ʻImiloa executive director Kaʻiu Kimura keynotes national astronomy conference, speaks about UH Hilo ʻolelo Hawaiʻi program to name celestial bodies

Kaʻiu Kimura, executive director of UH Hilo ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center, gave the keynote address at the opening event to an audience of more than 2,000 attendees.

Kaʻiu Kimura
Kaʻiu Kimura

The program out of ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaiʻi at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo that provides Hawaiian names to astronomical discoveries was the focus of the opening session of the 223rd meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) in Seattle, Washington, on Jan. 7. AAS is the major organization of professional astronomers in North America with a stated mission to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the universe.

‘Imiloa Executive Director Ka‘iu Kimura gave the keynote address at the opening event to an audience of more than 2,000 attendees. She spoke about ‘Imiloa and it’s mission, ‘Imiloa’s A Hua He Inoa program where Hawaiian speaking students work with Hawaiian educators and Hawai‘i-based astronomers on naming astronomical discoveries, and the story behind the naming of ‘Oumuamua, the first interstellar object to be tracked through our solar system.

“I think I got the audience thinking differently about culture and science partnerships,” Kimura says. “It was such an honor to share the new initiatives forming back in Hawai‘i that have had—and have yet to have—tremendous impact for our communities.”

‘Oumuamua gained massive media attention and propelled the use of ‘olelo Hawai‘i as part of the coverage. Larry Kimura of the UH Hilo Ka Haka ‘Ula o Ke‘elikolani College of Hawaiian Language named the interstellar object. The A Hua He Inoa program is the first of its kind in the world that weaves traditional indigenous practices into the process of officially naming astronomical discoveries. The Hawaiian speaking students in the program have named two asteroids in the solar system, Kamoʻoalewa and Kaʻepaokaʻawela.

 

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