In Hawai’i we sometimes take our night sky for granted and forget that we have some of the darkest and clearest night skies for viewing our celestial sphere. The documentary The City Dark helps us to remember why we are lucky to live in Hawai‘i.
On Thursday evening, August 16th, ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai‘i hosted a screening of The City Dark for its members in the planetarium. The City Dark provided a fascinating introduction to the science of the dark and an exploration of our relationship to the stars.
We had over 100 member reservations for the one-time screening. Members learned more about the impacts on wildlife and on health but already had some knowledge of light pollution and urban planning simply as a result of where we live. Hilo is located on the slopes of Maunakea, which is one of the best places in the world to work on astronomy because it is above 40% of the earth’s atmosphere, averages 300 clear nights a year and offers very little atmospheric interference. We drive under the dim glow of the low-pressure sodium lamps which are used to lessen the impact of atmospheric interference for the observatories on Maunakea. Even though we already have some awareness of light pollution the inevitable question asked is, “What more could be done?”
After the screening, three local experts were available to answer questions. Dr. Klaus Hodapp, Associate Director, Institute for Astronomy, UH Hilo; Ronald Laub, Light Pollution Control Specialist, Institute for Astronomy; and Ron Thiel, Traffic Division Chief, Public Works, Hawaii County. This provided an opportunity for the County to discuss the new light-emitting diode (LED) lamps they will be installing to save energy while limiting the impact of atmospheric interference.
(For more information, visit hawaiitribune-herald.com.)
‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai‘i is a world-class informal science education center located on the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo campus. ‘Imiloa is a place of life-long learning where the power of Hawai?i’s cultural traditions, its legacy of exploration and the wonders of astronomy come together to provide inspiration and hope for generations. The Center’s interactive exhibits, 3D full dome planetarium, native landscape, and programs and events engage children, families, visitors and the local community in the wonders of science and technology found in Hawai‘i. It is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday (closed Mondays). For more information, visit the website at imiloahawaii.org.
Vinnie Recinto (‘Imiloa Marketing Coordinator) is part of the Marketing efforts for ‘Imiloa, and keeps the web presence going. “I love promoting the ‘Imiloa mission to ‘celebrate Hawaiian culture and Maunakea astronomy’ inspiring understanding and opportunity.” Reach him at email@example.com.