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UH Hilo astronomer publishes general interest book on Mauna Kea

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Date: Thursday, December 1, 2005
Contact: Alyson Kakugawa-Leong, 974-7642

For Immediate Release

A professor of astronomy at the University of Hawaii at Hilorecently had his book on Mauna Kea published by Island Heritage. A Gentle Rain of Starlight: The Story of Astronomy on Mauna Kea is 108 pages of non-technical, jargon-free prose and photographs.

“Author Michael J. West artfully weaves a fascinating tale of scientific discovery through breathtaking photographs and captivating commentary in A Gentle Rain of Starlight. This insightful and uplifting book is the story of astronomy atop Mauna Kea and the engaging exploration of our cosmic home,” noted the publisher.

A Gentle Rain of Starlight is written in a jargon-free narrative and is chock with photographs, most taken by the author, with many others courtesy of the Mauna Kea observatories, Hawai‘i State Archives, NASA and other photographers. While it is primarily about astronomy at the mountain’s summit, the book also touches upon the cultural significance of the mountain to Native Hawaiians and the mountain’s history and the controversy over its future.

“Just as astronomical research continues to expand on Mauna Kea, there is a growing awareness of the need to protect the mountain's fragile ecosystem, and for increased sensitivity to native Hawaiian cultural concerns over the continued development of Mauna Kea's sacred summit,” West said. “Achieving a balance between these sometimes conflicting interests may not be easy, but it is essential to ensure that all feel welcome on Mauna Kea to worship as they wish, to practice their cultural heritage, and to study the stars.

“It is my hope that all who choose to visit Mauna Kea will do so in a way that is respectful of the Hawaiian culture, the natural beauty and the scientific endeavors of this unique place.”

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