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Latest Science News

NASA Telescope on Maunakea finds Jupiter’s Great Red Spot Likely a Massive Heat Source

NASA Telescope on Maunakea finds Jupiter’s Great Red Spot Likely a Massive Heat Source

[source] New NASA-funded research suggests that Jupiter’s Great Red Spot may be the mysterious heat source behind Jupiter’s surprisingly high upper atmospheric temperatures. Here on Earth, sunlight heats the atmosphere at altitudes well above the surface—for example, at 250 miles above our planet where the International Space Station orbits. Scientists have been stumped as to why temperatures in Jupiter’s upper atmosphere are comparable to those found at Earth, yet Jupiter is more than five times the distance from the sun. They wanted to know: if the sun isn’t the heat source, then what is? Researchers from Boston University’s Center for Space Physics set out to solve the mystery by mapping temperatures well above Jupiter’s cloud tops using observations from Earth. They analyzed data from the SpeX spectrometer at NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, a 3-meter infrared telescope operated for NASA by the University of Hawaii. By observing non-visible infrared light hundreds of miles above the gas giant, scientists found temperatures to be much higher in certain latitudes and longitudes in Jupiter’s southern hemisphere, where the spot is located. “We could see almost immediately that our maximum temperatures at high altitudes were above the Great Red Spot far below—a weird coincidence or a major clue?” said Boston University’s James O’Donoghue, lead author of the study. The study, in the July 27 issue of the journal Nature, concludes that the storm in the Great Red Spot produces two kinds of turbulent energy waves that collide and heat the upper atmosphere. Gravity waves are much like how a guitar string moves when plucked, while acoustic waves are compressions... read more
Subaru Telescope Maunakea find new, ancient source of gravitational lensing with Student Help

Subaru Telescope Maunakea find new, ancient source of gravitational lensing with Student Help

[source NAOJ] Light from a distant galaxy can be strongly bent by the gravitational influence of a foreground galaxy. That effect is called strong gravitational lensing. Normally a single galaxy is lensed at a time. The same foreground galaxy can – in theory – simultaneously lens multiple background galaxies. Although extremely rare, such a lens system offers a unique opportunity to probe the fundamental physics of galaxies and add to our understanding of cosmology. One such lens system has recently been discovered and the discovery was made not in an astronomer’s office, but in a classroom. It has been dubbed the Eye of Horus (Fig. 1), and this ancient eye in the sky will help us understand the history of the universe.   Figure 1: Eye of Horus in pseudo color. Enlarged image to the right (field of view of 23 arcseconds x 19 arcseconds) show two arcs/rings with different colors. The inner arc has a reddish hue, while the outer arc has a blue tint. These arcs are lensed images of the two background galaxies. There are blobs in and around the arcs/rings, which are also the lensed images of those background galaxies. The yellow-ish object at the center is a massive galaxy at z = 0.79 (distance 7 billion light years), which bends the light from the two background galaxies. The wide field image in the background is here. Enlarged image of the Eye of Horus is here and the image with labels is here. (Credit: NAOJ)   Classroom Research Pays Off Subaru Telescope organizes a school for undergraduate students each year. One such session was held... read more

Local Events

Keahi Warfield’s Testimony in the TMT Contested Case Hearing

Keahi Warfield’s Testimony in the TMT Contested Case Hearing

On February 15th, 2017, Keahi took the stand to explain the story of PUEO, his struggle to educate himself and his mission to help kids find a positive and successful future for themselves.  He also explains how Hawaiians will benefit in the short term and long term by the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea.  His powerful story explaining his reasons for supporting the telescope is a message that everyone should hear before they rush to judge the TMT project. Video is courtesy of Na Leo TV.... read more
“Sea to Sky Event” – Rebuilding Hōkūalaka’i – Sept. 24

“Sea to Sky Event” – Rebuilding Hōkūalaka’i – Sept. 24

A free youth event called “Sea to Sky” will be held this weekend.  This event is designed to bring different aspects of our island together with the common purpose of rebuilding the voyaging canoe, Hōkūalaka’i.  The Hōkūalaka’i will be used for teaching purposes on Hawaiʻi Island and beyond. Hōkūalakaʻi’s home is in the same location (Palekai) that the historic Hōkūleʻa departed from on its world wide voyage. This will be the first of many “Sea to Sky” events at Palekai in Hilo.  It will be an all day event with something for everyone to enjoy.  We have invited many members of the scientific field to have fun educational learning stations available for kids and all participants will be hosted with great food and activities. The focus of the monthly events are structured to: Unite community in helping to restore the voyaging canoe, Hōkūalaka’i. Promote indigenous knowledge in science programs Increase cultural relevance Create opportunities to pursue careers in science and culture education fields The schedule for the September 24th will be: 8:00-8:30am Informal meet, setup and discuss days activities and work planned for the canoe. 8:45-9:30am ‘awa ceremony and welcome 9:30-11:30am Work on Hōkūalakaʻi, Visit Learning Stations, and Site Beautification Project 11:30-12:30pm Lunch 1:00-4:30 Paddling, Sailing, Swimming (Ocean Activities) 4:30-5:00 Closing talk and cleanup We will have “Learning Stations” and a variety of organizations joining us each week. Come down to Palekai and join in the community effort to restore Hōkūalakaʻi and help our youth learn about the science and culture that is happening on the Big Island. If you would like to setup a booth to help educate... read more