Prominent dignitaries to attend MKAEC blessing/dedication

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Date: Wednesday, June 23, 2004
Contact: Dr. Marlene Hapai, (808) 933-3917

For Immediate Release

A delegation of high ranking University, County, State and Federal officials will participate in the blessing and dedication of the Mauna Kea Astronomy Education Center (MKAEC) construction site on Wednesday, June 30 at the University of Hawaii at Hilo University Park of Science and Technology. The event is free and open to the public.

Chancellor Rose Tseng will be joined by a number of dignitaries during the ceremony, scheduled for 3:30 p.m. in front of the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory (CSO) facility at the corner of A`ohoku Place and Nowelo Street. Participants will include U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye, Dr. Adena Williams Loston, associate administrator of education, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Acting University of Hawai`i President David McClain, and Mayor Harry Kim.

“MKAEC is the product of several different parties who shared a vision of what the Center could do to showcase exciting scientific discoveries and promote an interest in astronomy to the youth of our community,” Tseng said. “This event marks another important step toward the fulfillment of that vision.”

The blessing and dedication will cap off an afternoon of activities at the Park centered around astronomy. Festivities begin at noon with an Open House sponsored by observatory base facilities located in the Park.

The Open House will feature a wide range of astronomical exhibits and various activities, including solar viewing at the University of Hawai`i Institute for Astronomy (IfA), a scale model of the solar system distributed throughout the Park and visitor tours of the IfA and the Subaru Telescope gallery.

Other hands-on activity stations include: Discovering the Earth’s Layers; Comet Making; Art & the Solar System; Discovering Moons, Stars and Energy; Colorful Kites; and Docking the International Space Station.

Guest parking will be provided on the UH Hilo campus. Visitors may park at the Campus Center and meet under the covered walkway, or at Hale `Ikena and take the shuttle, which will depart every 15-20 minutes.

“Parking is the last thing that anyone should have to worry about on such a festive occasion,” said Dr. Marlene Hapai, director of MKAEC. “The campus provides a close, secure facility where everybody can park their vehicles and leave the driving to us.”

In addition to promoting astronomy, the Center will seek to bridge the gap between culture and science by framing its facilities and programs in Hawai`i’s rich Polynesian tradition of exploration. Hawaiian cultural activities will include hands-on and interactive exhibits on Hawaiian constellations, language and the voyaging canoe Kea`eloa, which will be set up in the Park.

MKAEC will occupy a nine-acre site in the Park, which houses the base facilities and scientific/technical staff for the world’s most important collection of telescopes. The 40,000-square-foot Center will become the premier interpretative facility for sharing discoveries when it opens in late 2005. Major components will include a 12,000-square-foot exhibit hall, multi-purpose planetarium, classrooms for Center programs, a scenic view restaurant and gift shop.

For more information, please contact Amy at (808) 933-3916.


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