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The Diagram That Spawned a Galaxy

by vrecinto on July 15th, 2014
Milky Way Night Sky Black Rock Desert Nevada

Attribution: “Milky Way Night Sky Black Rock Desert Nevada” by Steve Jurvetson Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons http://

Next Maunakea Skies Talk July 18, 2014

Speaker: Gregory D. Wirth, Support Astronomer at the W. M. Keck Observatory

Topic: The Diagram That Spawned a Galaxy

Time: Friday July 18, 2014 at 7 p.m. in the ‘Imiloa Planetarium

Gaze into the sky on any clear Hawaiian summer night and we see the Milky Way, a band of faint light that spans the heavens and that we now know traces the disk of our Galaxy. Dr. Wirth will share the fascinating story of how scientists used careful observations of stars to develop the most important diagram in modern astronomy, Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram, and used it as a “Rosetta Stone” to unlock the secrets of how stars are born, live, and die, ultimately leading to the present understanding of the true shape and size of the Milky Way we inhabit.

Dr. Gregory D. Wirth is a Support Astronomer at the W. M. Keck Observatory. Growing up Michigan, Greg shares a story how he successfully begged his parents for a telescope but was thoroughly disappointed by his first view of a galaxy through it. Undaunted by this failure, he persevered to study physics and astronomy in college and was one of the lucky first students to complete a doctoral thesis using data from the brand new Keck telescope. Greg joined Keck’s staff in 1998 and has served as the primary support scientist on the LRIS, DEIMOS, ESI, and KCWI instruments. Greg specializes in studying the evolution of galaxies in rich clusters.

Chris Phillips, ‘Imiloa planetarium staff,  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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