Exploring sea and space

  • Students in Honokaa High School ag class learn where the stars are located from guest speaker Celeste Hao on Tuesday as part of the visiting MANU Imiloa program. (LANDRY FULLER/SPECIAL TO WEST HAWAII TODAY)
    Students in Honokaa High School ag class learn where the stars are located from guest speaker Celeste Hao on Tuesday as part of the visiting MANU Imiloa program. (LANDRY FULLER/SPECIAL TO WEST HAWAII TODAY)

HONOKAA — Seated in a circle on the floor around a large Hawaiian star compass, more than 25 Honokaa High School students listened intently on Tuesday morning as Imiloa Education Specialist Celeste Hao demonstrated how to find the horizon and establish direction using the position of the stars.

“Everything in our universe has a pattern, and every pattern has a purpose,” she told them. “As navigators we must know 120 stars, their colors, star clusters and constellations.”

The group then entered a large portable planetarium to see the stars displayed on an expansive map overhead.

Classes continued throughout the day at HHS as part of MANU (Modern and Ancient Ways of Navigating Our Universe) Imiloa, a program for schools and communities launched by Imiloa Astronomy Center at UH-Hilo in 2015. The culture-based science programming focuses on voyaging across sea and space.

“I learned the Hawaiian words for north, south, east and west, and stars like hokupa’a,” 10th grader Kainehe Maukele said.

HHS’s full-day program was made possible by generous donations from Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope and Subaru Telescope. The initial development and launch of MANU Imiloa was funded by Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation in Palo Alto, CA.

“Our ultimate goal is to help students understand that navigation isn’t just about using canoes. It’s all about skills and patterns you can recognize in your life that help guide you along the way,” Hao said. “We also have the Mauna Kea scholars program which is run through CFHT. HHS is one of the schools. This presentation was a perfect fit — the stars aligned.”

Schools around the island can apply this spring for Kolea, an extended Manu Imiloa program that provides three weeks of curriculum for 7th and 8th graders.

Info: Visit imiloahawaii.org or call 932-8910

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