Working at Subaru Telescope
The Map of Hawaii Island
The Big Island of Hawai’i has two 4,000-meter-high mountains: Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. Telescopes for astronomy observations, including Subaru, are located at the summit of Mauna Kea. Astronomers stay at Hale Pohaku (“House of Rocks” in Hawai’ian) at the 2,800-meter level when they are not working at the summit. The Subaru Telescope is approximately 2 hours drive from Hilo.
The Road to the Mountain
Observers make their fi rst stop at the Base Facility in Hilo. Vehicles provided by Subaru then take them up to Hale Pohaku. Even though the roadway is paved up to Hale Pohaku, it is very steep and winding and special care is required. Above Hale Pohaku much of the road is unpaved. There is limited access after dark for safety and to maintain optimum conditions for nighttime observation.
Staying at Hale Pohaku : Preparing for Observation
It is important to adjust the body to the high altitude environment, so visiting astronomers acclimate by staying at Hale Pohaku before their initial observations begin. The facility has sleeping quarters, offi ces, and a dining facility serving meals.
To the Summit
Astronomers get ready for work as soon as they arive at the summit in the early evening. Once the Sun has set, their observations begin. This photo shows open ventilation windows in preparation for the night’s work.
Observation Room at the Summit
Observers work from the control building next to the dome without being in the enclosure itself. During actual observation time, the enclosure is vacant to ensure optimal viewing conditions, and astronomers and technicians control the telescope and other instruments from the observing room. For effi ciency, the visiting astronomer’s target information has already been programmed into computers that will control the telescope through out the night.
Remote Observation from the Base Facility
Some observations are done remotely from the Hilo Base Facility. In this case, the observer and the observation instrument operator are controlling the telescope and its peripheral imaging equipment from Hilo. Although this remote control room can duplicate some degrees of operation capabilities of the summit control room, for safety reasons, there are always at least two o perators on the summit who monitors the telescope and can take control, if necessary.