It was February 22, 2018 at 4:51 AM PST. This was a snow day in West Seattle. White stuff litters all the streets and the construction sites nearby. Schools are out for mid-Winter break until Monday. All quiet on the Western front here, as students remember their own in Florida.
So, as clouds blot the sky over the 6th floor observatory at The “Jim” Whittaker like a giant eraser, I have some time to write about…
The third largest optical telescope I used
A photo of the solar telescope setup – the 3rd largest I have used to date, as I was volunteering at the Visitors’ Centre (~9000 feet / 2770 metre) on Mauna Kea 5-6 years ago. This was a couple of years before OCT2014 and the beginning of the new series of native Hawai`ian protests over building the 30 Metre telescope on sacred ground. This was still when a native Hawai`ian astronomer worked on Mauna Kea.
It was the last time I will visit Mauna Kea…
Volunteers were trained in Hilo at the W.M. Keck facility, and then driven to setup telescopes and prepare for 10,000 visitors they may interact with each season.
The Visitors Centre is ~4800 feet below the summit at ~13800 feet / 4200 meters, and on the southerly side facing Mauna Loa, as the Winter shadows show. It is as high as the vast majority of visitors can drive. The gift shop is behind me with other volunteers.
“The Mauna Kea Observatories (MKO) are a number of independent astronomical research facilities and large telescope observatories that are located at the summit. The facilities are located in a 525-acre (212 ha) special land-use zone known as the “Astronomy Precinct“, which is located within the 11228-acre (4544 ha) 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.” – Wikipedia (2018)
To Be Clear – No NASA involvement in the TMT on Mauna Kea
NASA had pulled out of the Thirty Metre Telescope International Observatory, LLC before 2010. It saw little value in being associated with new ground-based telescopes, putting its effort into Space-based and Moon-based telescopes of the future.
Some insight into Colonial Culture…
and into that of ‘Hawai`i nei’
“33 Native Hawaiians Arrested Protecting Sacred Mountain From Giant Telescope”
A decade-long fight over the proposed construction of a giant telescope on a mountain considered sacred by some Native Hawaiians came to a head Wednesday when 33 elders were arrested for blocking the road to the summit, HuffPost Reported.
The most recent protests kicked off Monday, when construction on the $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) was set to begin on Mauna Kea on Hawaii’s Big Island.
(Some) astronomers say the mountain is one of the best places in the world to get a clear view in an attempt to understand the origins of the universe. But some Native Hawaiians revere the mountain as sacred. It is both a place where important ancestors are buried, and a place believed to be an entrance point to heaven, CNN explained.
“We’re losing all of the things that we’re responsible for as Hawaiians,” activist Walter Ritte, who was one of eight to chain himself to a grate on the access road Monday, told Hawaii News Now. “We’re responsible for our oceans. We’re responsible for our land. We’re responsible for our future generations,” he said. “We must win this battle,” he added.”