Tag Archives: Imiloa Astronomy Center

President Obama Announces Kamaaina Observatory Experience at Mauna Kea

It’s an honor for the best telescope in the world to be sited on our Maunakea. And it’s very appropriate for the President of the United States, a local boy, to highlight the great contributions of our astronomy sector. It’s also very appropriate that some of our voyaging people from the Hokule‘a were present when he acknowledged those contributions.

This is the spirit of “Not, no can. Can!!”

These are the things that Hawaiians are noted for!

“This is an extremely exciting time, with President Obama’s announcement underscoring the significance of Maunakea and Hawaii to astronomy,” said Henry Yang, Chair of the TMT International Observatory Board. “TMT is honored to be a part of Hawaii’s astronomy community. We remain committed to integrating science and culture, providing the best possible stewardship of the mountain, and enriching the local community through education and outreach programs.”

Free Monthly Community Event to Welcome Hawaii Residents to the Maunakea Observatories

The Maunakea Observatories and Imiloa Astronomy Center announced the Kamaaina Observatory Experience, a monthly community event that welcomes Hawaii residents to the science reserve atop Maunakea to see world-class telescopes and learn about the cultural and environmental importance of the mountain.Hamakua Springs

The Kamaaina Observatory Experience was introduced yesterday in a speech by President Barack Obama at the White House Astronomy Night in Washington, D.C. The event, held on the South Lawn of the White House, brought together scientists, engineers and visionaries from astronomy and the space industry, including guests from Hawaii’s Imiloa Astronomy Center, Gemini Observatory and the Polynesian Voyaging Society, who shared an evening of stargazing and learning with students and teachers.

“We were honored to represent Hawaii’s tremendous contributions to the world of astronomy, education and culture on the White House lawn tonight,” said Kaiu Kimura, executive director of Imiloa Astronomy Center. “As part of Imiloa’s partnership with the Maunakea Observatories, we look forward to sharing these contributions with even more of our friends and ohana at home in Hawaii through the Kamaaina Observatory Experience.”

Hamakua Springs The new program will occur once a month and will include transportation to and from the summit and the Visitor Information Station, a cultural briefing, a one-hour safety and environmental briefing at Hale Pohaku, and a one-and-a-half hour visit to two of the Maunakea Observatories-the most scientifically productive collection of telescopes on earth. Participation will be free of charge and open to all Hawaii residents.

“The Kamaaina Observatory Experience will be the first program of its kind in the 50-year history of astronomy on Maunakea,” said Doug Simons, executive director of the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT). “The Maunakea Observatories make Hawaii one of the most respected sites on earth for astronomical discovery. It is our sincere hope that this program will inspire a passion among kamaaina for astronomy and an appreciation for the cultural and environmental future of Maunakea.”

Participating Maunakea Observatories in the program will include the CFHT, Gemini Observatory, the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (EAO), NASA Infrared Telescope Facility, Subaru Telescope,
Submillimeter Array, the W.M. Keck Observatory, and in the future, the Thirty Meter Telescope.

The Kamaaina Observatory Experience will launch in early 2016 and will be open once a month to individuals 16 and older with a valid Hawai’i ID. Registration is required and will be available online on a first come, first served basis.

For more information about the Kamaaina Observatory Experience and to reserve a spot for an upcoming tour, visit www.kamaainaobservatoryexperience.org.

White House photo CC BY-SA 3.0 


Thirty Meter Telescope Receives Final Approval!

Richard Ha writes:

Today the Land Board approved the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT). That's the final word. It's over.

Along with several others, I attended the Land Board meeting today in Honolulu where they heard testimony. Then they went into executive session and made their decision. 

It's hard for me to find the words to say how important this is.

Last night I attended a presentation at ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of students from about ten different high schools from around the world. Each gave a scientific report and they were so high-level they were just mind-boggling. One was some kids from India describing how to measure the mass of the Milky Way. They went into every little step of how a planet forms and dies, and it was evident they hadn't memorized anything, they actually knew it. It gives you so much faith in human beings and their ability to think and do these kinds of great things.

There was also a presentation by high school students from Keaukaha on how to make a koa and fiberglass canoe. It was much more involved than I would have thought. And a robotics team from Kalani High School that was made up of three girls. One of them told the audience that before she got involved in robotics she was very shy. But now, through robotics, she has discovered a passion for teaching small kids and especially girls. She raised her hand and said, "YES!!" It's amazing to see students achieving what they didn't think they could achieve. 

The Thirty Meter Telescope sponsored this event at ‘Imiloa. There are all sorts of interesting things going on, which we don't necessarily know are happening, because of the Thirty Meter Telescope and its commitment to education.


Here is the testimony I gave this morning to the Board of Land and Natural Resources:

Aloha, everyone,

I have been involved with the TMT project from the beginning and decided to support it because of TMT's efforts to do the right thing for our Big Island. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us. A project like the TMT will never come our way again. The benefits to the Big Island's young people – not just today's generation, but future generations too – is enormous.

The TMT is giving $1 million dollars annually to The Hawaii Island New Knowledge (Think) fund. The annual installments begin next month and last through the ten years of construction and the 50 years of viewing time.  

The Big Island has the lowest median family income in the state, and education is the best predicted of family income. The TMT partner's contribution is strictly discretionary spending. It is money out. There is no money coming in. If we stretch the waiting period too far, we could lose the whole project. 

Time is of the essence. Please do not jeopardize this education fund for our young people.  


Richard Ha

President, Hamakua Springs Country Farms and its 70 workers.

Also representing the Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United. This grass roots organization represents 90 percent of the farm value produced on the Big Island

Also, President of the Big Island Community Coalition. Its steering committee members in their private capacities are:

Dave DeLuz, Jr., President, Big Island Toyota
Rockne Freitas, Former Chancellor, Hawaii Community College
Michelle Galimba, Member, Board of Agriculture and Ka'u rancher
Richard Ha, President, Hamakua Springs Country Farms
Wallace Ishibashi, Former Chair Big island Labor Alliance, DHHL commissioner. 
Kuulei Kealoha Cooper, Trustee of Kealoha Trust
D. Noelani Kalipi, Former Staffer for Senator Akaka. Helped to write the Akaka Bill.  
Ka‘iu Kimura, Executive Director, ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center
H.M. Monty Richards, Kama‘aina Cattle Rancher
Marcia Sakai, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, UH Hilo
Kumu Lehua Veincent, Principal of Kamehameha Schools, Hawai‘i Island campus
William Walters, President, W.H. Shipman., Ltd.