World-class observatories and natural wonders in Maui on the Big Island, January 27 – February 4, 2013

Tell someone you're going to Hawaii and they will excitedly talk about the beaches, the volcanoes, the waterfalls, and profusions of flowers. But just as powerful are the islands' remarkable astronomical observatories. Given the area’s dark skies, clear air, generally perfect weather and equatorial location, Hawaii is an important spot for celestial exploration.

Join your fellow Princetonians and Professor Jeremy Kasdin, lead investigator of Princeton's Terrestrial Planet Finder group, to enjoy special access to a variety of Hawaii's observatories and research facilities, including the Mauna Kea Observatory Complex on the Big Island and Project Pan-STARRS at the summit of Haleakala on Maui, where an array of astronomical cameras, telescopes, and computing facilities searches the sky for new asteroids, comets, variable stars, and other celestial objects. Also visit the Imiloa Museum’s fascinating exhibitions relating to the history of astronomy in Hawaii.

This program also provides plenty of time to explore the many natural wonders of Hawaii. Learn about the islands' teeming tropical marine life on a whale-watching cruise during the humpback whale migration and a tour of the Maui Ocean Center. Observe the ongoing forces that continue to shape the islands during a volcanologist- led excursion to Kilauea volcano. Enjoy easy walks to view thundering waterfalls and unspoiled panoramas as you search for forest birds and endemic plants with local naturalists.

Please note: One full day on tour will be spent at the summit of Mauna Kea, elevation 13,796 feet. Overnight accommodations will be at sea level.

About the Study Leader

Jeremy Kasdin '85, Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering will serve as Study Leader for this Journey.

Professor Kasdin performs research in the areas of spacecraft design and control, orbital mechanics, and advanced optics. His current interest is in designing telescope instrumentation to image Earthlike planets around other stars. He has been working with NASA since 2002 on technology for a space planet finding telescope, including co-leading a design study in 2009 for a possible 4-meter space telescope as a successor to Hubble. His group, along with faculty, staff and students in the Astrophysics department, also collaborates with the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan's Subaru telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, on their exoplanet imager. He is leading the design and manufacture of a new instrument for Subaru to characterize planets which will be delivered to Hawaii in 2014. Professor Kasdin has traveled to Hawaii for many years and looks forward to sharing his love of the Islands and his passion for exoplanet science and technology. Professor Kasdin and his wife Kef are both members of Princeton's Class of 1985 and are proud that their twin daughters are both members of the Class of 2014. When not working, he spends his time cycling, hiking and rock climbing. For the past several years he has participated in Outdoor Actions freshman trips by helping lead a day of rock climbing with incoming students.


Trip Details

  • Dates: January 27 – February 4, 2013
  • Cost: $6,850 per person, double occupancy
  • Deposit: $1,000 per person
  • Activity Level: Active - Environment
  • Operator: Criterion Travel

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