‘Kamaaina Observatory Experience’ announced

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

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

The Kamaaina Observatory Experience was introduced in a speech by President Barack Obama at the White House Astronomy Night in Washington, D.C.

The event brought together scientists and others from astronomy and the space industry, including guests from ‘Imiloa, 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. “As part of ‘Imiloa’s partnership with the Mauna Kea 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.”

The new program will occur once a month and 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 Mauna Kea observatories. Participation will be free 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 Mauna Kea,” said Doug Simons, executive director of the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT). “The Mauna Kea 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 Mauna Kea.”

Participating Mauna Kea 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.

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

For more information and to reserve a spot for an upcoming tour, visit www.kamaainaobservatoryexperience.org.

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