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Sep 25 17

October Sky Watch: The Stars Above Hawai‘i

by Imiloa Astronomy Center

‘Imiloa is excited to announce that we are now regular contributors to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser! ‘Imiloa’s Sky Watch shares the upcoming month’s sky chart and highlights of the night sky, and will appear in the newspaper on the last Sunday of each month. Sky Watch is written by Kālepa Baybayan, navigator-in-residence, and Emily Peavy, planetarium technician and support facilitator at ‘Imiloa. 


A keenly developed ability to read the night sky helped early Polynesians find their way from island to island across the Pacific, and ultimately to Hawai‘i. Under the leadership of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, modern Hawaiian voyagers have rediscovered this knowledge and continued to develop and share it with a broader community. The recent completion of the three-year Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage by the iconic voyaging canoe Hōkūle‛a underscores the timeless relevance of this indigenous system of celestial navigation.


A First Look at Oceanic Wayfinding

Traditional oceanic wayfinding, or non-instrument navigation, needs to perform three essential functions: (1) to orient and set direction for the vessel, (2) to identify the vessel’s position at sea, and (3) to make landfall. The tool used by modern-day navigators aboard the Hōkūle‛a is the Hawaiian Star Compass.

A sidereal (“star”) compass, the modern Hawaiian Star Compass is based upon traditional models of orientation and direction setting. The framework for the star compass is a circle whose edge represents the visual horizon, where sky touches land or sea. The user, at the center of the circle, is represented by the image of a bird in flight, reinforcing the concept that a bird is never lost, but always guided by an internal compass that leads to distant landfalls.

The circle is divided into four principal directions that intersect at 90˚ angles, east-west and north-south. The primary celestial body used to establish direction in the star compass is our daytime star, the sun. The sun travels a yearly cycle, rising north of east during our northern hemisphere summer, and then rising south of east during our winter.

The Hawaiian word for east, Hikina, means “to arrive” and references the horizon where stars first arrive and begin their nightly climb into the sky. As they move across the sky and transit the meridian they begin their descent towards the west, reentering the horizon to disappear from sight. The Hawaiian word for west, Komohana, means “to enter.” With the Hawaiian Star Compass these are the first two cardinal directions to establish: Hikina, “to arrive” and Komohana, “to enter.”

A bird flying with its tail pointed towards Hikina, or east, would have its beak facing Komohana, west. Its right wing would extend towards the edge of the circle we call ‘Ākau, north, and its left wing would point to Hema, south. An imaginary line drawn between north and south, the meridian, is the boundary between eastward-rising and westward-descending stars.


The compass circle is divided into 32 segments called star houses, each of which occupies an 11.25˚ arc of the circle. To enable the setting of course and direction, the navigator memorizes the houses where key stars rise and set. The star compass diagram above includes the names of the first four star houses; remaining names will be shared in future articles.


Evening Observing

The hour of 8 pm is a great time to do stargazing, since it is usually nice and dark but not too late. Throughout October, Kahuinakoluhoʻokele (The Navigator’s Triangle) will be high and bright in the sky at this time. Comprised of three stars–Humu (Altair), Keoe (Vega), and Pira‘etea (Deneb)–the triangle stands out against the band of our Milky Way galaxy. These three stars symbolize the Pacific island groups that define Polynesia: Humu representing Aotearoa (New Zealand), Keoe representing Rapanui (Easter Island), and Pira‘etea representing Hawai‘i. The triangle also forms one part of the Hawaiian star family Mānaiakalani (Maui’s fishhook).

In the northeastern part of the sky, observers can see the faint Andromeda Galaxy. First locate the bright “W” shape of ‘Iwakeli‘i (Chief Frigate Bird) (Cassiopeia) and look about 15 degrees south of its lowest, brightest star. To the naked eye, the galaxy looks like a small blurry smudge, but keep in mind this is the farthest that humans can see with the naked eye–about 2.5 million light years away! Andromeda is the closest galaxy to our Milky Way. Gravitationally the two galaxies are moving closer together and are actually set to collide in a few billion years.

