UH provides earthquake-damaged Japanese observatory with dome on Haleakala

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Dr. Jeff Kuhn (Maui), (808) 573-9517
Astronomer, Institute for Astronomy
Dr. Guenther Hasinger, (808) 956-8566
Director, IfA, Institute for Astronomy
Posted: Sep 8, 2014

The T60 telescope on Haleakala. Photo by I. Scholl.
The T60 telescope on Haleakala. Photo by I. Scholl.

A Japanese planetary research observatory was blessed and dedicated today at Haleakala Observatories on Maui in the presence of about 25 scientists and administrators from the United States and Japan.

The new observatory came about because Tohoku University’s Planetary Science Program requested assistance from the UH Institute for Astronomy after the 2011 earthquake damaged its observatory building near Sendai, Japan.

The Institute for Astronomy (IfA) was able to facilitate the re-use of an existing facility at the Haleakala Observatory to accept the Tohoku 60-centimeter (24-inch) telescope known as “T60.” The observatory now houses the Japanese instruments and will provide spectacular data on Mars and planetary atmospheres from Haleakala, which is one of the best observing sites in the world.

Said IfA Director Guenther Hasinger, “We are excited to enhance an already strong collaboration with the Japanese astronomy community by helping to get their 60-centimeter planetary telescope back on the sky.”

Added Dr. Jeff Kuhn, an IfA Maui scientist, “Although this isn’t the largest telescope here, it brings unique instrumental capabilities to Hawaiʻi.”

Dr. Takahiro Obara, director of the Tohoku Planetary Science Program, also attended the dedication. He noted, “We are extremely pleased to take this next step with our partners at the University of Hawaiʻi. We expect that the many Japanese students and scientists that use this instrument will build an even stronger collaboration between the two institutions.”

This news release was corrected on September 10 to clarify the facility re-use arrangement.

Founded in 1967, the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa conducts research into galaxies, cosmology, stars, planets, and the sun. Its faculty and staff are also involved in astronomy education, deep space missions, and in the development and management of the observatories on Haleakala and Maunakea. The Institute operates facilities on the islands of Oʻahu, Maui, and Hawaiʻi.

For more information, visit: http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/info/press-releases/T60/