Institute for Astronomy Open House on Sunday

This Sunday brings the annual Institute for Astronomy Open House in Manoa. As a science-positive geek dad, it’s one of my favorite family events, and you can browse photos I took last year on Flickr. There are many hands-on activities, from dry ice comet making to sunspot observing, informative displays, and several expert talks.

It’s a great event for kids, with bottle rocket launching, “Mars drop” experiments, sundial making, and face painting. One of the high points each year is an elaborate setup by the LEGO Enthusiasts Association of Hawaii (LEAHI). And you can catch a short show in the StarLab planetarium (though it fills up fast).

Interspersed throughout will be science fair exhibits, and booths featuring partners like the Bishop Museum, the Hawaiian Astronomical Society, the Hokulani Imaginarium from Windward Community College, and the UH Bookstore. And parked out front, the Shogunai Tacos truck.

IfA Solar Viewers | Friends of the IfA on FacebookAnd this year, the Open House will set the stage for the upcoming “Transit of Venus” on June 5. The planet Venus passes directly between the Sun and Earth, an event described as being “among the rarest of predictable astronomical phenomena.” Although there was a transit in 2004, there won’t be another until 2125.

While the IfA has a number of events planned to mark the occasion, you can get an early preview on Sunday. Just by showing up, you can be among the first to get your free “solar viewer” (the IfA had over 25,000 of them made). And at 1 p.m., leading astronomer Gareth Wynn-Williams will give a talk on “The June 5th Transit of Venus.”

The Open House runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Institute for Astronomy at 2680 Woodlawn Drive (across from Noelani Elementary School near Manoa Marketplace). Admission and parking is free. For more information, visit the IfA website or the Friends of the Institute for Astronomy Facebook page.

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