It was fun. It is always fun!
It is AstroDay, a chance for all of the observatories to do a little community outreach.
Prince Kuhio Plaza is the largest mall on the island. Perhaps small by large city standards it is still the focal point of shopping in Hilo. The observatories and a few other organizations use tables all through the branches of the mall. In the center of it all is a stage with live music, giveaways and other activities for the crowd. The whole thing is a great family day and a great outreach opportunity.
Last time around the activity at the Keck table was astro-Haiku. Not to malign poetry, some folks did write pretty good haiku. We need something more engaging… Poetry just does not grab the kid’s attention. This time around I planned to have lasers!
So it was an early start to make the hop across the island, arrival at 9am to setup the exhibits. Alan and David joined me to work the display for the first couple hours. It was busy right from the start, lots of families stopping by, attracted by the laser dancing on the ceiling.
The laser spirograph and laser ray trace tables were setup and ready for the kids. The exhibits were dreamed up after last year’s AstroDay, this year they exist. Nothing like a little laser light to get things going. To this we added an exhibit Shui came up with for Keck open house, a camera and computer that manipulated the image using a green screen effect, making it appear our guests were floating in space. From everything I saw the new exhibits were a big improvement to our display.
After spending my shift on the booth I turned things over to our relief crew and headed out to see the rest of AstroDay. I stopped by and chatted with so many of the folks I know, catching up on news and checking out their exhibits.
There were Taiko drummers! Did I mention I love Taiko drumming. We were treated to a performance by Puna Taiko. I sat on the ground just outside the performance area, a few feet from the drums and felt the beat go right through me. Taiko is fun to photograph, slow the shutter down a bit and have fun with the action.
I spent more than a few minutes checking out Gary Fujihara’s meteorite display. Gary is the prime mover behind AstroDay, the guy who arranges this event to make the rest of us look good. His table is usually a great stop, with a real reason to stop by this year. He had Chelyabinsk fragments in the display! A chance to see bits of the meteor that caused the blast seen around the world.
My thanks to David, Alan, Al, Ean, Steve, Luca and Gavin for helping out with the Keck booth. With some great help we made it come together this year. Looking forward to next year’s AstroDay!