Throughout October the dynamic planet Saturn will be faintly visible in the southeastern sky in the early evening. Through even a small telescope, observers can spy Saturn’s famous rings. These rings were observed in great detail by NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft, which finished its 13-year long orbit just ten days ago, after groundbreaking research supported in part by observations performed at Hawai‛i-based telescopes on Maunakea. Saturn will set just before 10:30 pm at the start of October, but as the month goes on, it will set earlier and earlier, around 8:30 pm by October 31.

Starting in mid-October, the Orionid meteor shower will decorate our skies. This annual meteor shower occurs from October 16-27 and is made up of debris left from Halley’s Comet. At its peak on October 21, it will produce about 20 meteors, or shooting stars, per hour.


Early Morning Observing

With the sun rising just after 6 am in October, the hours of 4 am and 5 am will be nice and dark for early-rising observers. In these morning hours the shape of Kaheiheionākeiki (Child’s Cat’s Cradle), which shares the same stars as Orion the Hunter, will be high up in the southern part of the sky. The first star to rise in Orion’s belt is known as Melemele (Mintaka); it rises exactly east and is used as a marker for the Star Compass house of Hikina.

Before the Sun rises, the bright planet Venus and the red planet Mars will rise in the east. At the start of the month these two planets will appear close together and will even be in conjunction on October 5, with a separation of less than 1 degree. At the start of the month both planets will rise just before 5 am; then Venus will rise later and later, and the planets will slowly move apart. By month’s end, Mars will rise around 4 am, but Venus will not rise until an hour later, at about 5 am.

The planet Venus is often referred to as “the morning star,” as it is one of the last objects to fade from our sky at daybreak. Venus’ thick atmosphere reflects a significant amount of light, making it one of the brightest objects in the sky. Through a pair of binoculars or a telescope, observers can see Venus waxing and waning, just as the Moon does. This happens because Venus is closer to the Sun than Earth is, and thus exhibits constant shifts in the phases of its daytime and nighttime sides as it orbits the Sun. At the beginning of the month observers will be able to catch a sliver of Venus’ night side; this sliver will slowly get smaller and smaller as the month goes on.

Mars is famous for its rusty red color in our night sky; its soil is packed full of iron-rich minerals which have oxidized, or rusted, over time. Unfortunately, Mars doesn’t look particularly remarkable through a simple telescope. However, we do get fantastic images from the NASA orbiters and rovers which are carefully studying the unique contours and history of the red planet.


Moon Phases for October

Full Moon: 8:40 am HST, Thursday October 5

Last Quarter Moon: 2:25 am HST, Thursday October 12

New Moon: 9:12 am HST, Thursday October 19

First Quarter Moon: 12:22 pm HST, Friday, October 27

The Moon’s phase is determined by its position in relation to the Sun and the Earth. The designations of Full, Last Quarter, New and First Quarter Moon refer to specific orientations of the Moon, Sun and Earth. Listed above are the exact times the Moon will be in the precise orientation; however the Moon will not necessarily be visible in Hawai‘i’s sky at the specific time. As the Moon is incredibly bright in the sky, the best time to do stargazing without its interference will be the week around New Moon (October 19).

Sep 14 17

‘Imiloa Hosts Tenth Annual Wayfinding Festival

by Brea Aamoth

Honor the art, science and culture of oceanic navigation at ʻImiloa’s Tenth Annual Wayfinding Festival, sponsored by the Ama OluKai Foundation, on Sunday, October 29, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. This year’s theme, Bringing Home Lessons of the Worldwide Voyage, will feature a special panel discussion with crewmembers from the recently completed Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage, along with exciting wa‘a (canoe) activities themed around Hawai‘i’s iconic double-hulled sailing canoe, Hōkūleʻa. Come learn about the epic 3-year journey of Hōkūleʻa, which traveled 42,000 nautical miles, visiting 150 ports in more than 20 countries, while training a new generation of navigators, educators, scientists and community stewards.











