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Rolf-Peter Kudritzki

Institute for Astronomy

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From the Director

Dear Friends of Hawaii Astronomy,

We are living in difficult times after an attack against the modern world. In such a situation, it is essential to think about the most important values of our human society, the values we want to defend by any means. One of the greatest achievements of our modern world, which I never want to miss, is the freedom to think and to investigate my roots as a human unrestricted by any kind of ideology or religion. For me, this achievement is closely connected to astronomy.

Since early human history, when people were first able to stand on two feet and look up at the sky, they could see the shining stars and they were fascinated. They wanted to know what they saw there. They wanted to know what the stars were and what was behind them. They simply wanted to understand the world they were living in. In this way, astronomy has become the mother of all sciences, the oldest science in the history of humanity. Wherever there has been culture on Earth, there has always been astronomy.

Since time immemorial, humans have wanted to know where they came from and where they were going. Astronomy occupies the curiosity of humans because it enables us to go after these questions in a deep and thorough way, like no other science. Astronomy stirs at the roots of knowledge.

Without astronomers, people would still believe that the world is a flat table and that it would be dangerous to reach its edges. But thanks to astronomy, every child in kindergarten now knows that Earth is a sphere.

Astronomy has taught us the important lesson that we-our Sun, Earth, and humans on Earth-are not the center of the Universe. We are an unimportant side issue in an incredibly large and rich expanding cosmos, which started its evolution with the Big Bang fifteen billion years ago.

Astronomers have identified galaxies, stellar systems with billions of stars, as the building blocks of the Universe. Billions of galaxies exist. In them, stars are born and stars die continuously. These stars are usually surrounded by planetary systems similar to the planets orbiting around our Sun. The Universe evolves on all scales.

It is a spectacular Universe of enormous richness, immensity, depth, and beauty that is unfolding in front of our telescopes. What we have detected and explored in the endeavor of modern astronomy has changed our view of the world in fundamental ways, as no other science has. It is important that we share this deep experience and that we do everything to keep our human curiosity alive.


Rolf-Peter Kudritzki


Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program: The IfA expects to offer six research assistant positions for the summer of 2002. These positions are funded through the National Science Foundation (NSF). This program provides under-graduates considering a career in science with the opportunity to engage in research with professional astronomers working on leading-edge problems in astrophysics. REU students will be full-time research assistants to a faculty mentor and will work on specific aspects of an ongoing research program. For more information and an application, see the REU Web page, The application deadline is January 21, 2002.

TOPS Teacher Enhancement Program: The goal of TOPS (Towards Other Planetary Systems), which is sponsored by the NSF, is to initiate systemic reform in science education in Hawaii by enabling science and math teachers to teach astronomy in their classrooms. Teachers will participate in an intensive three-week summer workshop held on O'ahu, and on the Big Island at the Hawaii Preparatory Academy. Teachers learn basic astronomy content, participate in hands-on activities using exemplary materials, begin to integrate state and national science/ astronomy standards into their classrooms, and learn evaluation and assessment techniques. In addition, a privately funded student component of the program is available to local high school students interested in astronomy. The program gives students opportunities to learn astronomy, engage in hands-on activities, and find out what careers in astronomy and related sciences are like. All participants will be exposed to the cutting-edge astronomy that is being conducted in Hawaii.  For more information and an application, see The application deadline is January 15, 2002.



Revealing the Dark Side of the Cosmos
Faulkes Telescope: Bringing the Universe to Class

Upcoming Events

Visitor Information Station

6:00 p.m., Hale Pohaku, Big Island

Saturday, January 5

"The Universe Tonight," hosted by the University of Hawaii 2.2-meter Telescope

University of Hawaii at Hilo

Saturday, January 26

Astronaut Ellison Onizuka Science Day

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