The ʻImiloa Astronomy Center will reopen to the general public starting Saturday, July 24, after closing its doors more than a year ago due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are so thrilled to welcome back our members and visitors,” said ʻImiloa Executive Director, Kaʻiu Kimura. “Since our temporary closure last March, we pivoted to online activities, offered innovative and enrichment Hālau Lamakū programs on site for keiki and most recently, our special summer camps—all geared to help support local families, providing educational and social opportunities in these COVID-19 challenged times.”
On July 17–18, the astronomy and culture education center at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo initially welcomed its members back. Eager keiki and their ʻohana explored the planetarium, exhibits and enhanced displays, such as a hands-on building activity E Kūkulu Kākou and Reflecting on Maunakea, an interactive exhibit wall where patrons can leave notes about relationships and experiences with the mauna.
Near the center’s Hawaiian navigation section, guests can view a tribute display honoring Chad Kālepa Baybayan, who was involved with ʻImiloa since its inception before serving as the center’s navigator-in-residence in 2010. The highly respected, deep-sea voyaging canoe Hōkūleʻa captain died in April.
COVID-19 restrictions allow ʻImiloa to open on the weekends, for now. Guests will have 2-hour time blocks to visit the site. A total of three separate blocks will be available each day with no more than 40 people inside at a time. Everyone is required to wear masks indoors at all times. Tickets must be reserved in advance online.
“We are all in the monitoring, learning and adapting phase as we do our best to meet the needs of everyone while we navigate this unprecedented journey,” Kimura added.
Keiki visiting ʻImiloa will also be able to take home educational crafts put together by the center’s enrichment program, Hālau Lamakū. The program, grounded in Hawaiian culture, science, math and art, has assembled home lessons for kids ranging from outer space to place-based areas and species on Hawaiʻi Island.