“‘Imiloa’s Wayfinding Festival is our way of honoring our deep sea voyaging ancestors who sailed across the open ocean using the light of the stars to guide them to new lands.  And at the same time it is a chance to celebrate our modern day navigators who are transmitting celestial navigation skills into the next generation,” says Ka‘iu Kimura, ‘Imiloa’s Executive Director. “And, of course, our major focus this year is applauding the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage and the successful completion of Hōkūleʻa’s epic journey across the globe. ‘Imiloa was privileged to be able to join Hōkūleʻa during her stops in New York City and Washington, D.C. in 2016. Following her 3-year long-distance journey has truly been an honor for our entire community and we’re thrilled to have returned crewmembers share their experiences and ‘ike (knowledge) with us at ‘Imiloa’s upcoming Wayfinding Festival.

The festival will also reprise the very popular Wa‘a Iron Chef Contest, in which crewmember contestants are challenged to get creative preparing a meal using a galley box limited to foods and tools typically available on a voyaging canoe. Watch the cooking contest go down as crewmembers compete to create the ‘ono winning dish! Keiki will be able to enjoy indoor and outdoor voyaging activities, and all are invited to take advantage of special planetarium programming and full access to ‘Imiloa’s interactive Exhibit Hall.


If you’ve ever wondered what sailing on Hōkūleʻa is like, or if you just want to hear more about our trials, tribulations and triumphs at sea, then don’t miss this event,” says Kālepa Baybayan, ‘Imiloa’s Navigator-in-Residence, and Captain of Hōkūleʻa. “On hand at the festival will be many crewmembers who have spent many days and nights on Hōkūleʻa.  Come hear their stories and learn the basics of wayfinding, including the Hawaiian Star Compass!


‘Imiloa is very grateful to the Ama OluKai Foundation for sponsorship of the Tenth Annual Wayfinding Festival. “The Ama OluKai Foundation is proud to support the historic return of Hōkūleʻa and its celestial navigators,” says Dan McInerny, Executive Director of the Ama OluKai Foundation. “The Wayfinding Festival promises to be another terrific event hosted by our friends at ‘Imiloa as we share in the celebration of Hawaiian culture, its ancestral past and exploration.

Sep 1 17

Maunakea Skies Talk: Stories from the Submillimeter Sky

by Imiloa Astronomy Center

‘Imiloa presents Miriam Fuchs, Telescope Operator and Outreach Specialist at the Submillimeter Array
Date: Fri. Sept. 15
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Cost: $10, $8 for members (member level discounts apply)

Astronomers look to the skies above to probe the mysteries of the cosmos, but what can we learn when studying the universe in submillimeter wavelengths? This relatively unexplored region of the electromagnetic spectrum promises exciting answers to some of the most pressing questions in astrophysics, such as “how are planets and stars formed?” Discover answers to these deep-space questions at ‘Imiloa’s Maunakea Skies talk with Miriam Fuchs, Telescope Operator and Outreach Specialist at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory’s Submillimeter Array (SMA) on Friday, September 15 at 7:00 p.m.


Photo by: Nmesh Patel


The SMA is an 8-element interferometer telescope located atop Maunakea and is uniquely suited to observe cold interstellar material. This extraordinary technology has helped astronomers make impressive strides towards deepening our understanding of how stars, planets and the earliest galaxies in our universe have formed. Fuchs will share stories of the technological innovations that pave the way for submillimeter astronomy and exciting discoveries made by the SMA on Maunakea.


Known as “Aunty Mimi” around the island, Fuchs brings her passion for the universe to children through dynamic live science shows at local libraries, schools, festivals and events on Hawai‘i Island. After receiving her BS in Astrophysics from Haverford College in Pennsylvania, she worked as a science educator at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia and the North Carolina Museum of Life and Science in Durham. She joined the SMA in April of 2016 and enjoys the variety of extensive studies on Maunakea as well as connecting with her island community through outreach visits.


