Mauna Kea Observatories
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|Mauna Kea Observatories|
The summit of Mauna Kea is managed by the University of Hawai'i's Institute for Astronomy. Mauna Kea is one of the most important land-based astronomy sites in the world.
|Organization||University of Hawai'i Institute for Astronomy|
|Location||Mauna Kea, Hawai'i, USA|
|Altitude||4205 m (13,796 ft)|
The Mauna Kea Observatories (MKO) are an independent collection of astronomical research facilities located on the summit of Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawai'i, USA. The facilities are located in a 500-acre (2.0 km2) special land use zone known as the "Astronomy Precinct", which is located in the Mauna Kea Science Reserve. The Astronomy Precinct was established in 1967 and is located on land protected by the Historical Preservation Act for its significance to Hawaiian culture.
The location is ideal because of its dark skies, good astronomical seeing, low humidity and position above most of the water vapor in the atmosphere, clean air, good weather and almost equatorial location.
The altitude and isolation in the middle of the Pacific Ocean makes Mauna Kea one of the best locations on earth for ground-based astronomy. It is an ideal location for submillimeter, infrared and optical observations. The seeing statistics show that Mauna Kea is the best site in terms of optical and infrared image quality—for example the CFHT site has a median seeing of 0.43 arcseconds.
Accommodations for research astronomers are located at the Onizuka Center for International Astronomy (often called Hale Pōhaku), 7 miles by unpaved steep road from the summit at 9300 feet (2835 m) above sea level. An adjacent visitor information station is located at 9200 feet (2775 m). The summit of Mauna Kea is so high that tourists are advised to stop at the visitor station for at least 30 minutes to acclimate to atmospheric conditions before continuing to the summit, and scientists often stay at Hale Pōhaku for 8 hours or more before spending a full night at observatories on the summit, with some telescopes requiring observers to spend one full night at Hale Pōhaku before working at the summit.
Telescopes found at the summit of Mauna Kea are funded by government agencies of various nations. The University of Hawai'i itself directly administers two telescopes. In total, there are 12 telescopes at or around the summit of Mauna Kea. It will also be the site of the Thirty Meter Telescope and is a proposed site for Pan-STARRS.
- Caltech Submillimeter Observatory (CSO): Caltech
- Canada France Hawai'i Telescope (CFHT): Canada, France, University of Hawai'i
- Gemini North Telescope: United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Chile, Australia, Argentina, Brazil
- Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF): NASA
- James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT): United Kingdom, Canada, Netherlands
- Subaru Telescope: National Astronomical Observatory of Japan
- Sub-Millimeter Array (SMA): Taiwan, United States
- United Kingdom Infrared Telescope (UKIRT): United Kingdom
- University of Hawai'i 88-inch (2.2 m) telescope (UH88): University of Hawai'i
- University of Hawai'i 36-inch (910 mm) telescope (Hoku Kea): University of Hawaii at Hilo
- One receiver of the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA): United States
- W. M. Keck Observatory: California Association for Research in Astronomy
2006 Hawaii earthquake
A number of the telescopes sustained minor damage during the October 15, 2006 Hawaii earthquake and aftershocks. Both CFHT and W. M. Keck Observatory were operational and back online by October 19.
- Timeline of telescopes, observatories, and observing technology
- Other major international observatories (under active development):
- Historically important observatories (not undergoing substantial development):
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mauna Kea Observatories.|
- Official Mauna Kea Observatories website
- Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station
- Mauna Kea webcams
- Essay on visiting the Mauna Kea Observatories
- Weather forecast for Mauna Kea summit
- Office of Mauna Kea Management
- Thirty Meter Telescope Hawaii Environmental Impact Statement Process
- Mauna Kea Comprehensive Management Plan