Explore Hawaii Island: Imiloa Astronomy Center

Explore Hawaii Island

This week, we’re celebrating Hawaii Island, the biggest of the island chain. Today, we’re in Hilo at a place that mixes Hawaiian culture and science.

“The Imiloa Astronomy Center has been located here in Hilo for 13 years and there’s nothing like it in the world. Joining me now to talk more about that is Kaiu Kimura with the astronomy center. Thanks for being with us. So what makes Imiloa so unique?” Kristine Uyeno asked.

“Well Imiloa is so unique. We are a science center that opened 13 years ago to highlight, celebrate and bring forth the tremendous wisdom from our Hawaiian ancestors and our Hawaiian culture and bring together in new ways under astronomy and the research being done on Mauna Kea, so we are about showcasing the culture and the science of Mauna Kea in an effort to provide educational opportunities to our community, both local and global,” Kimura said.

“And you don’t do it just inside this facility, but you educate people outside on your property as well,” Uyeno said.

“Correct, so we have a fabulous facility and grounds as well. We have five acres of native plants that we intentionally placed within our five acres really to highlight and celebrate our history and the importance of our native plants to our culture and people and our facility is 42,000 square feet and within our facility we have over 12,000 square feet of exhibition space which is what you see behind us here, interactive exhibits, over 120 of them, plus a few interactive theater installations as well. We also have a 120-seat planetarium that was the first and only, at one point, planetarium that’s 3-D, so we’re very fortunate to have these as platforms for our educational programs,” Kimura said.

“And it’s not just the daily activities that are important, but you have camps, you have family nights and you have much more,” Uyeno said.

“We’ve got field trips, we’ve got camps, we’ve got family events, we like to do events for the community because that’s what draws people to come and visit us on an ongoing basis,” Kimura said.

“And for the tens of thousands of visitors that you have here every year, what do you want them to walk away knowing?” Uyeno asked.

“I want them to walk away knowing Hawaii is this incredibly unique and special place that has this deep, old wisdom, passed down through generations of our Hawaiian ancestors through today, and that body of knowledge is so relevant in how we live our lives today and the power, not only of our old knowledge, but bringing that together with modern astronomical science and other sciences as well. The power of bringing those two together so that’s a very robust and holistic way of looking at the world and the universe that’s around us,” Kimura said.

“And it’s bilingual,” Uyeno said.

“We’re bilingual, so everything is English, and we’re celebrating our language,” Kimura said.

“Thank you Kaiu for joining us. Imiloa, something for everyone,” Uyeno said.

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