Maunakea Skies presentations are held on the third Friday of each month. General admission tickets are $10, $8 for members. 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.

Sep 1 17

‘Imiloa Welcomes Home Kālepa Baybayan, Captain and Senior Crew Member on the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage

by Imiloa Astronomy Center

‘Imiloa is very excited to welcome back Chad Kālepa Baybayan, newly returned to Hawai’i after three years as Captain and senior crew member on the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage (2014-2017).  Kālepa is resuming his position as ‘Imiloa’s navigator-in-residence, a role in which he will lead the continuing development of ‘Imiloa’s diverse portfolio of wayfinding-themed educational curricula, activities and materials.

‘Imiloa will host a special evening with Kālepa, when he will present his experiences and reflections on the Worldwide Voyage in a talk on “Bringing Home the Lessons of the Worldwide Voyage.” The event is scheduled for Friday, September 22, 2017, at 7:00 pm in Moanahōkū Hall. Don’t miss an opportunity to hear a firsthand report on the epic journey of the iconic double-hulled sailing canoe, Hōkūle’a, which traveled 42,000 nautical miles over 3 years, visiting 150 ports in over 20 countries, while training a new generation of navigators, educators, scientists and community stewards. Kālepa will discuss the lessons learned through the Worldwide Voyage and its mission to grow a global movement to “mālama honua,” or care for our place on island earth and its people. And he will share ideas for how those experiences can be applied here at home to educate a new generation to explore and honor our connections with earth, sea and sky.


Kālepa Baybayan has been an active participant in the Polynesian voyaging renaissance since 1975. In 2007 he was one of five Hawaiian men initiated into the order of Pwo, a two thousand year old society of deep-sea navigators, by their teacher, Master Navigator Mau Piailug on the island of Satawal. Kālepa has served as ‘Imiloa’s first Navigator-in Residence since his appointment in 2009, and we are thrilled to welcome him home!


Space is limited so be sure to purchase your tickets early! Member ticket pricing is $8 for UHH/HawCC Student, Kupuna, Individual, Dual, and Family Members; $6 for Patron Members; Free for Silver, Gold, and Corporate Members. General admission tickets are $10. Pre-purchase tickets at the ‘Imiloa front desk or by phone at 932-8901.

Aug 16 17

Explore the 2017 Solar Eclipse

by Imiloa Astronomy Center

View the eclipse from multiple locations and perspectives, moving back and forth in time and space!

In NASA‘s interactive, web-based 3D simulation, you can click anywhere on the Earth to preview your view of the August 21st, 2017 total eclipse!

When utilizing this app, we first see the Earth with the shadow of the moon on it. The largest circle is the part of the moon’s shadow called the penumbra, which will partially block the sun. The tiniest circle along the thin line in the center is called the umbra, and it is the only location where you can see a total eclipse of the sun. Click and drag on the Earth to move it around, or zoom in with your mouse to get close to the surface. You can simply click on any location to see an inset of the sun, and it will show how much the moon will block it during the eclipse. You can click and drag inside the inset window to change the time, or use the vertical time bar on the right side of the screen to go forward and backward over the three hour and twelve minute time frame that the eclipse happens in North America.

You can click on the “plus” button at the bottom of the screen and type in any city you want, and add it to the list of cities, like adding a bookmark. Then you can easily switch between various locations. The simulation is pre-loaded with the views for Kansas City, Los Angeles, and Miami.

Next to the cities list is an icon of the Earth. Click on it to select alternate views, like the perspective from behind the far side of the moon, or have a look at the entire Earth/Moon/Sun system over two years to see why eclipses don’t happen frequently.

A total eclipse of the sun is one of the most awe-inspiring natural phenomena in the world, so be sure to make your plans to see it well in advance!

REMEMBER: DO NOT look directly at the sun during the eclipse without proper solar filters! You could severely damage your eyes.

Having trouble viewing? Visit NASA’s web-based version by Clicking Here.

