Are the telescopes at Mauna Kea available for anyone to use?

  • B
  • Thread starter swampwiz
  • Start date
  • #1
294
10

Main Question or Discussion Point

This article seems to say so.
https://www.accuweather.com/en/travel/the-best-stargazing-sites-in-the-us/632888
You can travel up Mauna Kea as high as you would like to view the stars. The clarity of the sky improves as you make your way upwards thanks to cleaner air. The cloud cover is below the summit. You are almost guaranteed a good view of the stars, regardless of the weather. There are currently 13 telescopes constructed at this spot. Anyone is free to use them.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
BillTre
Science Advisor
Gold Member
1,462
3,169
No, BYOT (bring your own telescope) is my guess.

These are large expensive research instruments.
There are probably many highly qualified reserchers who would be in line to use them before an average "anyone".
In biology, large expensive instruments would minimally require:
  • a use fee (more for those not in the research unit involved in running the instrument), often charged to a grant number
  • a good research question (those in charge of the instrument would not want time on it wasted on some frivolous thing when it could be put to a better use).
  • proper training in its use (so you don't damage it)
 
  • Like
Likes chemisttree and DaveE
  • #3
605
436
Junior colleges and astronomy clubs around me often will put on viewing events where anyone can come and look through their telescopes, sometimes in the observatory parking lots (pre-COVID, anyway). I suspect that is what they are referring to. Since it makes no sense to let "anyone" use a good telescope at a good location.

Especially at Mauna Kea, where there are other issues at play too.
 
  • Like
Likes russ_watters and BillTre
  • #4
Vanadium 50
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
2019 Award
24,536
7,418
I don't think a random bit-O-clickbait is a very good source, but no. "Hi, can you stop whatever research you are doing and let us take a peek?" Of course not.
 
  • Like
Likes russ_watters and swampwiz
  • #5
collinsmark
Homework Helper
Gold Member
2,896
1,235
I don't think any of the larger telescopes at Mauna Kea are even capable of visual observation with an eyepeice, except for maybe one.

The Subaru Telescope was once custom fitted with an eyepiece so that Princess Sayako could look through it directly for its dedication (in 1999). Otherwise, it's just instrumentation only (as far as anybody's telling, anyway). Most modern, large telescopes don't have the capability to operate visually.

But like others have mentioned, people compete for time on these instruments. A cloudy night or two could potentially doom a PhD candidate's life goals [Edit: or at least delay them]. So time on the telescopes is taken pretty seriously.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
  • Informative
Likes atyy, lomidrevo and BillTre
  • #6
Tom.G
Science Advisor
3,232
1,978
If you REALLY want to look thru a 'Big One' the 100in. on Mt. Wilson (outside Los Angeles, Calif.) offers a night of viewing for up to 20 people for USD5000. USD2700 for 1/2 night.

This is "...the telescope used by astronomers Edwin Hubble and Milton Humason in the late 1920s to measure the expansion of the Universe."

https://www.mtwilson.edu/100-telescope-observing/

The following day you can take about a 3Hr. drive to:
The 200in. on Mt. Palomar, which is closed to the public until further notice due to the corona virus.

https://www.mtwilson.edu/100-telescope-observing/

Cheers,
Tom
 
  • Wow
  • Like
Likes atyy and BillTre
  • #7
sophiecentaur
Science Advisor
Gold Member
24,606
4,517
viewing for up to 20 people for USD5000. USD2700 for 1/2 night.
You could buy a fair bit of your own kit for that. Not good value when you look at it that way, unless 'being there' is important for you. I have the same view on Antarctic cruises. People pay a lot of money and all they really achieve is to make the pollution situation worse. That's just selfish IMO. At least the pollution involved in visiting a telescope is no worse than going anywhere else. But I could even argue against that - except that some people who live in 'unpleasant' places deserve a break now and then.
 
  • Like
Likes collinsmark
  • #8
russ_watters
Mentor
19,660
5,932
I don't think a random bit-O-clickbait is a very good source....
Really? I always go to random sources first before checking the actual website of the place I'm thinking of visiting...
 
  • #9
russ_watters
Mentor
19,660
5,932
Anecdote: The Griffith observatory has a decent sized, pretty old refractor as one of its main instruments. Old enough it isn't used for research anymore. When I toured it, they had the control room mocked-up, with a TV screen showing a live view of the moon. Cool....but then I noticed the same C-11 I have in my backyard strapped to it, with a camera attached. That was disappointing.

Also, they had a Meade 10" SCT on a fork mount set up in the parking lot for anyone to look through.
 
  • Like
Likes collinsmark
  • #10
Vanadium 50
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
2019 Award
24,536
7,418
offers a night of viewing for up to 20 people for USD5000.
Yipes! They take "Hooker" pretty seriously!
 
  • #11
Vanadium 50
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
2019 Award
24,536
7,418
A cloudy night or two could potentially doom a PhD candidate's life goals [Edit: or at least delay them].
Happened to a friend of mine. His scope gets one night of rain per year. Guess which night.
 
  • Wow
Likes collinsmark
  • #12
Drakkith
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
20,854
4,599
The Subaru Telescope was once custom fitted with an eyepiece so that Princess Sayako could look through it directly for its dedication (in 1999).
Good god, I didn't really have a grasp for how large some of these telescopes were until I looked at a picture of this observatory. It's massive!!

Also, looking at this website gave me these interesting bits of information:

By the way, did you know that you can actually see more stars from the visitor station than from the Maunakea summit? Your vision at the summit is less acute because of the lack of oxygen there, meaning you can see less stars even though your are at higher elevation. Telescopes are obviously not bothered by a lack of oxygen so the summit *is* the best place for them.
And:

WHICH SPELLING IS CORRECT: MAUNA KEA OR MAUNAKEA?
Both Mauna Kea and Maunakea refer to the same place on the Big Island. Regardless of the spelling people will know what you mean by using either of the two versions.

According to the University of Hawaii at Hilo College of Hawaiian Language and following traditional Hawaiian values and the Hawaiian language, MaunaKea (one word) is the correct designation. Maunakea is a proper noun—the name of the mountain on the Island of Hawaii. “Mauna Kea” spelled as two words refers to any white mountain—it is a common noun (vs. the proper noun) [source].
 
  • Informative
Likes Tom.G and sophiecentaur

Related Threads on Are the telescopes at Mauna Kea available for anyone to use?

Replies
6
Views
1K
Replies
13
Views
4K
Replies
11
Views
2K
Replies
13
Views
1K
Replies
9
Views
6K
  • Last Post
Replies
8
Views
5K
Replies
7
Views
6K
Replies
10
Views
4K
Replies
1
Views
3K
Replies
9
Views
2K
Top