Night time long exposure landscape photography. A man standing in a high place looking up in wonder to the Milky Way galaxy, photo composite.

Activities that can be done by many of our astronomers, and we can transport to all islands:
  1. Nighttime stargazing
    Join astronomers from the UH Institute for Astronomy and check out some of the wonders of the night sky. We provide the telescopes, binoculars, and experts. Works for all ages, requires post-sunset time.
    2. Scale model solar system activity (all ages)
    Explore the solar system in a fun and interactive activity. Learn how big (or small) our home planet is, and how the sizes and distances of the planets in our solar system compare.
    Requires a small indoor space to start the activity. Then we need a long (100’+) corridor or outdoor space to set up the model. Can be done on a walkway, field, sidewalk – completely portable.
    3. Daytime sun viewing (all ages)
    Learn a little about how the Sun works, and then view the Sun through specially filtered binoculars and telescopes. See sunspots, filaments and flares (if there are any). Requires outdoor area from which to view Sun. We provide all the equipment.
    4. Learning with Light – how astronomers learn what things in space are made of, and what are their temperatures (all ages)
    See how astronomers use the light given of by planets, stars, and galaxies to understand their composition and temperature.
    This activity requires an indoor space and power. We set up electric lamps with various gases and attendees will use hand-held spectrographs to see the different colors of light they emit, and use that to figure out what they are. We can also show how we measure temperature using the colors of light from certain types of objects. We provide all equipment.
    5. The phases of the moon
    An interactive, hands on activity to demonstrate what causes the phases of the moon. A brief (15 minute) introductory talk is followed by an activity using attendees to model the Sun, Earth and Moon.
    ==========================================
    We also offer the following talks on astronomy topics, by IfA astronomers who have volunteered to give these talks:
    ==========================================
    Dr. Karen Meech (metro Honolulu/Windward side of Oahu only, middle school-adult)
    1. Comets and Asteroids Behaving Badly – when the Unexpected Occurs
    I will highlight some recent comet discoveries that were unexpected, didn’t live up to
    the hype, or were really exciting . . . . . In particular I will talk about comet ISON’s (not so) spectacular
    perihelion passage, splitting comets, splitting asteroids and why we aren’t always able to predict
    this — and why this is exciting!
    2. The Red Planet: Mission to Mars!
    The allure of Mars for the possibility of life has intrigued the public imagination ever since we could see details on the surface in telescopic views. Come share in the exploration of Mars looking at some of the most interesting Mars discoveries from past and current missions. I will present some exciting images and science currently coming from the Mars Science Laboratory’s Curiosity rover. Talk is in 3D.
    3. The Apocalypse — Scientific look at threats to Humanity . . .
    In 2012 there was a media hype about the end of the world as predicted by Mayan calendars. Nothing bad came to pass, and dawn arrived calmly on January 1, 2013. However . . . . scary science fiction scenarios pale in comparison to the real scientific possibilities for the end of life on planet earth. Come explore an interdisciplinary look at what the possibilities are.
    ==========================================
    Dr. Nader Haghighipour (all islands, teen to adult)
    Title: “Tatooine: More Science, Less Fiction”
    During the past 15 years, astronomers have discovered many planets orbiting one or both
    stars of a dual-star system. These worlds with two suns present very interesting cases
    for studying habitability as they are subject to radiation from two stars. Dr. Haghighipour will
    present a review of the detection of planets in binary stars, and discuss how life can originate
    on these planets and sustain for a long time.
    ==========================================
    Dr. Michael Liu (all islands, talks for HS and older)
    1. “Exoplanet Cornucopia”
    We have now identified over 1,000 planetary systems besides our own, spawning a golden age of understanding of worlds around other stars as well as our own place in the cosmos. In this talk, Dr. Liu will share some of the amazing discoveries being made and what they tell us about our cosmic origins.
    2. “Seeing the Invisible”
    Dr. Liu describes brown dwarfs, the Sun’s tiny, “hidden neighbors” and other celestial mysteries.
    ==========================================
    Dr. Jonathan Williams (all islands)
    1. Title: “Fun Facts About the Universe” – kid friendly
    Description: Learn amazing things about planets, stars, and galaxies in a short, interactive tour of the solar system and beyond
    2. “Astronomy and the Meaning of Life” – teens & adults
    What happened, from the Big Bang, to the first stars and the creation of elements, to the formation of planets and ultimately life, for us to be here? Are we alone? What is our fate? What is our legacy?
    ==========================================
    Dr. Harald Ebeling (all islands, teens & older)
    1. “Giants in Space: The extreme life and times of galaxy clusters”
    Galaxies like our Milky Way often reside in groups of galaxies. This presentation introduces you to the largest of such concentrations, massive galaxy clusters that started to form billions of years ago and have grown to become miniature universes in their own right. Learn about gas so hot it emits X-rays, violent cluster collisions, and vast amounts of dark matter that bend light as predicted by Einstein.
    2. “Dark Matter Illuminated: Shining a light on the invisible”
    The visible sky we see at night, composed of planets, stars, and galaxies, represents only a tiny fraction of the matter in our Universe. The vast majority is dark and mysterious. In this presentation we will explore the evidence for the existence of dark matter and learn of the ingenious ways in which astronomers attempt to detect and characterize the invisible substance that pervades the cosmos.
