Faulkes Telescope Draft Environmental Assessment Published

University of Hawaiʻi
Contact:
Posted: Jan 16, 2001

Bringing the universe into Hawaii's classrooms took a major step forwardon January 23rd when the University of Hawaii's (UH) Institute for Astronomyand the Faulkes Telescope Corporation released to the public the draft environmentalassessment for the Faulkes Telescope Project. This project proposes tolocate a two-meter (80-inch) telescope at the Haleakala Observatories Site(sometimes referred to as Science City). This professional-grade telescopewill be the largest in the world dedicated to astronomical education. Accessto the telescope in Hawaii will be available to public and private schoolsand to the science programs of the UH system and other colleges and universities.

The draft environmental assessment is available at: http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/haleakala/ea/on the World Wide Web.

Comments regarding the draft Environmental Assessment should be mailedto:

Dr. Rolf-Peter Kudritzki, Director
Institute for Astronomy
University of Hawaii
2680 Woodlawn Drive
Honolulu, HI 96822

The telescope's construction will be financed by the Dill Faulkes EducationalTrust of the United Kingdom (UK) and will be named in honor of Dr. Martin"Dill" Faulkes, the founder of the trust. Plans call for havingthe instrument operational in January 2002. It will be housed in a state-of-the-artfacility with an enclosure that opens like a clamshell and that will becapable of exposing the entire telescope to the night sky.

The Faulkes Telescope represents a new generation of astronomical telescopes. It will be operated remotely from control centers in the United Kingdomor Hawaii-no operator "on the mountain" will be needed. The telescope'scontrol system will determine if the weather is good enough to observe,point the telescope, take the images requested, and then move to the nextobservation. At the end of the night, or if the weather deteriorates, theclamshell will close and the telescope will shut down. The initial instrumenton the Faulkes telescope will be a state-of-the-art electronic camera forobserving the sky. An electronic camera sensitive to infrared radiationthat will allow operation of the telescope during daylight hours will beadded to the observatory in July 2002.

There have been many attempts to develop programs to teach students aboutscience. The Faulkes Telescope Project will draw upon the great publicinterest in astronomy to teach students what science is. Astronomersin Hawaii and the UK plan to engage students in research projects that willbe published in the scientific literature. They will encourage joint projectsin which students will collaborate over the Internet with their counterpartshalfway around the world.

By directing the telescope's operations remotely over the Internet, studentswill be able to access observing data in "real time" from theirclassrooms or to request observations in "robotic mode," muchas professional astronomers do in working with NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.

The Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii conducts researchinto galaxies, cosmology, stars, planets, and the Sun. Its faculty andstaff are also involved in astronomy education, and in the development andmanagement of the observatories on Haleakala and Mauna Kea. Refer to <http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/> formore information.