Japanese Museum and `Imiloa Astronomy Center Collaborate to Create a Special Astronomical Event

December 22, 2009

Many astronomical events are held around the world to celebrate the International Year of Astronomy 2009. In one such event, `Imiloa Astronomy Center, located in the immediate neighborhood of the Subaru Telescope's base facility, collaborated with Katsushika City Museum in Tokyo, Japan ( to jointly develop a special planetarium show suitable for viewing in English at `Imiloa planetarium.

Planetarium during Dr. Fuse's Discussion

The original Japanese planetarium show, called "Hawai`i, the Stars and the Oceans", was created by Tatsunori Arai, who is in charge of Katsushika City Museum's planetarium. Shawn Laatsch, the planetarium manager at `Imiloa, worked with Arai to adapt the material into a format appropriate for `Imiloa"s planetarium. The shows presented on September 4th (one in English) and 5th (two shows in succession, first in Japanese, then in English) were the culmination of almost three years of preparation and collaboration. The presentation at `Imiloa served as a demonstration and trial run of Arai's and Laatsch's innovative form of presentation. Rather than having a soundtrack included with the visual package, Arai and Laatsch preferred to narrate the images as part of a live presentation to the audience.

The shows at `Imiloa integrated a variety of media to enhance the experience of the event. The program debuts with images of the cosmos from Subaru Telescope as well as Hawaiian star lines. Master Navigator Kalepa Baybayan narrated the presentation of Hawaiian star lines. Dr. Tetsuharu Fuse, an astronomer and longtime PIO staff member at Subaru Telescope, discussed "The Universe Revealed by Subaru Telescope" as pictures of Subaru's discoveries were projected on the planetarium wall. Yumi Ishikawa, a noted slack key musician and composer from Japan, and Pono Lani offered Ishikawa's interpretation of Hawaiian music and slack-key performance as a tribute to the Japanese love of Hawaiian culture. The audience could simultaneously enjoy beautiful music and images.

The flexible format of the events at `Imiloa showed how planetaria can present the visual projection materials according to their own needs and context. Dr. Fuse summed up the delight of the audiences by saying, "Hopefully, we will hold a similar event at `Imiloa in the future." Such a wonderful experience is a catalyst for even more innovative presentations.

(from right to left) Tatsunori Arai, Tetsuharu Fuse, Pono Lani, (skip), Yumi Ishikawa, Shawn Laatsch.

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