An 8.2-m Optical-Infrared Telescope
The Subaru telescope is an optical-infrared telescope at the 4,200 m (13,460ft.) summit of Mauna Kea on the island of Hawaii. The telescope represents a new generation in telescope design not only because of the size of its primary mirror with an effective aperture of 8.2 meters, but also because of the various revolutionary technologies used to achieve outstanding performance. An active support system that maintains an unprecedentedly high mirror surface accuracy, a new enclosure design to suppress local atmospheric turbulence, an extremely accurate tracking mechanism using magnetic driving systems, seven observational instruments installed at the four foci, and an auto-exchanger system to use the observational instruments effectively are just some of the unique features associated with this telescope. These sophisticated systems have been used and fine-tuned since the telescope's First Light.
A Telescope with Superb Light-Collecting and Light-Resolving Power
The main function of a telescope is to collect light. Subaru has a large 8.2 m diameter primary mirror. Once photons are collected, a telescope must focus them into a sharp image. Through careful site selection, enclosure and telescope design, Subaru was built to obtain the highest resolving power possible. A computer controlled system of support holds the Mauna Kea's smoothest single piece primary mirror in shape with a surprisingly small error of 0.012 μm (1/5,000,000 inch). The cylindrical shape enclosure minimizes air turbulence inside, and linear motors drive the solidly built telescope smoothy and accurately.
Subaru's internationally growing reputation for exellent image quality is a testimony to the success of these innovative technologies.
What does "Subaru" mean?
The Subaru telescope is named after the young star cluster Pleiades, whose Japanese name is "Subaru". Japanese people have admired the beauty of the Pleiades for over 1,000 years. "Subaru", originally pronounced "Sumaru", means "to get together" or "to tie together". It is a befitting name for an internationally open research facility.