The Hilo Astronomy Club has been chosen by the Astronomical League as the top winner for this year’s Sky & Telescope Astronomy Day Award. The prize consists of a commemorative plaque and a $250 gift certificate from Sky Publishing. Club members created a daylong "AstroDay 2K2" program at the Prince Kuhio Plaza shopping mall on Hawaii’s Big Island last April 20th. More than 12,000 people were on hand for guest speakers, native Hawaiian presentations, Starlab planetarium shows, and exhibits and demonstrations from the staff of professional observatories atop Mauna Kea. "There were so many people at some of these exhibits that it was truly standing room only," notes organizer Gary Fujihara.
Despite its impressive showing, the Hilo club had only three months to pull everything together. However, because he is a telescope operator for the Subaru telescope, Fujihara was able to coax help from many of his professional colleagues. He was also keenly aware that some Hawaiians are not happy with the growing number of telescopes atop Mauna Kea, so he invited native groups to make Astronomy Day presentations as well.
Other Astronomy Day Award winners include the Back Bay Amateur Astronomers and the Buhl Planetarium & Observatory (for the best new idea), the Sangamon Astronomical Society and the Statesboro Astronomy Club (for the most activity for its size), and the Sacramento Valley Astronomical Society and the Oglethorpe Astronomical Association (for holding quality events year after year). Honorable mentions went to Sudekum Planetarium, the Ottawa Valley Astronomy & Observers Group, and the Museum Astronomical Resource Society.