Imiloa featuring new Mauna Kea program


Visitors to Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii will enjoy a new welcoming experience upon entering its 12,000-square-foot exhibit hall.

Walking into the exhibit hall, visitors are greeted with the mist of Mauna Kea, entering a realm of contemplation, the Pikoi Theater. The gallery is designed to guide visitors’ ascent to Mauna Kea through colorful graphic imagery reflecting Hawaii Island’s natural life forms and ecosystems. They will journey from Hawaii’s deep sea realm, shoreline, forests, upper elevations and the mist to Mauna Kea’s summit.

Walking through mist created by a fog screen, visitors transition into the darkness and calm of the Pikoi Theater.

“Fog screen technology uses ultrasound to create tiny water particles 2 to 3 microns in diameter that envelop visitors in the fine mist of Lilinoe, a Hawaiian deity that resides on Mauna Kea,” said Kalepa Baybayan, associate director. “The microscopic droplets feel dry to the touch, just like air.”

Once inside the theater, visitors watch Mauna Kea’s grandeur unfold as an eight-minute, time-lapse film is projected on a panoramic 20-foot screen. The film was produced by astronomer Jean-Charles Cuillandre with music by Kanoa Withington. Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope Corp. supported the film’s production.

Pikoi refers to our connection to place, where we came from, origins and our environment. For many Hawaiians, Mauna Kea is the piko, point of connection to the universe.

Exiting Imiloa’s new Pikoi Theater begins the journey of discovery of more than 100 exhibits that focus on the science and of culture on Mauna Kea.

The center is located on the University of Hawaii at Hilo campus. It is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. For more information, visit imiloahawaii.org.