ASSOCIATED PRESS / 1998
Mauna Kea's summit is short one telescope: its first. The first telescope to be placed atop the volcano, in 1968, has been retired and removed, to make way for a new, larger telescope for UH-Hilo astronomy faculty and students.
Mauna Kea’s first telescope is retired
KAILUA-KONA » The first telescope to be placed atop Mauna Kea has been retired and removed.
Scientists used the 24-inch telescope, built in 1968, to conduct pioneering observations on asteroids, outer planets and other objects in the solar system.
"This telescope had a lot of history," UH-Hilo Astronomy Professor William Heacox said. "Even though the years of wear and tear had eroded its capabilities, we were still sad to see it go."
Many University of Hawaii astronomy students learned the craft using the instrument. UH-Hilo faculty and students used it to collect data for more than 13 published research projects since 1995.
"It is fair to say that most, perhaps all, of our astronomy graduates have learned how to 'do astronomy' with the old 24-inch telescope in its unheated dome," Heacox said.
"I have probably spent more than 100 nights using that instrument, and did most of my Ph.D. thesis research with it in the mid-1970s."
The recent removal of the old telescope and installation of the new dome clears the way for a larger telescope for UH-Hilo astronomy faculty and students.
The new telescope is being funded by a $650,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. University repair and maintenance funds will pay for the building reconstruction.
The new telescope is being built by Equinox Interscience, Inc. of Golden, Colo. It will be shipped to Hilo in October and, once installed, will be remotely operated from the new Science and Technology Building on the Hilo campus.
Mauna Kea, one of five volcanoes that form the Big island, is the highest point in the state at 13,796 feet. It houses 12 of the world's leading observatories for optical, infrared and submillimeter astronomy.