geminiann08009 — Announcement
Gemini Kicks off Local Outreach in 2008
5 March 2008
Two of Gemini’s flagship local outreach programs recently engaged thousands of students, teachers, parents and the public in Chile and Hawai‘i. The annual Journey through the Universe program in Hawai‘i and AstroDay Chile continued to grow in 2008 and not only shared Gemini’s work with the public but brought together dozens of other astronomical institutions in both of our host communities to share the excitement of astronomical research.
Now in its second year, AstroDay Chile attracted an estimated 7,000 visitors to the local Mall Plaza La Serena and Gemini was joined by essentially all of the local astronomical institutions in central and northern Chile. Included were ESO, ALMA, University of Concepcion, Universidad de la Frontera from Temuco with his astronomy group C.A.O.S., amateur observatories of Collowara and Cerro Mayu, NOAO/CTIO and CADIAS as well as the OPCC (local entity to protect the Chilean skies from light pollution). With activities ranging from the portable StarLab planetarium to “Ask an Astronomer” the event has become the single unified public event for astronomy in North/Central Chile. “I am glad that we can host this event,” said Mall Manager Felipe Pinochet Brito, “obviously, our region has the most privileged skies for astronomy, so if we need to help people being aware of this, please count on us every year to support this event. Gemini’s Antonieta Garcia coordinated and led this extremely successful event and said, “With all of the people who came from different regions throughout Chile, AstroDay Chile brought Gemini’s name into at least 1700 homes in one day."
Prior to the AstroDay Chile event on February 23rd, about three weeks earlier, the 4th year of the Journey through the Universe program kicked off in East Hawai‘i. Teachers and astronomers gathered for workshops on the weekend of February 2-3 in preparation for the first day of classroom presentations on Monday, February 4th. However, an exceptional amount of rain (even for East Hawai‘i!) cancelled classroom presentations on the first day of planned classes, but the remainder of the week more than compensated for the one lost day. Throughout the week over 40 astronomers from all of the major Mauna Kea observatories shared their work with our community in local classrooms, at the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center and at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. In the end over 340 classrooms were visited and over 8,000 students experienced the excitement of discovery. As in past years, Gemini’s Janice Harvey has continued to lead this widely acclaimed annual program for all of the Mauna Kea observatories and helped it grow to new heights in 2008.