Categorized | Sci-Tech

Galileo birthday celebration at Imiloa Astronomy Center Sunday

Celebrate Galileo’s Birthday Sunday at `Imiloa Free Noon 3D show, special activities, new planetarium show opens

Hilo, Hawai’i – As part of 2009 International Year of Astronomy, ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center plans a full-day of astronomy programming on Sunday, February 15, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Events will include a special 3D planetarium show, unveiling of multi-wave length images of a spiral galaxy, premiere of a new planetarium show produced for IYA2009, and hands-on optics activities for keiki and adults alike.

The February 15 date is also significant as the birth date of Galileo Galile, who is recognized as the first person to make celestial observations using a telescope. Galileo was born on February 15, 1564. Sunday’s program celebrates Galileo’s birthday and 400 years of astronomy.

Events at ‘Imiloa on Sunday will include the following events:

  • 11:45 a.m.- Unveiling of a special IYA Great Observatories display of a spiral galaxy, Messier 101, a new multi-wave length image from NASA. ‘Imiloa is one of 100 US-based science centers, museums, planetariums, natural science centers and other informal education centers nationally selected to display these images taken by Hubble, Spitzer and Chandra satellites to help local communities discover the universe for themselves.
  • Noon – Following the unveiling, there will be a noon-time 3D special planetarium show that will take guests out to the Messier 101 galaxy. This noon show is free to the public and part of the unveiling ceremony. Seating is on a space-available basis.
  • 1 p.m. – ”Imiloa will host the international premiere of Two Small Pieces of Glass: The Amazing Telescope, a new planetarium show. Regular admission will apply except for the free noon-time show. The show will also be shown at 3 p.m. This planetarium show will join ‘Imiloa’s regular line-up of shows for the next six months at the 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. timeslot.

Produced to engage and appeal to audiences of all ages, Two Small Pieces of Glass, traces the history of the telescope from Galileo’s modifications to a child’s spyglass — using two small pieces of glass — to the launch of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the future of astronomy. It explores the wonder and discovery made by astronomers throughout the last 400 years.

Two of the nation’s most advanced planetariums, ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center and the Buhl planetarium at Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, have partnered with Interstellar Studios, with ‘Imiloa as the lead planetarium, to produce Two Small Pieces of Glass: The Amazing Telescope. Thanks to funding from the National Science Foundation, the new planetarium show is part of a large project, “400 Years of the Telescope: A Journey of Science, Technology and Thought,” that also includes a PBS documentary program that will air nationally in April. Two Small Pieces of Glass: The Amazing Telescope will be shown in more 750 planetariums through out the country and internationally as part of the IYA 2009 celebration.

This show follows two teenage students attending a star party and converse with a female astronomer exploring the history of the telescope and the discoveries these wonderful tools have made. The students learn how telescopes work and how these instruments are used today by the largest observatories in the world to explore the mysteries of the universe. They look through telescopes and explore the Galilean Moons, Saturn’s rings, and spiral structure of galaxies – sharing this with the planetarium audiences. Along the way they learn about the discoveries of Galileo, Huygens, Newton, Hubble and many others. The astronomer shares the way telescope development has helped us understand our place in space and how telescopes continue to expand our understanding of the Universe. Two Small Pieces of Glass will be shown daily in the ‘Imiloa planetarium at 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. Tuesdays through Sunday.

The International Year of Astronomy 2009 celebrates the 400th anniversary of Galileo first turning a telescope to the heavens. From Galileo’s first spyglass, telescopes have grown ever larger and ever better, and have moved to mountaintops and to space. NASA’s Great Observatories represent the achievements of astronomy four centuries later and are honoring this legacy with a national image unveiling. ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai’i was selected to present these incredible images to the people of Hawai’i.

One 6-foot-by-3-foot image shows three striking full-color images that showcase the galaxy’s features in the infrared light observed by Spitzer, the visible light observed by Hubble, and the X-ray light observed by Chandra. The images show not only the details of the grand design spiral structure for which the galaxy is famous, but also the underlying giant clouds where stars are born, as well as the hidden locations of black holes and exploded stars. These multi-wavelength views provide both stunning beauty and a wealth of scientific information not even dreamed of by Galileo.

Another 3-foot-by-3-foot image of Messier 101 combines the views from all three telescopes into an amazing composite. It’s like seeing with your eyes, night vision goggles, and X-ray vision all at once!

The new images will be on permanent display after February 15th at the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center.

Additional information about the Hubble Space Telescope is available at Additional information about the Spitzer Space Telescope is available at Additional information about the Chandra X-ray Observatory is available at

‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai’i is located at 600 ‘Imiloa Place in Hilo, off Komohana and Nowelo Streets at the UH-Hilo Science and Technology Park. For more information, go to, or call (808) 969-9703.

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