    3. “Cosmic Flows: The ever-changing structure of our Universe”
    “Everything moves.” This is true not just for asteroids and planets, but even for entire galaxies like our Milky Way, the cause of all motions being the inescapable pull of gravity. This presentation explains how gravity causes giant flows of matter over enormous distances. Meet the Local Void, the Great Attractor, and the Dark Flow, and learn about the forces that shape and change the fabric of the Universe on scales of billions of lightyears.
    4. “Galaxy Interactions: Fleeting encounters and cosmic collisions”
    Galaxies come in a vast range of shapes and sizes, from spiral galaxies like our Milky Way to giant spheres of stars called elliptical galaxies. They were not born this way though. This presentation introduces you to the diverse population of the “galaxy zoo” and reveals the violent interactions that can destroy entire galaxies as new ones are being formed.
    ==========================================
    Dr. Bo Reipurth (downtown Hilo library preferred, can do others on Hilo side of Hawaii Island); talks for adult audiences
    *Note: Not available June-August
    1. ”The Birth of Stars and Planets”
    How did the Sun and the Earth originate? Modern observing techniques with big telescopes have allowed us to peer into giant dark clouds that float among the stars and from which new stars are born. The birth of stars is a violent and chaotic process, and yet out of this chaos, orderly planetary systems are formed. Until recently we only knew the planets in our solar system, but now thousands of planets have been discovered around other stars.
    2. “Moons, moons everywhere”
    Our Moon appears serene when we see it in the sky, but it has had a dramatic past, and its presence has allowed life as we know it to develop on Earth. Other planets in the solar system have many more planets, small worlds that are very different from one another, some of which may have conditions for the emergence of life. I will tour these mini-worlds of our solar system.
    ==========================================
    Dr. Gareth Wynn-Williams (all islands, all ages, Jan – May and Nov-Dec)
    1. The Antikythera Mechanism”
    In the year 1900 Greek divers exploring a shipwreck from the first century BCE found several heavily encrusted pieces of bronze that appeared to contain gear wheels and astronomical symbols. Recent X-ray mages of these remnants has revealed them to be part of a mechanical astrpnomical computing device of astonishing complexity that is forcing us to reevaluate some of our ideas about the history of engineering.
    2. “Searching for ET”
    Most professional astronomers are skeptical about UFOs, but open to the possibility that intelligent life might exist elsewhere in the Galaxy. Searches for signals from alien civilizations have been carried out at a number of radioastronomy observatories over the last 50 years, but the recent discovery that Earth-sized planets are relatively common has added a new sense of excitement to the search.
    3. “Asteroids: Minor Planets or Major threats?”
    Asteroids have been studied since the beginning of the 19th century, but the potential danger that they pose has been appreciated only recently. Dr Wynn-Williams will discuss the evidence for historical asteroid impacts, as well as the astronomical surveys that are now being undertaken to find potentially hazardous objects in the Solar System.
    ==========================================
    Dr. Roberto H. Mendez (all islands, for teen-adult audience)
    “Beyond Earth: strategies for long-term human survival”
    Our Earth is not a safe place. Geological and paleontological evidence indicates that the history of life on Earth is punctuated by several mass extinction episodes. If we want to optimize our chances of survival in the really long term (millions of years), we must first colonize the Solar System and then spread across the Milky Way galaxy. The purpose of this talk is to describe a plausible strategy that does NOT depend on finding Earth-like planets around other stars.
    ==========================================
    Dr. Ben Shappee (all islands, teen and older)
    1. “Kilonova! The Discovery of the First Neutron Star – Neutron star merger”
    2. “The Most Luminous Supernova Ever Discovered”
    3. “Exploring the Variable Universe”
    ==========================================
    Dr. J.D. Armstrong (preferably Maui, Lanai ok, all ages)
    1. “How A Telescope Works”
    Modern telescopes are powerful enough to see a candle on the moon and can cost over a billion dollars to construct. They significantly increase our understanding of the universe. The human eye, the world’s largest telescopes, and phone cameras all have remarkably similar designs. In this talk, I will give simple geometric explanations of some of the fantastic optical systems.
    2. “The Properties of Asteroids”
    It has been two centuries since the first asteroid was discovered. We now know of about half a million asteroids. But what are they? Where did they come from? Where are they going? How do we know?
    3. “What Makes The Sun Shine? An Introduction to Solar Physics”
    The Sun is the dominant driver of Earth’s climate. Almost all the energy we use here on Earth comes from the Sun. We will follow the travels of a photon from where it is generated in the core of the Sun until it reaches Earth. Along the way we will visit many of the interesting tourist attractions.
    4. Exoplanets: Discovering New worlds
    Scientists have discovered over 350 “exoplanets” – planets orbiting other stars. These new worlds could harbor new life and new civilizations. But when we look at stars with even the most powerful telescopes we see only a point of light. Somewhere in that point of light is the planets that scientists claim to detect. How can we tell from just a point of light that there are planets, their size and mass? If these planets exist, what does it tell us about the possibility cosmic neighbors?
    ==========================================
    Will Best
    “The Beautiful Colors of Stars” (pre-teen – adult, all islands)
    Have you ever noticed that stars have colors? These colors add beauty to the night skies, and they also contain secrets about what our universe is made of. We’ll talk about different and rare kinds of stars and what we know simply from their colors.

