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January 2002

Release date: January 15, 2002

'Explorers of Mauna Kea' Featured at ASU Planetarium

The impact on astronomy of the extinct volcano which is home to some of the world's largest and best telescopes on the big island of Hawaii will be examined in the new show "Explorers of Mauna Kea," beginning Thursday, Jan. 17, at the Angelo State University Planetarium.

This unique planetarium program explains what makes Mauna Kea such an important observatory site for the astronomers exploring our universe. The program will be shown Thursdays at 8 p.m. and Saturdays at 2 p.m. Jan. 17 through March 9 at the ASU Planetarium in the Vincent Nursing-Physical Science Building at 2333 Vanderventer Ave.

"Explorers of Mauna Kea" takes the audience to the island of Hawaii and up the highest point in the Pacific Basin to an extinct volcano 14,000 feet above sea level. There at the volcano's crest, astronomers use the world's biggest telescopes to study the universe.

The audience will learn about two important Hawaiian mountains, Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, and find out about the island legends that explain geological facts, including the movement of the mid-Pacific plate toward northern Asia. The legends of Pele, the goddess of fire and volcanoes at Mauna Loa, and Poliahu, the goddess of snow at white-capped Mauna Kea, will be presented.

The audience will see the telescopes on Mauna Kea and discover the weather inversions that keep clouds and dust below Mauna Kea's summit and the skies clear on the mountain for so many nights. The results of studies using Mauna Kea's Keck telescope into the deaths of giant stars in spectacular supernova explosions will be presented during the program.

NASA and the Bishop Museum Educational Partnership provided funding for the "Explorers of Mauna Kea."

Admission price is $3 for adults and $1.50 for children, students and senior citizens. There is no charge for ASU students, faculty, and staff. For more information, please call Dr. Mark S. Sonntag, planetarium director, at 942-2136.