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Sagan Planet Walk coming to ‘Imiloa: Kamailehope

by vrecinto on August 27th, 2012

The Sagan Planet Walk exhibit is a walking model of the solar system, extending 1.2 km from the center of “The Commons” in downtown Ithaca, NY, to the Ithaca Sciencenter, a hands-on museum featuring over 250 exhibits. It is a  model of our Solar System at one five-billionth (1/5,000,000,000) of the actual size.  Both the size of the planets and the distance between them are accurately scaled and displayed.

The Sagan Planet Walk, is named in memory of Carl Sagan—a respected scientist, inspired and tireless advocate for science, valued advisor to the Ithaca Sciencenter, and member of the Ithaca community for nearly 30 years. The Sagan Planet Walk seeks to inspire wonder about the immense scale of the cosmos and our place within it.

Artist rendition of the exhibit

‘Imiloa Astronomy Center will install the station representing Alpha Centauri (Kamailehope- Hawaiian name), the star nearest to the Sun,  as the latest edition to the Sagan Planet Walk.  With this installation it will complete the world’s largest exhibit, measuring 8,000 km (5,000 mi) from end to end, and eclipsing the previous record of 110 km (66 mi) held by the artwork in the Stockholm, Sweden subway tunnels.

‘Imiloa’s first outdoor sculpture, Alpha Centauri or Kamailehope “The Maile That Follows” is the second in the patheon of star configurations in Polynesian Astronomy. Kamailehope is mentioned in the fourteenth canto of the Kumulipo and is a prominent star used in voyaging.

Preeminent Hawaiian artist Rocky Jensen designed and sculpted Kamailehope; a kneeling female form with her arms raised from which Alpha Centauri can be viewed on the eastern horizon. Kamailehope began as an androgynous form used by ancient Hawai‘i Maoli to encompass the female and male spirits. As Mr. Jensen sculpted this image from basalt stone, the image emerged as a female form.

Mr. Jensen lives in East Hawai‘i and has featured his work throughout the world. He is distinguished among contemporary artists, as he has a permanent collection of work at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, Hawai‘i.

Kamailehope will be unveiled on September 28, 2012 preceding the annual ‘Imiloa Wayfinding & Navigation Festival on the 29th. The festival celebrates astronomy, Polynesian navigation, and Hawaiian artists. Last year, the festival attracted over 1,000 participants.

The Alpha Centauri station has been two years in the making, a partnership of the Sciencenter, ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center, Cornell Univ., Univ. of Hawai’i, and NASA.  Lead funding was provided by the NASA Space Grant Program of New York (based at Cornell) and Hawai’i (based at the University of Hawai‛i), with additional major funding provided by ‘Imiloa and the Sciencenter.

Mahalo to Byron Fujimoto, Vice President, Jas. W. Glover Ltd., for donating the basalt stone for the sculpture and to Ben Alonzo, President, Kea‘au Service Station Inc., for installing the sculpture in ‘Imiloa’s garden.

2 Comments
  1. KWakita permalink

    Well done Vinnie. I enjoyed reading it.

  2. NANCY FRENCH permalink

    I READ EACH MONTHLY ‘LETTER’ OVER AND OVER. IT’S LIKE A SURPRISE PICNIC WHERE I KEEP FINDING NEW THINGS I HADN’T READ AND DIGESTED. THANK YOU FOR WHAT YOU DO AND WHAT YOU ADD TO MY LIFE

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