PROGRAM DETAIL

“Nighttime stargazing”
Audience: all ages, nighttime only
Program
Join astronomers from the UH Institute for Astronomy and check out some of the wonders of the night sky. We provide the telescopes, binoculars, and experts.

“Scale model solar system activity”
Audience: all ages
Program
Explore the solar system in a fun and interactive activity. Learn how big (or small) our home planet is, and how the sizes and distances of the planets in our solar system compare.
Requires a small indoor space to start the activity. Then we need a long (100’+) corridor or outdoor space to set up the model. Can be done on a walkway, field, sidewalk – completely portable.

“Daytime sun viewing”
Audience: all ages
Program
Learn about how the sun works, and then view the Sun through specially filtered binoculars and telescopes. See sunspots, filaments and flares (if there are any). Requires outdoor area from which to view sun. We provide all the equipment. Power-point based presentation included, requires projector and screen.

“Learning with Light – how astronomers learn what things in space are made of, and what are their temperatures”
Audience: all ages
See how astronomers use the light given of by planets, stars, and galaxies to understand their composition and temperature.
This activity requires an indoor space, power, a projector and screen. We set up electric lamps with various gases and attendees will use hand-held spectrographs to see the different colors of light they emit, and use that to figure out what they are. We can also show how we measure temperature using the colors of light from certain types of objects. We provide all equipment except for projector/screen.

“The Phases of the Moon”
Audience: all ages
An interactive, hands on activity to demonstrate what causes the phases of the moon. A brief (15 minute) introductory talk is followed by an activity using attendees to model the Sun, Earth and Moon.

PERFORMANCE NEEDS

See each program in detail for specific needs.

For information on booking click here.