HVNP staff share volcanic knowledge at astronomy center

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald Pauleen Fredrick talks with guests Friday at Imiloa Astronomy Center in Hilo.
  • STEPHANIE SALMONS / Tribune-Herald Lucy Williams, 5, and her brother, Owen Williams, 9, of Kaimuki, Oahu, learn about lava Friday at ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center. Staff from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park paid a visit to the center to offer updates on the current Kilauea volcano eruption.

A dozen or so people gathered Friday morning at ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center for a down-to-earth lesson about lava.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park staff visited ‘Imiloa to provide updates on the current Kilauea volcano eruption and discuss geology.


On a table set up in front of three large screens were different types of lava rocks, including the stringy strands of Pele’s hair, which are actually thin strands of volcanic glass.

“I’m going to show you lava SpongeBob,” a staffer told the crowd, bringing out a piece of reticulite, which from a distance almost looks like a piece of steel wool.

As the discussion continued, ‘Imiloa and park staff zoomed in and out quickly on satellite images of the Big Island and other islands in the Pacific.

At the table with eager ears was Owen Williams, 9, of Kaimuki, Oahu, who picked up the pieces of lava and examined them. His sister, Lucy, 5, stood next to him.

Alika Williams, Owen’s dad, said his son loves science.

Williams said he spent part of his childhood in Hilo and has family ties to the town. They were visiting for the Independence Day holiday.

Friday was a “museum day” for the family, he said, with a stop at ‘Imiloa among other area museums.

“It’s a history day for my kids,” Williams said. They were directed to the volcano exhibit while walking through another part of the center.

“(‘Imiloa) wasn’t here when I was living here when I was a kid. This is my first time here, so it’s really cool to see all this,” he said. “Especially … with all the action going on with the lava flow, the timing is perfect to see this little presentation.”

Owen said Friday’s presentation was “pretty cool.”


“I get to see something that I actually know,” he said. “It was just pretty cool that I’ve seen a lava bomb crater, but now I get to see a real lava bomb, which looks a lot different from what I expected.”

His favorite thing, though, was a screen displaying a lava flow map from the U.S. Geological Survey of Kilauea volcano’s East Rift Zone, “because it shows all the old flows and the other ones that are happening from Kilauea.”

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