Aug 14 17

‘Ōhiʻa Love Fest: A FREE Festival Celebrating ‘Ōhiʻa Trees

by Brea Aamoth

Join us for the ‘Ōhiʻa Love Fest on Sunday, August 27 from 9am-4pm at ‘Imiloa for a fun FREE festival celebrating ‘ōhiʻa trees! There will be live music, entertainment, Rapid ‘Ōhiʻa Death (ROD) information, talks, games, prizes, face painting, a photo booth, educational booths and displays, crafts, demonstrations on how to reduce the spread of Rapid ‘Ōhiʻa Death, free admission into ‘Imiloa, food, and so much more!


The schedule of events includes a hula performance by hula hālau Nā Wahine a nā kane punahele ‘o ka pu‘uwai, music by the Bioblitz Band, a presentation on ‘ōhiʻa traditions of Hawaiian culture, ʻōhiʻa seed banking, Rapid ‘Ōhiʻa Death science updates, Taiko drumming by Hui Okinawa Kubodo Taiko and so much more! “We are so excited to host the First Annual ʻŌhiʻa Love Fest, as it is our hope to bring the community together to celebrate ʻōhiʻa trees, their importance in our native ecosystems, our culture and as a collector of fresh water,” said Anya Tagawa, Outreach and Education Specialist at the Department of Land and Natural Resources. “This is a free community event that has something special for all ages, so please mark your calendars and join us on Sunday, August 27!”

Photo by: JB Friday

‘Imiloa will be offering $10 off all levels of membership, whether you are new to ‘Imiloa or renewing your membership. This discount will be reserved for memberships purchased on-site on Sunday, August 27. Even if your membership isn’t about to expire, you are welcome to take advantage of this discount and renew early!


‘Ōhiʻa Love Fest is proudly hosted and sponsored by: The Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife, the University of Hawai’i, Hawai’i County Council Member Eileen OʻHara, the Kaulunani Urban and Community Forestry Program. This event in in collaboration with the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center.

Photo by: JB Friday

This will be a zero-waste event, so don’t forget your reusable water bottle! We’ll have free refill-stations with ice-cold water! For more information about Rapid ‘Ohi’a Death please visit: and

Aug 8 17

Utilizing Hawaiian Basalt to Learn How to Build on Other Planets

by Brea Aamoth

‘Imiloa presents Rodrigo Romo, PISCES Program Manager 

Date: Fri. Aug. 18
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Cost: $10, $8 for members (member level discounts apply)

If we are going to build a base on another planet or moon, we will need to learn how to utilize available resources as construction materials. Some of these materials are found right here on Hawai‘i Island, including our Hawaiian basalt. Learn more about the search for quality construction materials at ‘Imiloa’s Maunakea Skies talk with Rodrigo Romo, Program Manager at the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES) on Friday, August 18 at 7:00 p.m.

Basalt is a volcanic rock formed from the rapid cooling of basaltic lava. Volcanoes in Hawai‘i primarily erupt basalt, and have a relatively high fluidity that favors the formation of lava flows. “We have conducted chemical analysis on the composition of Hawaiian basalt using samples collected at various locations on Hawai‘i Island,” says Romo. “We’ve found that some of these samples closely resemble lunar regolith (fine dust) in composition. This makes our local basalt an ideal lunar simulant, and we are using it to research how we can harness the basalt found on the Moon as a construction material.”

PISCES has been involved in researching various methods through which Hawaiian basalt can be utilized to produce quality construction materials. This work has been done in collaboration with NASA and Honeybee Robotics, and has led to various research proposals that are currently being evaluated. In his talk, Romo will present an update of the work being done in this field of study.


Rodrigo Romo originates from Guadalajara, Mexico where he obtained his degree in Chemical Engineering. He joined PISCES in 2014 as a Project Manager and has over 25 years of experience in Project Management. He has been interested in space exploration and the development of sustainable materials ever since his experience as a crewmember during Biosphere 2’s second manned mission in the Arizona desert in 1994.


