Keiki holding colorful clay balls

Scientists and educators from across the islands made an in-person return to the popular AstroDay event held at Prince Kūhiō Plaza in Hilo on May 14, a first in more than 2 years.

The annual event sponsored by the Maunakea Observatories and coordinated by the University of Hawaiʻi Institute for Astronomy (IfA) brought together more than 70 volunteers representing 20 organizations on Hawaiʻi Island, Maui and Oʻahu to present science and technology activities and demonstrations to hundreds of keiki and adults.

Keiki doing a marble activity

“The volunteers and the public alike were talking about how great it was to be back,” said Carolyn Kaichi, IfA outreach and education specialist and coordinator of AstroDay. “In 2020, AstroDay activities were entirely virtual on YouTube, and in 2021, we had a hybrid version where we prepared kits of information and had the mall merchants giving them away. Being back in person to interact on location is so much more rewarding and fun!”

Event highlights included make-and-take planets, black hole demos, ultraviolet camera fun, solar viewing and many more astronomy related activities. Participants engaged in games and giveaways put on by the UH Hilo ʻImiloa Astronomy Center, observatories from Maunakea and Haleakalā, Hawaiʻi Space Flight Laboratory, National Weather Service, Hawaiian Electric and the Pacific Tsunami Center.

Robots from the Hilo High Viking Robotics team and the Hawaii Science and Technology Museum were among some of the most popular attractions.

AstroDay also celebrates the Maunakea Coin Contest, a design competition open to all Hawaiʻi Island students grades K–12. The purpose of the contest is to give students a chance to artistically portray astronomy in Hawaiʻi. Winners from an array of categories are recognized in a ceremony, and the grand prize winner’s design is printed on a commemorative coin which is handed out at the event.

AstroDay is celebrated in the spring in Hilo around International Astronomy Day, a world-wide event that honors all facets of astronomy. In the fall, AstroDay is also celebrated in Kona.

Keiki posing with a storm trooper