students looking at infared camera
Keiki interact with an infrared camera.

MKO@Home, a distance learning initiative created by the Maunakea Astronomy Outreach Committee (MKAOC), will transport the annual AstroDay celebration (traditionally a hands-on event) into the virtual world. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the educational science event set to be held at Prince Kūhiō Plaza in Hilo is on hold. Observatories and space science organizations will begin posting presentations and demonstrations online on April 27 through May 15.

“We will be bringing the same kinds of engaging activities that you would normally see at our East and West Hawaiʻi AstroDays to a virtual space,” said Carolyn Kaichi, AstroDay organizer and outreach and education specialist at the University of Hawaiʻi Institute for Astronomy. “AstroDay is one of our most beloved events of the year, and we didn’t want to disappoint our community who has attended AstroDay Hilo for the past 18 years.”

Winners from the AstroDay Coin Contest, a student design competition launched earlier in the year, will also be announced on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The grand prize design will be minted on a commemorative coin and distributed at future outreach events.

“We hope MKO@Home will keep everyone excited about AstroDay until we have a chance to get out again,” Kaichi said.

In response to the interruption of science education and outreach during the COVID-19 crisis, the Maunakea Observatories (MKO) and Maunakea Astronomy Outreach Committee have combined resources to assist the community by offering MKO@Home online. The observatories and outreach committee sponsor educational outreach activities throughout the state including Journey Through the Universe and Maunakea Scholars. Many programs have been postponed during the pandemic, but the outreach group is set on resuming activities after regulations are lifted.