Maunakea Skies 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.

About PISCES: 
PISCES is a state-funded Hawai’i aerospace center under the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT). The Hilo-based agency is working to position the state as a leader in space exploration while developing sustainable products and technologies that benefit the islands. Through applied business, workforce development and long-term business and economics development, PISCES provides hands-on experience to Hawai’i’s future scientists and engineers, preparing them to meet the demands of a highly competitive industry while improving the local economy through job diversification, innovative products and new industries.

Jun 28 17

Astronomy’s Limitless Journey

by Brea Aamoth

‘Imiloa presents Dr. Günther Hasinger, Director of the Institute for Astronomy

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

When observing the sky on a very clear, dark night, one can see the soft glow of the Milky Way and its thousands of stars with the naked eye. Over the centuries since Galileo first pointed a telescope at the galaxy in 1609, this awe-inspiring yet easily visible panorama constituted our cosmos, our entire celestial world. With each new scientific discovery, however, this cosmos has grown dramatically, expanding rapidly over the last several decades. As we look deeper into space, the earlier phases of the cosmos are unveiled to us, but we know that even with the largest telescopes, we see only a tiny fraction of the vast expanse of the universe. Learn more about this quest to understand our universe at ‘Imiloa’s next Maunakea Skies talk with Dr. Günther Hasinger, Director of the Institute for Astronomy and author of Astronomy’s Limitless Journey, on Friday, July 21 at 7:00 p.m.

In Astronomy’s Limitless Journey, Dr. Hasinger takes the reader on an exciting time travel journey to the far reaches of the universe, beginning with the incredibly hot fireball of the Big Bang roughly 13.8 billion years ago, and the suspected ending in distant eons with a cold, dark demise. In between is the period during which extensive structures, galaxies, stars and planets were formed.


Astrophysics and cosmology are experiencing a “golden age” due to larger telescopes, faster computers and more sophisticated algorithms. These fundamental changes are taking place in our understanding of space and time and of the origin and future of our universe. Dr. Hasinger details this evolution and describes the methods utilized in modern astrophysics, while cautioning that the boundaries between knowledge and ignorance are constantly shifting. Every new discovery opens a further door to the unknown, and with every answered question, we discover more locked doors yet to be opened.


Dr. Hasinger is a world leader in the field of X-ray astronomy and in the study of black holes. He received both his physics diploma and his PhD in Astronomy from Ludwig Maximillian University (LMU) of Munich, Germany. He served as the Director of the Astrophysical Institute Potsdam from 1994 to 2001. In 2001 he was appointed as the Director of the High-Energy-Group at Max Planck Society (MPE), one of the world’s premier research organizations. In 2008 he became the Director of the University of Hawai‘i Institute for Astronomy. University of Hawai‘i Press published Astronomy’s Limitless Journey in October 2015.


Maunakea Skies 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.

Jun 1 17

How to “Photograph” a Black Hole

by Emily Peavy

Reflection on Maunakea Skies: A Telescope the Size of the Earth with  Dr. Alison Peck, representing Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA)

Black holes are the enigmatic, mysterious objects that populate our sci-fi movies and excite our imaginations. Scientifically, black holes are objects that are so dense that gravity has collapsed them into a singularity and light can no longer escape the object’s gravity. Black holes are typically found by looking for their effects on nearby objects. This is how astronomers discovered the supermassive black hole in the center of the Milky Way galaxy, named Sgr A*.

This data observes stars that orbit Sgr A*. Made from images taken over 10 years with 8.2-m VLT YEPUN telescope at the Paranal Observatory, operated by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chile and published in the scientific journal, Nature.


Now that black holes have been discovered, scientists want to know, is there a way to detect them directly? Astronomers utilize a technique known as Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI)  which simulates large telescopes by linking smaller arrays of radio telescopes together. This process increases the angular resolution that can be obtained. The resolution required to observe the event horizon of Sgr A* has the equivalence of attempting to observe a grapefruit on the moon from Earth. Thus the Event Horizon Telescope links arrays from around the world to create ‘a telescope the size of the Earth.’ This scale of VLBI has never been done before and will create a new precedence of resolution that can be obtained with this method.  


