Mauna Kea activists plan rally to counter international astronomy conference

A group of Mauna Kea activists protesting the building of the Thirty Meter Telescope gathered in front of the Hawaii Convention Center Tuesday to voice their plans after being denied a panel session at the International Astronomy Group General Assembly.

Mauna a Wakea spokesmen Jon Osorio and Lanakila Manguil are extending an invitation to the visiting astronomers to attend a rally Sunday at Kapiolani Park after a unity march through Waikiki.

Osorio said that they presented the proposal of presenting a panel to express their beliefs and concerns “more than a week ago” to conference officials, but were turned down.

“We want to convey our views directly, without being filtered or interpreted by others who may not understand us,” said Manguil in an earlier prepared statement. “Our people have always been astute scientists; we are for science. Our people have always been evolving; we are for innovation. Our people have always been keen observers of the stars; we are for astronomy. But when these collide with our deepest beliefs, we need to take a stand. We stand for our Mauna. We hope to explain to the astronomers such beliefs and the environmental reasons we are protecting our Mauna.”

More than 2,500 astronomers from 75 countries are attending The International Astronomy Group General Assembly at the convention center, which started Monday and continues through August 14.

This is the first time the General Assembly is being held in the U.S. since 1988. The 11-day event is also expected to be one of the largest professional astronomy conferences in the IAU’s history.

General Assembly participants will address key topics in contemporary astronomy and assess recent scientific progress in a number of specialized areas.

The conference is expected to generate more than $20 million in tax revenue for Hawaii.

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