This week I am in Hilo, Hawaii working as an Astronomer with the Institute For Astronomy at the University of Hawaii. Whenever I think of Hawaii, I tend to daydream with thoughts of white sand beaches, beautiful sunsets, and warm weather usually flooding my mind. Well, it was far from that when we arrived last night as we were welcomed by a thunderous tropical storm.
Apparently it has been raining here for a whole month. I grew up in Vancouver, Canada so I always thought that I had seen my fair share of rainstorms - I was humbled last night. Luckily, we were also welcomed by Tammy and her son Judah, who greeted us with big hugs, smiles and flower leis. Tammy heard about One Week Job a couple of months ago and has been awesome to organize our entire stay here. I will be working closely this week with Gary Fujihara who heads the Science Education & Public Outreach programs at the Institute. I will be accompanying him into various classrooms around the island educating students about the stars, planets and galaxies that make up our Universe and introduce them to a profession they may not have ever considered otherwise.
Also this week, depending if the weather co-operates, I will be visiting Mauna Kea Observatory. Mauna Kea is both a sacred and historical site in the Hawaiian culture and one of the most important land-based astronomy sites in the world with a summit located almost 14, 000 feet above sea level. The location is ideal because of its dark skies, good astronomical seeing, low humidity, clean air, good weather and almost equatorial location.
The accommodation for research astronomers is located below the summit at 9300 feet (2835 meters) above sea level, and a visitor information station is located at 9200 feet (2775 meters). The summit of Mauna Kea is so high that scientists and other visitors are advised to stay at the lower level for 30 minutes to acclimate to atmospheric conditions before reaching the summit.
I will also be speaking at several high schools around the island this week, sharing my experiences with One Week Job and all that I have learned over the last year.
Should be an awesome week!