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Astronomy & Space

Small asteroid or comet ‘visits’ from beyond the solar system

Diagram of our solar system shows the dramatic path of A/2017 U1

A small, recently discovered asteroid—or perhaps a comet—appears to have originated from outside the solar system, coming from somewhere else in our galaxy. If so, it would be the first “interstellar object” to be observed and confirmed by astronomers. This unusual object—for now designated A/2017 U1—is less than a quarter-mile (400 meters) in diameter and is moving remarkably fast. Astronomers …

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Documenting the last permafrost in Hawaiʻi

Mauna Kea

In the coldest climate, on the tallest summits of Hawaiʻi, temperatures fall below freezing during winter nights. In 1969 Alfred Woodcock discovered areas inside cinder cones on Maunakea that are permanently frozen. At one place the ice was about 32 feet thick and 27 yard long, buried beneath about one foot of boulders, the only permanent ice known in all of …

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UH part of astronomical discovery that changes understanding of universe

A binary neutron star merger and resulting kilonova explosion.

University of Hawaiʻi researchers played a major role in one of the most significant astronomical discoveries in decades—the first observations of a binary neutron star merger and resulting kilonova explosion. The discovery fundamentally affects our understanding of the origin of many of the elements common on Earth and in our bodies. UH astronomers, together with their international collaborators, announced the discovery in articles …

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More high school students get astronomical viewing time through Maunakea Scholars partnership

Students and mentors working at computers

The Maunakea Scholars program, designed to bring Hawaiʻi’s high school students into one of the world’s most advanced observatory communities, has dramatically expanded for the 2017–2018 school year to serve more local kids. The program announced its tremendous growth recently at the Future Focus Technology and Research Conference. “Maunakea Scholars is an unprecedented program,” said Kaʻiu Kimura, executive director of the ʻImiloaAstronomy Center. “It is a …

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Fifth UH simulated Mars mission is in the books

HI-SEAS Mission V crew

On September 17, after eight months of isolation in a geodesic dome on the slopes of Mauna Loa, six HawaiʻiSpace Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) crew members exited their habitat. They felt the sun and wind on their faces and ate fresh tropical papaya, pineapple and bananas with friends and family. It’s been a memorable experience for the Mission Vcrew for a variety …

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Mars simulation crew readying to exit Mauna Loa habitat

The eight-month mission to “Mars” for the fifth University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Hawaiʻi Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) crew is almost over. Anticipation is building, as the crewmembers get ready to exit their habitat on Mauna Loa on Sunday, September 17, 2017. The NASA-funded HI-SEAS project aims to help determine the individual and team requirements for long-duration space exploration missions, including travel to Mars. “Long term …

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Local students get an Akamai experience at telescopes on Hawaiʻi Island and Maui

Akamai interns around podium

Students from the University of Hawaiʻi System were among the 29 participants in the 2017 Akamai Internship Program that gives college students from Hawaiʻi an opportunity to gain a summer work experience at an observatory, company or scientific/technical facility in Hawaiʻi. The students spent the eight-week program working on research projects with mentors at a variety of STEM facilities on HawaiʻiIsland and Maui including the telescopes on Maunakea and Haleakalā. …

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Hawaiʻi students expand research and astronomy skills

Students and staff of the 2017 HI STAR program

Twenty middle and high school students from Oʻahu, Maui, Molokaʻi and Hawaiʻi Island learned core astronomy and research skills at this year’s HI STAR program. HI STAR, the Hawaiʻi  Student Teacher Astronomical Research program, is a week-long summer astronomy program held at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa for students entering grades 8–11. This was the 11th year of the program. Students gain an in-depth understanding of astronomy throughout the week of intense HI …

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Astronomers discover variability in the Seven Sisters of the Pleiades Cluster

The brightest members of the Pleiades cluster form a spectacular group of naked-eye stars that have played a central role in cultures around the world for millennia. Native Hawaiians used the Makaliʻi to mark the beginning of the new year and the beginning of “tax collecting season,” while the “Seven Sisters” feature prominently in ancient Greek mythology. But not everything is known …

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Total solar eclipse illuminated by UH astronomers

During 2017’s total solar eclipse, the first to cross North America since 1918, Hawaiʻi will be well represented by Institute for Astronomy astronomer Shadia Rifai Habbal and other University of Hawaiʻiscientists. When the moon completely blocks the sun, Habbal’s team of international scientists will collect data as they have done during 14 eclipses since 1995. “Witnessing the event—which happens over an hour, when you are going from …

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