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Maunakea Observatories
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President Barack Obama at the White House Astronomy Night in Washington, D.C. on October 19, 2015.

The Maunakea Observatories and ʻImiloa Astronomy Center will offer the Kamaʻāina Observatory Experience, a monthly community event that welcomes Hawaiʻi residents to the science reserve atop Maunakea to see world-class telescopes and learn about the cultural and environmental importance of the mountain.

The Kamaʻāina Observatory Experience was introduced on October 19 in a speech by President Barack Obama at the White House Astronomy Night in Washington, D.C. The event, held on the South Lawn of the White House, brought together scientists, engineers and visionaries from astronomy and the space industry, including guests from Hawaiʻi’s ʻImiloa Astronomy Center, Gemini Observatory and the Polynesian Voyaging Society, who shared an evening of stargazing and learning with students and teachers.

2 people in front of White House
Kaiu Kimura, ʻImiloa Astronomy Center, left, and Alexis-Ann Acohido, Gemini International Observatory.

“We were honored to represent Hawaiʻi’s tremendous contributions to the world of astronomy, education and culture on the White House lawn tonight,” said Kaʻiu Kimura, executive director of ʻImiloa Astronomy Center. “As part of ʻImiloa’s partnership with the Maunakea Observatories, we look forward to sharing these contributions with even more of our friends and ʻohana at home in Hawaiʻi through the Kamaʻāina Observatory Experience.”

The new program will occur once a month and will include transportation to and from the summit and the Visitor Information Station, a cultural briefing, a one-hour safety and environmental briefing at Hale Pōhaku, and a one-and-a-half hour visit to two of the Maunakea Observatories—the most scientifically productive collection of telescopes on Earth. Participation will be free of charge and open to all Hawaiʻi residents.

Maunakea observatories

“The Kamaʻāina Observatory Experience will be the first program of its kind in the 50-year history of astronomy on Maunakea,” said Doug Simons, executive director of the Canada-France-Hawaiʻi Telescope. “The Maunakea Observatories make Hawaiʻi one of the most respected sites on earth for astronomical discovery. It is our sincere hope that this program will inspire a passion among kamaʻāina for astronomy and an appreciation for the cultural and environmental future of Maunakea.”

The Kamaʻāina Observatory Experience will launch in early 2016 and will be open once a month to individuals 16 and older with a valid Hawaiʻi ID. Registration is required and will be available online on a first come, first served basis.

For more information and to reserve a spot for an upcoming tour, visit the Kamaʻāina Observatory Experience website.

Watch President Obama’s announcement

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