Mauna Kea Observatories

Mauna Kea Observatories seen from the base of Mauna Kea
The Submillimeter Array of radio telescopes at night, lit by flash.
From left-to-right: United Kingdom Infrared Telescope, Caltech Sub-Millimeter Observatory (closed 2015), James Clerk Maxwell Telescope, Smithsonian Sub-Millimeter Array, Subaru Telescope, W.M. Keck Observatory (I & II), NASA Infrared Telescope Facility, Gemini North Telescope
Snowy sunrise on Maunakea
Sunset over Mauna Kea Observatories
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The Mauna Kea Observatories (MKO) are a number of independent astronomical research facilities and large telescope observatories that are located at the summit of Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi, United States.

- Mauna Kea Observatories

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Mauna Kea

Dormant volcano on the island of Hawaii.

To illustrate Mauna Kea's dry prominence, imagine raising the sea level of the Pacific Ocean to submerge the top of Mauna Kea. Then slowly lower it again. The first thing to appear is the peak of Mauna Kea. Then Mauna Loa and peaks of the surrounding Hawaiian Islands will emerge from the ocean. If the ocean drains further, the island around Mauna Kea will grow and merge with the adjacent islands. Continue draining until a land bridge forms between the Hawaiian Islands and a continent so that it is possible to walk all the way there without getting wet. Stop draining at this point, and this bridge is the key col of a dry Mauna Kea, connecting it to Mount Everest. Mauna Kea's peak stands 9,330 m above this key col.
A stone structure or ahu facing Mauna Kea, on Saddle Road between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa
View of the mountain from Mauna Loa Observatory
David Douglas, a Scottish botanist who died on Mauna Kea in 1834
Mauna Kea silversword (Argyroxiphium sandwicense sandwicense) growing near the volcano's summit
A pair of māmane (Sophora chrysophylla) trees
The alalā or Hawaiian crow (Corvus hawaiiensis) is a bird in the crow family. It is extinct in the wild, with plans to reintroduce the species into the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge.
Sunset over four telescopes of the Mauna Kea Observatories. From left to right: the Subaru Telescope, the twin Keck I and II telescopes, and the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility.
Mauna Kea from the summit of Haleakalā on Maui, approximately 78 mi away
Mauna Kea from the Saddle Road near Hilo
Four observatories from the summit (left to right): UKIRT, UH88, Gemini North, and CFHT

The Mauna Kea Observatories are used for scientific research across the electromagnetic spectrum and comprise the largest such facility in the world.

Hilo, Hawaii

Census-designated place and the largest settlement in Hawaii County, Hawaii, United States, which encompasses the Island of Hawaii.

Hilo, Hawaii, 1907
Pride of America docked at Hilo Harbor; Hilo International Airport runway is visible in the background
(3) North Hilo and (2) South Hilo Districts are located in the east coast of Hawaii County (the Big Island). They are bordered by Hamakua District (4) in the north, and by Kau District (9) in the south and Puna District (1) in the southeast. The far inland areas are largely unpopulated, being forest reserves on the slopes of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa.

Mauna Kea is the site of some of the world's most important ground-based astronomical observatories.

Hawaii (island)

Largest island in the United States, located in the state of Hawaii.

James Kealoha Beach, "Carlsmith Beach Park", in Hilo
Aerial view, 3D computer-generated image
The five shield volcanoes
Steam plume as Kīlauea red lava enters the ocean at three Waikupanaha and one Ki lava ocean entries. Some surface lava is seen too. The image was taken on 16 April 2008.
Lava entering the Pacific at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park in April 2005, increasing the size of the island
Punaluʻu Black Sand Beach Park
Laʻaloa Bay, also known as "Magic Sands," located in Kailua-Kona
Anaehoʻomalu Beach panorama
Mobile atmospheric volcanic fog measuring station in Hawaii
Lehua blossoms, Hawaiʻi
Aerial view of Cyanotech Corp. microalgae ponds at NELHA
Bus in Hilo
ʻAkaka Falls on Kolekole Stream
Green sea turtle lying on an old lava flow; the background shows a Hawaiian temple, known as a "heiau" in the Hawaiian language.
Hawaii from space, 26 January 2014
Downtown Kona
Downtown Hilo
National parks, mountains and cities on the island
Topographic map of the island of Hawaii
Detailed map of the island of Hawaii

The island is also known for astronomy, with numerous telescopes operated on the summit of Mauna Kea at the Mauna Kea Observatories, where atmospheric clarity is excellent and there is little light pollution.

Opposition to the Mauna Kea Observatories

Three of Mauna Kea's existing telescopes: the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory (foreground), the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (middle distance), and the Submillimeter Array (background)
Kealoha Pisciotta, a former Mauna Kea Observatory employee, testifies at a State hearing in 2011.

Opposition to the Mauna Kea Observatories has existed since the first telescope was built in the late 1960s.

Thirty Meter Telescope

Under-construction extremely large telescope (ELT) that has become controversial due to its planned location on Mauna Kea, on the island of Hawaii.

Artist's rendering of proposed telescope
World map of proposed Thirty Meter Telescope sites &ndash; orange denotes lights; blue denotes elevation (land and water separately)
Thirty Meter Telescope design (late 2007)
Mirror sizes of existing and proposed telescopes. The two other new extremely large telescopes, the ELT and GMT are being built in the southern hemisphere
Cultural practitioner Joshua Lanakila Mangauil, along with Kahoʻokahi Kanuha and Hawaiian sovereignty supporters block the access road to Mauna Kea in October 2014, demonstrating against the building of the Thirty Meter Telescope.

