|Thursday / 23 February 2006|
World-Class Public Astronomy Education Facility Opens to Public in Hawaii Tomorrow. Despite being home to what promoters have labeled "Clearly the Best" astrophysics observing location in the world -- the summit of Mauna Kea, and having a steadily climbing support population of over 160,000, Hawai‘i Island's best public space education facility was the small Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka Space Center at the Kona International Airport at Keahole. The Onizuka Center may seem even smaller to students visiting on school field trips starting tomorrow. That's because they can visit the nine-acre ‘Imiloa Astronomy Education Center of Hawai‘i in Hilo, which opens its doors at 09:00. It features the world's largest native Hawaiian plant garden as well as the latest in interactive educational technology. Visitors can journey with the ancient Hawaiians as they discover, explore and settle the Hawaiian Islands by way of celestial navigation. ‘Imiloa tries to connect that history to today by showing how astronomers using Mauna Kea are also exploring and focusing on the stars. Many on Hawai‘i are completely against any development on Mauna Kea, which is sacred, but most understand the benefits gained from astronomy and approve of beneficial, considered development. As the ‘Imiloa website says, "Ahu kupanaha ia Hawai`i `imi loa! -- The Hawaiian value of pursuing new knowledge brings bountiful rewards." These values extend to the Moon, the centerpiece of the ‘Imiloa logo, which features the mountains Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa and Hualalai. Hours are 09:00 to 17:00 on Tuesday through Sunday. Children under four get in free. Island resident admission is US$10 for adults and $5.50 for children, but $14.50 and $7.50, respectively, for island visitors. Info www.imiloahawaii.org.