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Celebrating 12 Years of Journey Through the Universe (and Counting!)

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NASA SSERVI director Yvonne Pendleton used coin faces to help students visualize how the moon rotates as it orbits the Earth, keeping the same side facing the "Earth".


Hilo High students observed various light sources through filters that separate the light into a rainbow of colors.


Gemini Safety Manager John Vierra brought safety equipment that observatory technicians wear to be safe when they are working on the telescope. 


Gemini Science Fellow Jenny Shih helped students at Waiākea Intermediate School classify galaxies.  


Gemini Software Engineer Angelic Ebbers challenged groups of students at Waiākea Elementary to put their engineering skills to the test in an exercise called "The Zip Line Ping Pong Ball Challenge." 


Hawai‘i Governor David Ige proclaimed March 4-11, 2016 as Journey Through the Universe Week.


Hawai‘i Island Mayor Billy Kenoi proclaimed March 7-11, 2016 as Journey Through the Universe Week.  

During the week of March 7-11, 83 observatory professionals consisting of astronomers, engineers, astronomy educators, and other observatory staff brought their passion for science into hundreds of local Hawai'i Island classrooms as a part of Gemini Observatoryʻs flagship annual outreach program, Journey Through the Universe (aka Journey). Thanks to combined efforts, we were able to reach about 7980 students in both the Hilo-Waiākea district (7250 students) and Honoka‘a Schools (730 students with coordination by the Canada-France-Hawai‘i Telescope), and several hundred more in various community events, for a total reach of over 8550 students, families, and community members.

"STEM initiatives like the Journey program are crucial to developing studentsʻ knowledge and interest about the universe," said Brad Bennett, the Hawai‘i Department of Education (DOE) Hilo-Waiākea complex area superintendent. "We are proud of the partnership that has been established with our scientific community and look forward to working together in the future to see how we can leverage the current program into one that engages our students throughout the school year."

Now in its 12th year in local schools, Journey Through the Universe week is a robust collaboration with the Department of Education Hilo-Waiākea Complex, Hawai‘i Island business community, Maunakea Observatories and NASA. 

A new addition to this yearʻs program was a "stellar tour" of Gemini Observatoryʻs StarLab portable planetarium to all area K-1 classrooms. In the planetarium, students explore the Solar System, constellations, and Hawaiian navigational star lines and legends. 1450 students visited the starlab from 49 classrooms.

To prepare the observatory staff for classroom visits, a Science Communications workshop was planned at the ‘Imiloa stronomy Center, led by world-renowned science educator Dr. Dennis Schatz. The workshop focused on how to most effectively share science with students.

Other Journey events during the week included:

  • An opening ("Thank You") ceremony at the Hilo Yacht Club organized by the Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce and the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry;
  • Public talk and observations of the partial solar eclipse visible at sunset in Hawai‘i on March 8;
  • A talk from NASAʻs Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Instituteʻs (SSERVI) Brian Day;
  • A Career Panel of observatory professionals was held for three sessions at Waiākea High School;
  • Building Galileoscopes with the National Optical Astronomy Observatoryʻs (NOAO) Robert Sparks and Peter Michaud of Gemini Observatory.

"My vision for this program is to inspire local students to aim for the stars," said Janice Harvey from Geminiʻs Public Information and Outreach (PIO) department, who is also Journeyʻs programʻs coordinator. "This is a grassroots program that Iʻm very passionate about, because it gives Hawai‘i students the chance to explore STEM careers as a viable choice for their future." 

For more information about Journey Through the Universe, please visit the program webpage.

Journey Through the Universe was also featured on the 365 Days of Astronomy as one of the siteʻs daily podcasts on Saturday, March 12th.

Finally, for many more images and an overview of the weekʻs events, visit the post on the Gemini public blog

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A podcast about Gemini Observatory and its role in the Era of Multi-Messenger Astronomy. Featuring news related to multi-messenger astronomy (MMA), time-domain astronomy (TDA), our visiting instrument program, and more through interviews with astronomers, engineers, and staff both here at Gemini (North and South) and abroad.

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