and Nowelo Streets at the UH Hilo Science and Technology Park. For more information, go to or call (808) 969-9703.

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