What can we expect to see?
Astronomers have already used the Event Horizon project to capture more data from Sgr A* hopefully getting a peek at its event horizon. As we wait for this data to be processed and analyzed, we can simulate what we might find based on different scenarios. Below we have simulation models testing different circumstances.

“Remember, it takes scientists a long time to interpret the data and understand what’s really going on,” Dr. Peck concluded. “So we have to be patient, let them analyze the data, discuss it with all of these groups, and then hopefully they will show us the real data and some art that will help us understand what it really means.”

This Simulation shows black holes with different inclination angles that will help scientists interpret results
Credit: Joshua C. Dolence

This simulation compares what we can expect based on how many telescopes participate. The images on the left are 2 models while the center sees the models with 7 telescopes, and the right sees the models with 13 telescopes. Currently the Event Horizon Telescope utilizes 8 telescopes.

Credit: Doeleman et. al. using models by Gammie and Broderick

Join us for our next Maunakea Skies talk titled ‘The Search for the Origin of Gold” with Dr. Michitoshi Yoshida, Director of Subaru Telescope on Friday, June 16 at 7pm. 

May 24 17

The Search for the Origin of Gold

by Brea Aamoth

‘Imiloa presents Dr. Michitoshi Yoshida, Director of Subaru Telescope

Date: Fri. June  16
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Cost: $10, $8 for members (member level discounts apply)
Gold is one of the most coveted and valuable natural materials in the world, but where does it come from and how was it originally formed? It may be a surprise, but scientists are still searching for the definite answer to this question. Learn more about this valued stone and the science behind it at ‘Imiloa’s next Maunakea Skies talk titled The Search for the Origin of Gold on Friday, June 16 at 7:00 p.m. with Dr. Michitoshi Yoshida, Director of Subaru Telescope.


Scientists have discovered how most natural materials on Earth were originally created. The majority of lighter chemical elements in the universe were synthesized by fusion reactions inside of stars. Heavier elements such as silver, mercury and titanium are formed by a “neutron capture” reaction. This reaction has two processes: slow capture process (s-process), which can form mercury, titanium and lead atoms; and rapid capture process (r-process) which forms atoms of gold and platinum. The site of s-process is well known as the central regions of dying stars. However the site of the r-process, the creation of gold, has not yet been identified. In other words, we don’t know the birthplace of gold, and scientists are on the hunt to discover it.


One candidate for the creation of gold is in the process of merging neutron stars, which are extremely dense remnants of massive stars. When two neutron stars merge, a giant explosion occurs and the neutron-rich environment in the explosion would drive the r-process to synthesize gold. Such an event has yet to be observed, so the search for the creation of gold continues. Using state of the art gravitational wave detectors, many astronomers and physicists are now searching for the birthplace of gold by implementing multi-wavelength electromagnetic observations of these gravitational waves. Dr. Yoshida will introduce these trials, including some attempts made with the Subaru Telescope that resides on Maunakea.

Dr. Yoshida was born and raised in Kyoto, Japan. He received his PhD from Kyoto University, and his career as a professional astronomer began at Okayama Astrophysical Observatory (OAO), which is a branch of National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ). In 1995 he came to Hilo in support of the initial construction of the Subaru Telescope, also a branch of NAOJ. After the construction he returned back to OAO and became its Director. He was also named Director of the Hiroshima University from 2010 to 2017 until recently being appointed Director of Subaru Telescope this April 2017. Dr. Yoshida’s main research field is optical-infrared observational astronomy of galaxies and high-energy transient objects. He has recently gained interest in gravitational waves and its relation to astronomical phenomena.


Maunakea Skies presentations are held on the third Friday of each month. Please note that this months talk will be held in Moanahōkū Hall. 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.