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Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii


Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii, Hilo, Hawaii

Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii, Hilo, Hawaii

Photo Courtesy of Phil Rosenberg/`Imiloa Astronomy Center, copyright all rights reserved

Since its opening in 2006, ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii, on the University of Hawaii at Hilo Science and Technology Park campus in Hilo on Hawaii Island (the Big Island) has become one of the island's major destinations for visitors. Derived from the Hawaiian world `imiloa which means to explore or to seek knowledge or profound truth, visitors can explore exhibits and programs that examine the connections between the early Polynesian star navigators, our earliest astronomers and observers of the skies, and today's astronomers, who look at stars for answers to questions about how life began.

The center's mission is to celebrate Hawaiian culture and Maunakea astronomy to share an inspiring example of how science and culture can be united to advance knowledge, understanding and opportunity.

Facility Facts:

‘Imiloa Astronomy Center
600 ‘Imiloa Place
Hilo, Hawaii 96720

Local: 1-808-969-9700
Museum Store: 1-808-969-9764 or 1-808-969-9765
Sky Garden Restaurant: 1-808-969-9753 or 1-808-935-8888
Email: info@imiloahawaii.org

Web Site:

Owner and Manager:
Operated under the auspices of the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo

Opening Date:
February 23, 2006

Mel Choy, Media5 Architecture (formerly Durrant-Media Five) - Media5 Architecture

Location and Architecture:

‘Imiloa Astronomy Center is located on Hawaii Island (the Big Island), 1.5 miles west of downtown Hilo on the campus of the University of Hawaii at Hilo Science and Technology Park, five minutes from downtown Hilo and Hilo Airport and just 25 miles north of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. (directions)

‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii is the first titanium-clad building in the Islands. It also is a green building and has been awarded a coveted Leadership in Energy Efficient Design (LEED) certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Architect Melvyn Choy said the design is an abstraction of the Big Island's volcanic landforms. The elegant simplicity of the volcanic cones of Hualalai, Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea provides the formal genesis of the design and are used to house the Center's planetarium, lobby and restaurant. Choy chose to clad the conical building forms in the reflective element titanium to emphasize the connection between the Earth and the sky. Titanium has a nonshiny, non-sleek luster that reflects the changing coloration of the Hawaiian sky. The building is composed of 75 percent recycled material and houses systems to control power and light consumption and provide overall environmental efficiency.


The award-winning landscaping for the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii offers visitors a unique experience to the islands: an opportunity to see and appreciate the native and canoe plants of Hawaii. These were the plants brought by the early Polynesian navigators to the islands.

Designed by Honolulu landscape architect Randall Monaghan, the plantings on the Center's 9.1 acres mimic the changes in vegetation at different elevations on the ascent up Mauna Kea volcano. The ‘Imiloa gardens represent one of the largest and most diverse collections of native Hawaiian and canoe plants found in Hawaii.

Hours of Operation:

Tuesday through Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Closed Mondays
Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years' Days


Members - Free
Adult - $17.50
Children 5–12 - $9.50
Children Under 5 - Free
Kama‘aina (Hawaii resident) Adult - $12.00
Kama‘aina (Hawaii resident) Children 5–12 - $7.00
Extra Planetarium Show - $5 adults, $3 Children
Senior and Military Discount - $2 off admission


‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii features more than 100 exhibits, many interactive, all of which were custom-designed for the Center where you will learn about Hawaiian beliefs and scientific beliefs, theories and practices related to Mauna Kea, the stars, and the world around us. ‘Imiloa's exhibits are divided into two major areas: Origins and Explorations.

Major exhibits include:

  • Piko: Hawaii's Connections to Maunakea and Stars
  • Kumulipo Theater: Hawaiian Origins Chant
  • Origins of the Universe: Our solar system as it relates to the Milky Way galaxy and Universe
  • Voyages: Hawaiian voyaging
  • 4D2U Theater: Voyage Through Space
  • Cosmic Questions: Theater show and interactive astronomy tools-based exhibits

In addition the Center offers:

  • Science On A Sphere (SOS)®, created and provided to the Center by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is a room-sized, global display system that uses computers and video projectors to display planetary data onto a six-foot diameter sphere, analogous to a giant animated globe.
  • Viewspace offers constantly changing, updated astronomy and space-based earth science news and information in a presentation from the NASA Space Telescope Science Institute.


‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii in Hilo has the most advanced and sophisticated planetarium systems available. It is the first in the world to have 3-D stereoscopic capabilities, and is currently the only planetarium in the United States with the capability. Viewers use 3-D specturally-notched glasses to view images projected using Sky-Skan definiti 3-D theater technology.

The planetarium has a 52-foot full horizontal dome with 120 reclining seats. Each seat in the theater has an unobstructed view of the show. The sound system in the theater includes a six-channel, 5.1 surround sound to create a completely immersive experience.

The Planetarium's signature show Maunakea: Between Earth and Sky is shown daily along with rotating quarterly and monthly featured shows. Maunakea: Between Earth and Sky is a 22-minute full-dome show that was created exclusively for ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center. It focuses on Hawaii's sacred mountain, Maunakea, a place that connects both Earth and sky through Hawaiian culture and mankind's ongoing search into the night sky for the origins of the Universe.

Museum Store and Dining:

The Bank of Hawaii ‘Imiloa Museum Store features a wide collection of books related to astronomy and Hawaiian culture, art by local artists, as well as other educational and gift ideas for all ages.

The Sky Garden Restaurant at ‘Imiloa has dramatic views of Hilo Bay and the gardens and features a delicious menu of locally grown items. Catering services are available for special events and meetings at the Center. The restaurant is open for visitors and the general public. There is no admission required to dine in the restaurant. The restaurant is available for special events rental during other hours, evenings and mornings. The restaurant is open for breakfast & lunch: Tuesdays – Sundays from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and dinner Thursdays – Sundays from 5:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

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