This is a photo tour of a morning visit to 'Imiloa Astronomy Center. The 'Imiloa Astronomy center is located above the University of Hawaii Hilo campus. The center has 40,000 square feet of planetarium and exhibition space which was funded primarily by NASA. 'Imiloa means "seek and explore" in Hawaiian and the center seeks to merge Hawaiian and Polynesian culture with astronomy; the 100 or more exhibits and displays are presented in English and Hawaiian.
The entrance fees are very pricey, particularly for a large family. We became members for several years to get unlimited access to the exhibits and 10% off food in the cafe. We enjoyed going on a weekday mornings, eating breakfast, and then wandering around the exhibits and watching the movies at our leisure. The tours usually show up right before lunch, about the time we are ready to leave. The center has numerous "free entrance days" and free events, so watch their calendar to save money.
From Komohana Street, turn at Nowelo street. The picture below is at the top of Nowelo street where you can see Hilo Bay in the distance.
Down Nowelo street a ways, the parking lot is to the left.
The right side of the building is the Sky Garden Restaurant.
You can get to the restaurant through the entrance of 'Imiloa Center or directly through a side door.
The cafe is full of light and has views of Hilo Bay.
For breakfast, in 2009, we could get a cheese omlette ($7.95 - 10% membership reduction), hashbrowns and toast.
The 'Imiloa entrance has a gift store.
The Planetarium is right off entrance area. There is also a room dedicated to a 3D movie of planets that is free. You can go to the gift shop, see the 3D movie and go to the cafe without paying an entrance fee.
Here is a portion of a movie on the 3D globe.
Inside the exhibition center, there is a mockup of the Gemini telescope control center which allows you to simulate tasks with the telescope. Web CAM views show the current conditions at the Mauna Kea site.
A major part of 'Imiloa Center's charter is to provide education to school children and teachers. There are numerous rooms for learning the Hawaiian language and astronomy.
There are interactive displays and exhibits throughout the Center.
The planetarium shows are scheduled daily and there are special evening shows on topics that change month to month and sometimes for pure pleasure combined with music. 'Imiloa has the only 3D planetarium in the world which is quite spectacular. Most of the planetarium shows are not 3D, so make sure you are attending a 3D show if that is your expectation.