Maunakea Lecture Series Celebrates the International Year of Astronomy 2009

Hawai‘i Island, HI –  The public is invited to attend The Maunakea 2009 Lecture Series, free monthly lectures throughout 2009 hosted by ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center and W. M. Keck Observatory to introduce Hawai’i astronomy and the latest research being done by the thirteen observatories located on the summit of Maunakea.  The Maunakea 2009 Lecture Series is the first of many activities planned locally to commemorate the International Year of Astronomy (IYA 2009), a global celebration of astronomy and its contributions to society and culture, with events happening worldwide in 135 countries.

The opening speaker in the 2009 Series is Chad Kalepa Baybayan, ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center’s Navigator-in-Residence, whose presentation will be Thursday, January 15 at the W. M. Keck Observatory’s Hualalai Learning Theater in Waimea and Saturday, January 17 at ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center’s planetarium in Hilo.  Both programs begin at 7 pm and space is limited to first-come, first served. 

Baybayan’s talk titled, “Traditional Hawaiian Navigation and Sky Lore,” will discuss how the earliest astronomers, the Hawaiians, used their powers of observation and knowing the movement of stars, as well as understanding of ocean and environmental conditions, for navigation and wayfinding.

Baybayan holds a masters degree in Education, is a fluent speaker of the Hawaiian language, and has served as captain and navigator aboard the Hawaiian deep-sea voyaging canoes Hōkūle‘a, Hawai’iloa, and Hōkūalaka’i. He has been an active participant in the Polynesian voyaging movement since 1975 and has sailed on all major voyages of the Hōkūle’a throughout Polynesia, Micronesia, the west coast of North America, and Japan. Currently he serves as the Navigator-in-Residence at the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai’i. He also serves as the resident captain and navigator aboard Hōkūalaka’i, the newest of a fleet of voyaging canoes that are symbolic of the growing interest among local Hawaiian communities in the voyaging arts. He is currently working to establish Hōkūalaka’i as a cornerstone voyaging program located in Keaukaha, a Hawaiian homestead community, on the island of Hawai‘i.

Following Baybayan’s talk, there will be presentations over the next eleven months by the directors of the Maunakea observatories who will share the latest scientific discoveries and technologies from their research facilities.  Over the last 400 years, telescopes and techniques have evolved to include instruments that “see” the heavens in many ways.  The telescopes on Maunakea each have unique capabilities, and many are world leaders in this legacy of exploration.

The programs in Hilo will take place in ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center’s 120-seat planetarium on the third Saturday of each month during 2009.  This special year-long program replaces the Center’s monthly “Maunakea Skies” planetarium talks, which will resume in 2010.  In addition to hearing the lecture, guests may also choose to dine before hand at ‘Imiloa’s Sky Garden Restaurant which will be open for dinner service from 5 pm to 8 pm.  For dinner reservations, call the restaurant directly at (808) 935-8888.

Opened in 2006, ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center celebrates both Hawaiian culture and Maunakea astronomy.  Through its exhibits and program, ‘Imiloa strives to share inspiring examples of science and culture together advancing knowledge, understanding and opportunity.  The Center 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) 969-9700 for recorded information, or (808) 969-9703.

The programs in Waimea take place at the W. M. Keck Observatory headquarters in the Hualalai Learning Theater at 65-1120 Mamalahoa Highway.  Keck Observatory operates twin 10-meter optical/infrared telescopes made possible by grants totaling more than $138 million from the W. M. Keck Foundation.  Keck I telescope began science observations in 1993, Keck II began in 1996.  The vision of the Keck Observatory is a world in which all humankind is inspired and united by the pursuit of knowledge of the infinite variety and richness of the Universe.  The W.M. Keck Observatory headquarters operates a small visitor/information center open to the public from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.  For more information, visit or call (808) 885-7887.