Two Subaru astronomers will discuss “From Ancient to Modern Astronomy, Islanders’ Perspectives” at ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 18.
Dating back several thousand years, astronomy is the oldest natural science. It has played important roles in many ancient cultures — from religious practices and timekeeping, to determining when to plant and harvest crops. The Polynesian ancestors of the Hawaiians used stars to navigate across thousands of miles of ocean to reach and finally settle in Hawaii.
Astronomers Sherry Yeh and Yuko Kakazu will guide the audience through the cultural and historical aspects of astronomy in their home islands, Okinawa and Taiwan. They will discuss the influence of astronomy on their culture, the ancient astronomical tools in the islands, and the connections with Hawaii.
They will then introduce the audience to some of the current astronomical research at the Subaru Telescope by focusing on their specialty: the formation and evolution of galaxies. Galaxies are the basic building blocks of the Universe. Just like biologists who study cells to understand how our body functions, astronomers study galaxies in order to understand the structure and evolution of the universe.
Yeh and Kakazu will present a stunning image of the Andromeda Galaxy, recently taken by Subaru’s new gigantic digital camera, Hyper Suprime-Cam (HSC). The HSC will soon start taking a cosmic census for billions of galaxies across a wide area of sky, giving us insight into the evolutionary history and fate of the expanding universe.
Yeh recently joined the Subaru Telescope as a Subaru-NAOJ Research Fellow. Originally from Taiwan, she received her Ph.D. at the University of Toronto in Canada in 2013. Using near- and mid-infrared instruments on telescopes around the world, her research focuses on the interplay between massive star clusters and their interstellar medium in nearby starburst galaxies. Dr. Yuko Kakazu recently joined the Subaru Telescope as an outreach specialist. A native Okinawan, she began her journey into astronomy when she attended the NASA U.S Space Camp program at age 13.
Kakazu graduated from Tohoku University in Japan and then obtained her Ph.D. at the Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii at Manoa. Since then, she has worked as a postdoctoral researcher in Paris, France (Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris), California (California Institute of Technology), and Chicago (University of Chicago). Her research focuses on metal poor galaxies and distant galaxies in order to understand galaxy formation and chemical enrichment history. Maunakea Skies program host will be Christopher Phillips, ‘Imiloa.
He will provide observational highlights of the current night sky over Hawaii, pointing out prominent constellations and stars one can see during this time of year. The monthly planetarium presentations are held on the third Friday of each month. Cost is $10.