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Public Comment Open for 2 More Weeks on Proposed Teaching Telescope

October 12, 2020, 9:53 AM HST
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Artistʻs rendering of new telescope on proposed site (does not reflect what project might look like) PC: UH-Hilo

The public has two more weeks to participate in a virtual open house by the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo to learn about the university’s proposed 28-inch educational telescope at Halepōhaku, the mid-level facility on Maunakea.

The educational telescope will be available to UH students, faculty, and the community and will replace UH Hilo’s Hōkū Keʻa telescope on the summit of Maunakea that is currently being decommissioned.

UH-Hilo announced the launch of the month-long virtual open house on Sept. 26. The virtual open house runs through Oct. 26 and provides information on the proposed telescope, the proposed site, and a tentative project timeline. Public review and feedback are strongly encouraged and comments can be submitted to the virtual open house website and will be used to finalize the proposal before the planning and permitting process begins.

“We want this to be as open and transparent as possible and public feedback is key in our stewardship of UH managed lands on Maunakea,” said UH-Hilo Chancellor Bonnie Irwin. “This teaching telescope will be a tremendous educational tool for our students, and the wider community, to engage in hands-on, world-class research.”

UH-Hilo purchased a 28-inch state-of-the-art telescope and remotely-operated dome to replace the non-working one on the summit. UH-Hilo is looking for another site to house this telescope.

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The new telescope will train students across the UH system in modern observational techniques, provide opportunities for undergraduate research, and allow users to gain experience in telescope operations, according to the university’s proposal. The students will be able to monitor a wide array of phenomena including asteroids, comets and supernovas, which would be invaluable for those seeking a career in astronomy. UH students and faculty will utilize the telescope for laboratories and research projects as well as outreach events and programs involving the community. UH-Hilo will also work closely with local high schoolers and the community to develop opportunities in conducting observations with the educational telescope.

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The UH-Hilo Hōkū Keʻa on Maunakea is one of the two observatory facilities on the summit that is currently being decommissioned. It is anticipated the decommissioning of Hōkū Keʻa will be completed in 2023 and the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory to be completed in 2022.

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