The Universe Tonight

On the first Saturday of each month, the Visitor Information Station (VIS) hosts The Universe Tonight, a special presentation on the current research and discoveries occurring on Maunakea. The presentation begins at 6:00 PM and is followed by the regular evening stargazing program at the VIS.

The Universe Tonight typically features an astronomer from one of the observatories on Maunakea giving a presentation on recent observations and discoveries from their telescope. Observatories are on a rotating schedule.


Upcoming Presentations


February 3, 2018 @ the VIS Presentation Room, 6:00 p.m. 

Presenter: Kālepa Baybayan


Born and raised in Lahaina, Maui, Kālepa Baybayan has been an active participant in the
Polynesian voyaging renaissance since 1975. Kālepa has served as captain and navigator
onboard the iconic Hawaiian double-hulled voyaging canoe Hōkūleʻa as well as the
canoes Hawai‘iloa and Hōkūalaka‘i. In 2007 he was one of five Hawaiian men initiated
into the order of Pwo, a two thousand year old society of deep-sea navigators, by their
teacher, Master Navigator Mau Piailug on the island of Satawal.

A 1997 graduate of the University of Hawaiʻi Hilo with a bachelors of arts degree in
Hawaiian Studies, Kalepa has served as Imiloa Astronomy Center’s first Navigator-in-Residence since his appointment in 2009. Kālepa most recently participated in the 3-
year Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage, which traveled 42,000 nautical miles, visited
150 ports in over 20 countries, while training a new generation of navigators, educators,
scientists, and community stewards.



March 3, 2018 @ the VIS Presentation Room, 6:00 p.m.   

Presenter:  Steve Mairs

Where do baby stars come from?  A Glimpse Into some of the Nearest Stellar Nurseries Using the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope

Steve Mairs is a support astronomer at the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (East Asian Observatory) in Hilo, Hawaii. He received his PhD in Physics/Astronomy at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada. For the past 6 years, his focus has been on researching the connection between the largest and the smallest scales in our Milky Way Galaxy, specifically in the context of our own Solar System’s origin. 


Deep within the cold dust and gas which resides in our Milky Way Galaxy, a dramatic story is unfolding: the birth of stars. Understanding the formation and evolution of stars is not only quintessential to describing the visible universe but it is also important for recognising and appreciating our origins. The Sun and planets did not always exist and it is through comparing careful observations of our solar neighbourhood to cutting-edge theoretical simulations that we are able to investigate our cosmic history and perceive our solar system in the broader context of the Galaxy and, indeed, the universe. 


So, where do baby stars come from? In this talk, Dr. Mairs will give an overview of the current theory of star formation before highlighting the research I am performing using the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT). The JCMT is not tuned to observe visible light, like the kind we see with our eyes. Instead, it captures submillimetre light which allows us to probe cold dust in the process of forming stars. Situated atop Maunakea, it is the largest single dish telescope of its kind. 


Since 2015, Dr. Mairs has been using the JCMT as part of a large collaboration of astronomers from around the world conducting an observational program know as the JCMT Transient Survey. By the end of 2018, we endeavour to obtain the deepest ever maps of eight nearby stellar nurseries. Our primary goal is to detect brightness variations around forming stars in order to investigate how these brand new suns are currently gaining their mass. 


Dr. Mairs will share images of star forming regions in the directions of famous constellations like Orion, Perseus, Ophiuchus, and Serpens while comparing them to advanced computer simulations at the forefront of the field. In addition,  he will show how researchers are measuring stellar growth spurts in real time and I will highlight our observations of a "twinkling" young star, EC53, which confirm the existence of a newly discovered planet. 











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