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'Imiloa Astronomy Center, on the Big Island in Hilo, Hawaii, offers a fascinating bridge between science and culture. The connection is through the stars and the mountain of Maunakea, where the world's greatest collection of astronomical observatories are housed.
Centuries ago, the Polynesian voyagers used sophisticated star charts to navigate to Hawaii. By tying together the two stories of origins and explorations, `Imiloa Astronomy Center bridges the often-large gaps between science and native culture. Major exhibits include the Kumulipo, the Hawaiian origins chant; and "4D2U," a small 3D theature that offers a fly-through of the universe and its birth.
Funded by major grants from NASA and many of the major observatories -- Subaru, Gemini, CFHT, Smithsonian, Caltech, Keck and others -- `Imiloa provides fascinating educational and cultural programs for visitors, students, and local residents. They partner with the Merrie Monarch Festival to offer cultural workshops. The landscape garden is the largest in the world featuring plants native to Hawaii.
The real showpiece is the 120-seat full-dome planetarium, the first (and only!) planetarium that can do shows in 3D. Don't miss the signature show, "Maunakea: Between Earth and Sky." Be sure to allow 3-4 hours to see everything, including the on-site museum store and a very good restaurant, the Sky Garden Cafe. Open Tuesday through Sunday, 9:00 - 4:00 with evening events. For more information, see www.imiloahawaii.org.