Kamaaina Observatory Experience opens Mauna Kea observatories to the public

Kamaaina Observatory Experience opens Mauna Kea observatories to the public

MAUNA KEA, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - For the first time ever, the Mauna Kea Observatories and the Imiloa Astronomy Center will hold the first Kamaaina Observatory Experience on Saturday, January 16.

The Kamaaina Observatory Experience is a free monthly event that will let Hawaii residents tour all the world-class telescopes atop Mauna Kea and learn about the cultural and environmental importance of the mountain.

"This is the first time that our local community will have an opportunity like this to experience what this special place has to offer - culturally, environmentally and scientifically," said Kaiu Kimura, executive director of Imiloa Astronomy Center. "We at Imiloa see this Kamaaina Observatory Experience as an extension of our work to increase awareness, outreach, and access to the wealth of knowledge that Mauna Kea embodies."

Hawaii residents who sign up for the Kamaaina Observatory Experience will have the opportunity to tour two of the 13 Mauna Kea Observatories - the most scientifically productive collection of telescopes on earth. The two observatories selected will rotate on a monthly basis.

Through this partnership, participants will also learn about the extensive stewardship and protection efforts for Mauna Kea's natural resources, and the cultural significance of the mountain.

"While astronomy has a 50-year history on Mauna Kea, this program marks the first time the observatories have collectively opened their doors to the public," said Mary Beth Laychak, outreach program manager at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope. "We hope to honor the scientific heritage of Hawaii and Mauna Kea by inviting our local community to see the work we are doing in these telescopes firsthand."

The Kamaaina Observatory Experience includes transportation to and from the summit and lunch at Halepohaku, the midpoint facility for those who work on the mountain.

Participants must be 16-years-old or older and possess a valid Hawaii ID.

Participating observatories include the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, Gemini Observatory, the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (EAO), NASA Infrared Telescope, Subaru Telescope, Submillimeter Array, and the W.M. Keck Observatory.

For more information about the Kamaaina Observatory Experience or to reserve a spot for an upcoming tour, visit www.kamaainaobservatoryexperience.org or call Imiloa Astronomy Center at (808) 969-9703.

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