On the evening of Feb. 26, 2000, 21 days after leaving Tahiti, a crew of 15 women and men sailing on board Hawai’i’s iconic deep-sea voyaging canoe Hokuleʻa, arrived off Hawai’i island. As the island loomed large in the foreground, a colleague and I were in deep conversation. On the horizon the slopes of Maunakea rose out of the sea, its summit silhouetted by the fabric of stars that circled overhead.
The conversation quieted as we stared toward that immense sight. As we looked west from the port hull, the wind gently pulling us along, I stared at the majesty unfolding before me, the star field circling overhead and arcing toward Maunakea, welcoming the night sky. In that moment I realized that Maunakea and the universe were one and that Maunakea was truly a portal to the universe.
Since that moment I have been an advocate for astronomy in Hawai’i.