TMT booth at AstroDay in Hilo, Hawaiʻi on May 6, 2023 -
TMT Hilo staff offered activities on exoplanets and information to visitors throughout the day -
Image Credit: TMT International Observatory / Leinani Lozi
On Saturday, May 6, AstroDay was hosted at the Prince Kūhiō Plaza in Hilo to share the joys of astronomy with the local community.
AstroDay is one of the largest public outreach days for the Maunakea Observatories bringing astronomy activities to the Hilo community. This free event has been offered on the island since 2002 and is primarily organized by the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo. Volunteers from Maunakea, Haleakalā and Mauna Loa observatories together with the Hawaiʻi Science and Tech Museum, ʻImiloa Astronomy Center, the Pacific Tsunami Museum and many more engaged with ʻohana, talked story and shared their work in Hawaiʻi science and technology.
“It was the first time I participated in AstroDay in Hawaiʻi and I was happy to see such a big crowd of visitors strolling around the various booths,” said Nanci Preel Dumas, TMT communication specialist. “Kids and their families were excited by the large number of educational activities and entertainment offered throughout the day. It was a great day with a super enthusiastic public! It was a lot of fun to chat with families and be there for this important annual event on Hawaiʻi Island.”
Hundreds of visitors of all ages enjoyed hands-on activities and demonstrations such as Lassoing the Sun like Maui, the demi-god with the UH-Hilo astronomy department, making spectrographs with Gemini Observatory and playing with marbles in a gravity well with the Hawaiʻi Space Flight Laboratory. At the TMT booth, keiki created their own colorful clay exoplanets to take home and ponder on what weather systems and aliens might exist on planets around other stars in our sky.
Imagined exoplanets at TMT booth, AstroDay Hilo 2023 Collage of some exoplanets created by keiki during the event - Image Credit: TMT International Observatory / Angelic Ebbers
If keiki visited a certain number of educational booths, they were able to collect a limited edition Maunakea Observatories coin at the end. This special coin is another annual staple for AstroDay and the Hawaiʻi Island community. The annual Maunakea Coin Contest is open to all Hawaiʻi Island students in grades K to 12 wishing to have their art featured on an aluminum coin. Their designs had to include Maunakea, features of our Hawaiʻi environment, astronomy and culture. Every AstroDay in Hilo opens with an awards ceremony for nine winners of various ages and is a time for these students to be celebrated for their hard work.
“Being part of the Maunakea Coin Contest Committee this year was so rewarding” said Leinani Lozi, Hawaiʻi Community Outreach Specialist at TMT. “Seeing all the awesome designs from our island’s haumāna and working with local artists to pick the winners was so fun and ʻohana really enjoyed the award ceremony. For some of these kids, this is the first time they’ve ever been recognized and applauded for their work in a public space.”
AstroDay in Hilo, Hawaiʻi on May 6, 2023 - The first place overall winner, Lindsey Nicole Julian smiles with her plaque while standing next to her design - Image Credit: TMT International Observatory / Leinani Lozi
AstroDay in Hilo, Hawaiʻi on May 6, 2023 - A Maunakea Coin Contest Winner collects her prize bag and smiles for the camera while being announced and applauded on stage with Uncle Kimo Pihana and Nadine Manset, another Coin Contest Committee member - Image Credit: TMT International Observatory / Leinani Lozi
AstroDay in Hilo, Hawaiʻi on May 6, 2023 - Photo montage of the TMT team at AstroDay, where families could explore activities and STEM projects taking place in the Hawaiʻi community and enjoy experiments from local groups - Image credit: TMT International Observatory / Nanci Preel Dumas