Thousands gather at Hawaii Convention Center for ‘Super Bowl’ of astronomy

Astronomy technicians describe complicated process to get access to Mauna Kea's summit.
Astronomy technicians describe complicated process to get access to Mauna Kea's summit.(Hawaii News Now)
Published: Jan. 6, 2020 at 8:57 AM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Some 3,000 astronomers are attending a five-day conference at the Hawaii Convention Center that’s known as the “Super Bowl” for astronomy.

The event is aimed at presenting the latest research and scientific discoveries of the universe.

“There are about 5,000 astronomers in the U.S. and two-thirds of them are going to be here,” said Roy Gal, associate professor at Institute for Astronomy at UH Manoa.

The American Astronomical Society website says protests may occur.

In 2015, anti-TMT activists held a peaceful rally outside the International Astronomical Union General Assembly at the convention center.

In a visitors guide, AAS advised attendees to "be respectful and avoid engaging with large groups, particularly during pre-planned demonstrations that may be captured on video."

Organizers say AAS isn’t shying away from the controversy and there will be daily Mauna Kea discussions.

“I think we are mostly concerned that we get good information provided to all the attendees. That they are well-informed about the issues in Hawaii and see the broader context of how TMT fits into Hawaii astronomy,” said Doug Simons, executive director of Canada-France-Telescope.

Simons is presenting with Larry Kimura of UH Hilo’s College of Hawaiian Language & Hawaiian Studies Monday about astronomy and culture in the Hawaiian creation chant.

Hawaiian activists said demonstrations could happen, but given the temporary truce at Mauna Kea they’re hoping for dialogue.

Laulani Teale, coordinator for Hoopae Peace Project, said her group asked to speak at the convention but did so at the last minute so she understand that they haven’t heard back.

"We are making a diplomatic effort to reach out and to speak to the astronomers in the astronomy community," she said.

Longtime TMT opponent Kealoha Pisciotta, president of Mauna Kea Anaina Hou, has a unique perspective. She previously worked for years as a telescope technician, but is dedicated to opposing the telescope project.

“Astronomy is a noble endeavor but it loses its nobility when it loses it’s humanity,” she said.

Copyright 2020 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.