Maunakea Skies Talk: TMT’s Scientific & Engineering Challenges 

October 14, 2016, 9:17 AM HST
* Updated October 14, 9:20 AM
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Illustration credit: NAOJ: National Astronomical Observatory of Japan

Illustration credit: NAOJ: National Astronomical Observatory of Japan

The proposed Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) initially planned by institutions in North America has grown into an ambitious multinational partnership involving institutes from Japan, China, India, in addition to the US and Canada.

The public is invited to learn more about the Japanese perspective on TMT and the progress and challenges of building this next-generation instrument at ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center’s next Maunakea Skies talk on Oct. 21 at 7 p.m., presented by Dr. Masanori Iye, TMT-Japan representative.

Illustration credit: TMT International Observatory

Illustration credit: TMT International Observatory

Japan’s interest in the next-generation telescope dates back to the completion of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan’s Subaru Telescope atop Maunakea in 1999, and Subaru’s subsequent campaign to look deep into the history of the universe using a unique, wide-field camera able to spot galaxies at 13 billion light years away.

The success of this campaign—highlighted by the 2006 discovery of the most distant galaxy, IOK-1, which held the world record for five years—led to the enthusiastic support of Japan’s participation to TMT.

Building on the legacy of Subaru Telescope, Japan has assumed responsibility for designing and building the TMT structure and providing 576 special glass blanks for the 30-meter primary mirror, with much of the work well underway in Japan.

Dr. Masanori Iye, TMT-Japan Representative

Dr. Masanori Iye, TMT-Japan Representative


In his presentation, Dr. Iye will discuss in detail the engineering and innovation involved in the building of the TMT, along with the challenges involved. He will also touch on some discoveries the TMT is projected to identify by the late 2020s.


These future discoveries are expected to include the history of the early universe, when the first stars and galaxies were formed, detailed studies of extrasolar planets and their formation process, and the nature of dark matter and dark energy.

Dr. Iye received his Doctorate of Science in Astronomy at the University of Tokyo. He is now a Professor Emeritus of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan and currently serves as the Japan representative of the TMT project.

Among many awards, he is the winner of the Japan Academy Prize and the Imperial Medal with Purple Ribbon for Contributions to Astronomy. Professor Iye has been very active in supporting and expanding astronomy education in Japan, and was the director of three award-winning science video films.


Hosted by Planetarium Technician Emily Peavy, ‘Imiloa’s monthly Maunakea Skies program includes observational highlights of the current night sky over Hawai‘i. Guests are able to view prominent constellations and stars visible during this time of year.

Maunakea Skies planetarium presentations are held on the third Friday of each month.

General admission tickets are $10, $8 for members (member-level discounts apply).

Pre-purchase tickets at ‘Imiloa’s front desk or by phone at (808) 932-8901.

About ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center
The ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai‘i is a world-class center for informal science education located on the University of Hawai‘i campus. Its centerpiece is a 12,000-square-foot exhibit hall, showcasing astronomy and Hawaiian culture as parallel journeys of human exploration guided by the light of the stars. The visitor experience is amplified with programming using ‘Imiloa’s 3D full dome planetarium and 9 acres of native landscape gardens. The center welcomes approximately 100,000 visitors each year, including 10,000+ schoolchildren on guided field trips and other educational programs. ‘Imiloa is located at 600 ‘Imiloa Place in Hilo, off of Komohana and Nowelo Streets at the UH Hilo Science and Technology Park. For more information, visit or call (808) 932-8901.

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