ʻImiloa Astronomy Center reopens after pandemic shutdown

COVID-19 restrictions allow ʻImiloa to open on the weekends, for now. Guests will have 2-hour time blocks to visit the site where eager keiki and their ʻohana can explore the planetarium, exhibits, and enhanced displays.

Children enjoying interactive workshop.
ʻOhana explore ʻImiloa’s interactive displays on Hawaiian culture, history, and astronomy. Photo: ʻImiloa.

Kaiu Kimura
Ka‘iu Kimura

ʻImiloa Astronomy Center will reopen to the general public starting Saturday, July 24, after closing its doors more than a year ago due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are so thrilled to welcome back our members and visitors,” says Kaʻiu Kimura, executive director at ʻImiloa. “Since our temporary closure last March, we pivoted to online activities, offered innovative and enrichment Hālau Lamakū programs on site for keiki and most recently, our special summer camps—all geared to help support local families, providing educational and social opportunities in these COVID-19 challenged times.”

Keiki and adult working in large interactive exhibit of large gears.
Keiki engage in an interactive exhibit that inspires youngsters to build, create, and innovate. Click photos to enlarge.

On July 17–18, the astronomy and culture education center at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo initially welcomed its members back. Eager keiki and their ʻohana explored the planetarium, exhibits and enhanced displays, such as a hands-on building activity E Kūkulu Kākou and Reflecting on Maunakea, an interactive exhibit wall where patrons can leave notes about relationships and experiences with the mauna.

Chad Kālepa Baybayan on voyaging canoe.
Chad Kālepa Baybayan

Near the center’s Hawaiian navigation section, guests can view a tribute display honoring Chad Kālepa Baybayan, who was involved with ʻImiloa since its inception before serving as the center’s navigator-in-residence in 2010. The highly respected, deep-sea voyaging canoe Hōkūleʻa captain died in April.

COVID-19 restrictions allow ʻImiloa to open on the weekends, for now. Guests will have 2-hour time blocks to visit the site. A total of three separate blocks will be available each day with no more than 40 people inside at a time. Everyone is required to wear masks indoors at all times. Tickets must be reserved in advance online.

“We are all in the monitoring, learning and adapting phase as we do our best to meet the needs of everyone while we navigate this unprecedented journey,” Kimura adds.

Keiki visiting ʻImiloa will also be able to take home educational crafts put together by the center’s enrichment program, Hālau Lamakū. The program, grounded in Hawaiian culture, science, math and art, has assembled home lessons for kids ranging from outer space to place-based areas and species on Hawaiʻi Island.

Woman and child, both wearing masks, working with display item.
COVID-19 safety protocols require face masks indoors. Photo: ʻImiloa

For more information on ticket admission, visit the ʻImiloa website.

 

UH System News.