New Exhibits Join Favorites at Astronomy Open House
One of my favorite geeky, family-friendly events is coming this weekend: the annual Open House hosted by the UH Institute for Astronomy. Parents, kids, and fans of space and science of any age are invited to visit the institute in Manoa Valley on Sunday, where they will find dozens of exhibits, hands-on activities and special presentations.
This year's Open House will feature several new displays, according to Roy Gal, the institute's outreach coordinator. The Pacific Aviation Museum will be setting up a wind tunnel, and MENSA Hawaii will demonstrate "walking on water" (formulating a non-Newtonian liquid, like this experiment from The Ellen Show). And Sunday's event will also introduce a programming component, with a team live coding an asteroid visualization app for the NASA Space Apps Challenge.
The 2015 Open House will also celebrate the International Year of Light, designated by the United Nations to raise awareness of the importance of light and optical technologies. Light plays a part in several exhibits, from telescopes set up in the courtyard to astrophotography and infrared imaging demonstrations to a "spectroscopy school" that will explain how astronomers use light from distant objects to determine their composition and temperature.
And the Open House always includes presentations by other like-minded groups from across the state, and this year will feature a portable planetarium from the Bishop Museum, physics toys from the Imaginarium at Windward Community College, a wind tunnel from air-powered rockets from UH Manoa's "Super-M" mathematics team, and a star compass from the Polynesian Voyaging Society.
Of course, some of the classic exhibits will be set up, including a glorious LEGO display by the Hawaii Lego Users Group (HiLUG), water bottle rocket launches, an "Ask an Astronomer" corner, and keiki face painting.
For those who prefer to sit and soak in knowledge, there will be talks and video presentations as well. Astronomer Brent Tully will talk about the "Laniakea Supercluster," a vast collection of over 100,000 galaxies with a Hawaiian name that honors Polynesian navigators who used their knowledge of the heavens to cross the Pacific.
The free event runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Institute for Astronomy building at 2680 Woodlawn Drive. Free parking will be available across the street at Noelani Elementary School. For more information, connect with the institute on Facebook or on Twitter, or visit www.ifa.hawaii.edu/open-house.