Mauna Kea is ranked as one of the best sites on Earth for telescope viewing and is home to 13 other telescopes built at the summit of the mountain, within the Mauna Kea Observatories grounds.

Caltech Submillimeter Observatory

The Horsehead Nebula, as seen in visible light on the left, and on the right as a false color image made from data taken at the CSO, of the intensity of the 230 GHz rotational transition of carbon monoxide.
Caltech Submillimeter Observatory.

The Caltech Submillimeter Observatory (CSO) was a 10.4-meter (34 ft) diameter submillimeter wavelength telescope situated alongside the 15-meter (49 ft) James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) at Mauna Kea Observatories.


alt=The telescope building is pictured against a blue sky. The left side of the building is rectangular, while the right side is cylindrical and topped with the dome. The dome has a protrusion extending rightward. In the middle of this side of the building is the entrance. A black SUV is parked to the left of the entrance, and a white Jeep is parked on the horizon to the right of the building.|Telescope building
alt=On the left of the picture is a large medium brown cylinder oriented vertically; this is the telescope tube. The dark brown fork of the equatorial mount is in the foreground, connecting from its base at the bottom right to the side of the telescope tube. On the right, a person has reached the top of a staircase. At the top of the picture, an overexposed sky (appearing white) can be seen through the open observing slit.|A view inside the dome, showing the telescope and its equatorial mount
alt=A view looking up along the telescope tube. In the background, the open observing slit in the dome shows an overexposed sky. In the foreground, some electronic devices are mounted on the bottom end of the telescope tube, with messy cables. There are two orange boxes, two yellow racks of some kind, and a few other devices. On the side of the telescope tube directly in front of the camera is a narrow black cylinder; to its right, a set of weight plates is bolted to the telescope tube.|Hardware mounted on the bottom of the telescope tube
alt=A closeup of electronic devices mounted on the side of the telescope tube, a large brown cylinder. There is a lot of messy cabling, and there are some tubes with thermal insulation. One large piece of hardware, mounted to a circular feature on the side of the telescope tube, is covered with a thermal jacket as well. Written on the jacket with a marker are the names of color channels: "red", "green/photometric", and "blue". On the left and right sides of the picture, the dark brown arms of the equatorial mount fork extend from out of frame at the bottom corners up to the sides of the tube. Below the telescope tube and between the fork arms, the electronic gear shown in the previous picture is visible. Behind it, there is a view to the bottom of the dome, where various items are standing: a work cart, a stepladder, a pedestal fan, etc.|Hardware mounted on the side of the telescope tube
alt=An interior view of a curved, windowless room with desks along the sides. On the desks are computers and electronic instruments. In front of the desks are an oxygen bottle and an oscilloscope sitting next to an empty oscilloscope cart. Above the desks are shelves mounted to the walls, which hold more electronic instruments and a collection of binders. In the middle distance, three people (two seated and one standing) look at a computer screen which is hidden from our view by the curve of the room. In the background is an old Polycom video conferencing system with a large CRT TV on a cart, next to a bookshelf with magazine boxes, hard hats, and other items.|Control room
alt=A closeup of a handmade electronic control box on a control room desk. The box has a slanted front–top face equipped with a red rocker switch labeled "3 degree Override" and a large red button labeled "Emergency STOP". The horizontal top face of the box has two identical small black joysticks with rubber bellows, labeled with directions. Some of the labels are hidden and/or blurry, but the left joystick appears to be labeled "UP/DOWN/LEFT/RIGHT" and the right joystick appears to be labeled "S/N/E/W" (compass directions rotated 180° from the usual arrangement). The box's sides are blue and its face is gray. The labels were printed by a label maker, and have black text on a white background.|Control box, which appears to be for manually aiming the telescope
alt=A brass plaque with the negative space painted brown, in a brown wooden frame. The text on the plaque is transcribed on the picture's description page.|Commemorative plaque for the telescope

The University of Hawai'i 88-inch (2.24-meter) telescope—called UH88, UH2.2, or simply 88 by members of the local astronomical community—is situated at the Mauna Kea Observatories and operated by the University's Institute for Astronomy.

2006 Kiholo Bay earthquake

The 2006 Kīholo Bay earthquake occurred on October 15 at 07:07:49 local time with a magnitude of 6.7 and a maximum Mercalli intensity of VIII (Severe).

USGS ShakeMap for the event
Cliff falling in Waipio Valley during the earthquake
Keokea Beach Park pavilion
Hulihee Palace South wall, January 2007
Earthquake damage at the Hulihee Palace in January 2007

During the earthquake and aftershocks, a number of the telescopes at the Mauna Kea Observatories sustained minor damage, primarily Kecks 1 and 2 at the W. M. Keck Observatory, and the Canada–France–Hawaii Telescope (CFHT).

Eric Becklin

American astrophysicist.

Early 1900s comparison of elemental, solar, and stellar spectra

In 1988, while returning home from an observing run on Mauna Kea, Becklin was a passenger on Aloha Airlines Flight 243, which underwent explosive decompression and had to make an emergency landing in Maui.

216 Kleopatra

Large M-type asteroid with a mean diameter of 120 km and is noted for its elongate bone or dumbbell shape.

Kleopatra and its two moons imaged by VLT-SPHERE in 2017
Size comparison of asteroid Kleopatra with northern Italy

In 1988 a search for satellites or dust orbiting this asteroid was performed using the UH88 telescope at the Mauna Kea Observatories, but the effort came up empty.