Above: SMA telescope operator and outreach enthusiast Mimi Fuchs entertained droves of young visitors with astronomy-themed coloring activities during AstroDay in Hilo on May 5, 2018. 

Volcanic eruptions and earthquakes were no deterrent for Hilo’s annual AstroDay event on May 5, which drew hundreds of visitors for science and educational fun at Prince Kuhio Plaza in Hilo. More than 30 science, technology and engineering organizations supported the event to talk-story, show demonstrations and give away swag to kids and their families.

PISCES' Public Information Officer Chris Yoakum plays space trivia with a young visitor.
PISCES’ Public Information Officer Chris Yoakum plays space trivia with a young visitor.

PISCES brought its new UAV octocopter for show and tell and played space trivia with visitors questing to earn the new Maunakea coin by visiting every booth. Several lucky kids won grab bags and shiny prizes including amateur telescopes.

The winner of the Maunakea Coin Contest, 4th-grader Bailey Mattos of E.B. de Silva School, was recognized with a prize at the event’s center stage. Students in all grades are invited each year to create a design for the coin themed around astronomy and Hawaiian culture.

The Maunakea Observatories all attended AstroDay and brought popular activities like the Gemini StarLab planetarium, IR camera demonstrations and poster prints of the cosmos captured at the summit.

“It was a crazy week and I wasnʻt certain what to expect–but it appeared the crowds were enthusiastic and appreciative,” wrote Carolyn Kaichi, education/outreach specialist at UH Institute for Astronomy and a key organizer at the event. “…For the most part I think everyone had fun and it was an impressive turnout. This couldnʻt have happened without the partnerships we all have, and support from the Maunakea Astronomy Outreach Committee, Maunakea Support Services, and the Office of Maunakea Management.”