B Thirty Meter Telescope can resume construction

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Second-largest optical telescope project can resume construction after years of lawsuits.
Larger telescopes collect more light and, thanks to modern adaptive optics, achieve a better resolution. After several telescopes with ~10 m diameter three projects aim at much larger telescopes:
  • Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT), Chile, 24.5 m diameter, 368 m2 area
  • Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), Hawaii, 30 m (surprise!), 655 m2
  • Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), Chile, 39 m, 978 m2
GMT and ELT have been under construction for a while. TMT started construction, but then some Hawaiians filed lawsuits for cultural and religious reasons. After four years in various courts the project now got the permission to continue. Original announcement, news at Sky&Telescope. Assuming no further delay it can now see first light as early as 2027, two years after GMT and ELT: timeline. As the only extremely large telescope on the Northern Hemisphere there are objects only TMT will be able to study.


Personal opinion: These lawsuits are silly. They can't be about seeing the mountain without telescopes - it is way too late for that, several telescopes are highly visible on the top. ELT will be larger but due to its location it will be less visible than existing telescopes. They can't be about preserving the mountain in its original condition - it is too late for that, too.
Summits of tall mountains are sacred places in Hawaiian mythology but they don't have any special protection in Hawaii - there are roads to the summits and everyone can go there (not sure about Mauna Loa, but that is an active volcano...). Mauna Kea has excellent viewing conditions and the infrastructure to support such a telescope; it is the best place for TMT in the Northern Hemisphere. Learning more about the universe is a goal of every civilization - maybe the only goal every civilization can agree on. It brings together people from all over the world peacefully. Polynesians in particular have a long history of using stars to navigate oceans. Isn't a telescope to learn more about stars a great use of these summits?
TMT has strong support in the local population: 77% support/15% opposition in the general population, 72% support (no opposition number given) among native Hawaiians.
In the absence of majorities or real arguments the opponents started to invent arguments. This article discusses a long list of claims - everything from misleading to direct lies.


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... it is the best place for TMT in the Northern Hemisphere ...
Don't you think Gobi couldn't also be a good place, or the former Aral lake?
Gobi is dry but doesn't have the height of Mauna Kea (4100 m) - you are above ~40% of the atmosphere. It also doesn't have infrastructure in place, you would have to build everything from scratch. In addition you would have to find people happy to go there to build and then maintain the telescope.
As TMT is mainly funded by the US and Japan the Chinese part of the desert would be difficult for political reasons, not sure about the Mongolian part.

I don't know which advantages the area of the Aral Sea would have. It is at sea level and doesn't have the infrastructure for telescopes.

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