Institute for Astronomy Open House to be held on April 18

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Karen Rehbock, (808) 956-6829
Asst to the IFA Dir, Institute for Astronomy
Dr. Gareth Wynn-Williams, (808) 956-8807
Astronomer, Institute for Astronomy
Posted: Apr 9, 2010

Children package eggs for the Mars Drop activity at the 2009 Open House. Photo by Nancy Lyttle
Children package eggs for the Mars Drop activity at the 2009 Open House. Photo by Nancy Lyttle

Ever see the sun melt a penny? You may have the opportunity if you attend UH Mānoa's Institute for Astronomy’s annual Open House on Sunday, April 18 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at its headquarters at 2680 Woodlawn Drive in Mānoa.

UH Mānoa graduate student Kirsten Larson explained the origin of the penny melting activity.  Larson and fellow student Andrew Mann scavenged a fresnel lens out of an old projection television and built a frame for it. “We can concentrate over a square yard of sunlight into a point. It gets very hot,” she said. “We might even try to fry an egg.”

As in past years, there will be activities for both children and adults. Participants will be able to “Ask an Astronomer,” learn about astronomy software that works on your home computer, and if the weather and the sun cooperate, observe sunspots and the moon through a telescope. Activities especially for children will include sundial making, comet making, shows in the StarLab planetarium, and bottle-rocket launching.

Last year, the Lego activities were a big hit and will be back this year. There will be a totally new moon base with mountains and trains, and some additional stand-alone space-themed creations.

There will be short talks on a variety of topics. For example, UH Mānoa biologist Steve Freeland will speak on “Is Life on Earth a Cosmic Accident?” Astronomer Robert Jedicke, who began his career as a particle physicist, will give a talk entitled “The Big Bang and Back Again: The Origin of the Universe and the Large Hadron Collider.”

Kahuku-based Ironwood Observatory will again bring the Astro-Jeopardy game. The Hawaiian Astronomical Society and the Bishop Museum will also be there.

Free admission and parking.  Lunch will be available for purchase. For up-to-date information, visit



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