Category Archives: Kitsap Conference Center

Astronomers to swoop in to Bremerton

The Crab Nebula (NASA)
The Crab Nebula (NASA image)

Q: What happens when you bring 300 of the brightest minds in astronomy to Bremerton? 

A: Dunno. But we’re gonna find out.

For the first time ever, astronomers who are working on a groundbreaking telescope known as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) will swoop into Bremerton for a weeklong workshop at the Kitsap Conference Center in August.

Bob Abel, a physics professor at Olympic College, was instrumental in bringing the astronomers here. They’d been holding their annual workshops in Arizona. When talk came to bringing them closer to the University of Washington — where some of the astronomers work — Abel saw his chance. Its team, made up of scientists across the country, agreed to come here.

And what about this enigmatic telescope they’re meeting to talk about?

For a decade starting in 2020, the LSST, perched in the Andes Mountains of Chile, will rapidly scan the sky with a 3,200 megapixel camera. Over the telescope’s lifespan, it will collect untold numbers of stories in the night sky: supernovae, asteroids, and billions of galaxies as they evolve.

“It will obtain more data than all of the telescopes in history combined in its first month,” Abel said.

And all that data will be open to anyone to review, Abel said.

The astronomers will be busy during the day, but Abel hopes to introduce them to the community in the evenings. The conference has reserved a theater at SEEFilm downtown and will also use the Pacific Planetarium on Pacific Avenue for TED-style talks each night.

As this is a global affair, Abel has also managed to get the soccer field at Kiwanis Park reserved for the scientists to play on. (Kind of fun imagining these incredible minds from all over the world kicking a soccer ball around, don’t you think?)


The conference will be held Aug. 16-22. We’ll have more coverage as we get closer to the main event. Abel is excited about the chance to show the astronomers Bremerton; he hopes Bremerton we’ll be excited for the chance to meet them too.

“For one week in the middle of August, we’ll be hosting 300 of the best astronomers in the world,” he told the City Council Wednesday.

How’s that Kitsap Conference Center expansion coming?



August 9, 2014 will be the biggest day ever for the Kitsap Conference Center. The Kitsap Wine Festival, which drew 900 people to the Harborside Fountain Park, will be in full swing that day, as will a wedding with a guest list of 125 and a fundraiser with 400.

But let’s rewind a bit. Last year, the Bremerton City Council approved, by a close vote, a 7,000 square foot expansion of the conference center into its neighboring building (one Kitsap Transit owns). Paid for with $400,000 from the Kitsap Public Facilities District, a $500,000 loan from the city of Bremerton and $200,000 from Kitsap Transit (earmarked to replace the elevators).

The expansion’s construction, on the top floor of the Bremerton Harborside building, began in late November last year. On Thursday, Conference Center General Manager Arne Bakker took me on a tour.

Crews from Jones & Roberts of Olympia have put in new walls, plumbing, lots of electrical equipment and an HVAC system (in fact, if you’re downtown Saturday, watch for the crane installing the central HVAC equipment).

“Basically, it was a shell with a hallway,” Bakker said of the space prior to the work.

Left to do is flooring, window covering, the ceiling tiles and other electrical work. Crews began renovating the elevators Monday, Bakker said.

Regardless of what they put in, the views up there are pretty stunning (pictured).

They’ve even named the new “breakout” rooms. “Glacier Cove” with space for 100, overlooks the Olympic Mountains and the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, while “Marina Vista,” with capacity for 250, overlooks, well … you know.

Bakker is confident 2014 will be a “year of building” and believes reservations will pick up incrementally. “There’s been a lot of interest but people want to see a finished product,” he said.

Bakker, an employee of Columbia Hospitality — which runs the center on behalf of the city —  believes construction will wrap up in mid-March. It has to, because the first event there, a wedding, is slated for March 22.