For the Media

The following are some notes on rules to observe and words of caution and advice for media visiting the NAOJ Hawaii Observatory.

Rules You Must Observe

  • For the Subaru Telescope, the coverage request form must be submitted in advance. Requests are not accepted on-site. Accompanying persons not listed in the request submitted in advance will not be permitted, so please do not bring along unauthorized persons.
  • You must comply with the instructions of Observatory staff at all times. Pay especially close attention to safety explanations, instructions about the route you will follow and instructions given in the event of emergency evacuation, and comply with those instructions fully.
  • Do not enter any other than the designated locations.
  • In the event of emergency, or if the Observatory judges that serious circumstances obstructing the operation of the telescope have occurred, stop all operations and immediately take action as instructed by Observatory staff.
  • Arrive at the appointed assembly location on time.
  • Be considerate of the environment of the entire peak area. Follow the rules and act appropriately in the Subaru Telescope facilities.

Special Cautions, General Cautions and Recommendations when covering the facilities atop Mauna Kea

Special Cautions

Mauna Kea has an elevation of 4,200m. Air pressure at the peak is only 60% of the pressure at sea level. Because of the thinness of oxygen in the atmosphere, visitors to the facilities at the peak are in danger of altitude sickness. For some people, the altitude may have a harmful effect on medical condition.
Persons who have health concerns and pregnant women are advised not to visit the facilities.

General Cautions and Recommendations

Conditions at the peak can cause oxygen deficiency, leading to degradation of metabolic function. For this reason, please consider the following cautions and recommendations.

  • Smoking and consumption of alcohol are strictly prohibited within the grounds of the Subaru Telescope. Visitors are advised to avoid smoking and consuming alcohol for 48 hours before their visit.
  • The difference in air pressure can cause gas to accumulate in the digestive tract. On the day before your visit, please avoid excessive consumption of foods that generate gas (beans, cabbage, onions and other foods that induce flatulence).
  • Dehydration can leave you vulnerable to altitude sickness. You are advised to consume large amounts of water.
  • Do not go scuba diving in the 24-hour period before your visit.
  • To accustom your body to the altitude, please rest at the Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station for at least 1 hour on your way up the mountain.
  • Do not try to hurry when you are inside the Subaru Telescope facilities. Avoid crouching down and standing up suddenly, as when picking up something you’ve dropped.
  • If you feel ill, do not ignore it. Tell an Observatory staff member about your condition. If you feel ill on the day of your visit, we recommend that you cancel the visit. The nearest medical facilities from the peak are a 11/2- to 2-hour drive down the mountainside, and no professional medical staff are stationed at the Observatory.
What to Wear
  • You will not be permitted access to the Subaru Telescope if you are wearing unstable and impractical footwear, such as high heels or sandals, or clothing that is impractical for working within the dome, including climbing and descending steep stairs.
  • Even in summertime the temperature at the peak frequently drops close to 0°C. Be sure to bring thick, long-sleeved outerwear. Ladies are advised to wear pants rather than skirts.
  • Helmets must be worn at all times in and around the dome of the Subaru Telescope.
Access to the Peak of Mauna Kea
  • There is a road to the peak of Mauna Kea, but there is no public transportation authority with jurisdiction over it.
  • The road upward from MKVIS is unpaved. It is impassable without a four-wheel-drive vehicle.
  • The speed limit on the road upward from MKVIS is 25mph (40kph). The grade is steep, so you are advised to keep your vehicle in low gear when descending to avoid excessive speed.
  • Large vehicles regularly travel along the unpaved roads to carry out maintenance. When overtaking these vehicles or passing them in the opposite direction, drive slowly, follow any instructions from the drivers of the large vehicles, and drive with caution.
  • The mountainsides often become foggy, making visibility worse than ever. At such times exercise special care regarding your speed and surrounding conditions.
  • To preserve the natural environment as well as the environment for astronomical observation, a speed limit of 5mph (8kph) is applied to the roads nearby the Subaru Telescope (see map). Please reduce your speed and obey the speed limit.
  • At the speeds listed above, the drive from MKVIS to the Subaru Telescope should take about 30 minutes.
  • When you park your car, please use the designated parking area on the paved section of road on the slope outside the Subaru Telescope dome. Observation visitors are asked to enter and exit through the doors between the outside of the dome and the elevator. Please do not enter any unpaved areas, whether by car or on foot.
  • The distance from the City of Hilo on the east side of the island, where the mountaintop facilities of the Subaru Telescope are located, to the City of Kona on the west side of the island, is between 120km and 160km (80–100 miles). The distance from the center of Hilo to the peak is about 70km (45 miles). Including a one-hour rest halfway up the mountainside, the drive should take between 31/2 and 4 hours. Depending on the traffic in and around Kailua and Kona, it may take a little longer.
Other Notes
  • The upper part of the dome of the Subaru Telescope functions as part of the telescope; it does not have the character of a separate building. Also, accessibility is not established in all areas. If you use a wheelchair, please contact the Operation Center in advance.
  • While in the dome, you must wear one of the helmets available for lending to visitors.
  • There are no washroom facilities along or near the observation route. Please take care of your washroom needs at MKVIS or in the simple toilet facilities just before the peak.
  • Please do not consume food or beverages inside the facilities of the Subaru Telescope. You may carry drinks to maintain your health, provided that you carry and manage them yourself.
  • Take all of your garbage with you when you depart.
  • The Observatory does not offer a lost-and-found service. Please take sufficient care of your belongings. Be aware that it is especially easy to forget things on the peak.
  • When walking around the Subaru Telescope on the peak, please walk carefully and stay on the paved section. Volcanic ash and lapilli (small stones that fall from the sky in a volcanic eruption) are specially placed to support the performance of the telescope; please do not trespass in these areas.

Use of content published on the official website of the NAOJ Hawaii Observatory (Subaru Telescope) or this website

  • When using content published on the official website of the NAOJ Hawaii Observatory (Subaru Telescope) or this website, please comply with the Terms of Use of the official website of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, National Institutes of National Sciences.
  • Text, images, video and other content that are the copyright of NAOJ may be used without the permission of the rightsholders for the purpose of academic research, education or the promotion of scientific activity at schools or other educational institutions; for other non-profit, personal use; or by news organizations as material for news coverage. In case of such usage, please credit NAOJ. Also, please refrain from altering the content in ways that significantly damage the original work.
  • If the content is to be used for commercial or other for-profit purposes, the consent of the rightsholders is required in advance. In case of such usage, please obtain the consent of NAOJ by submitting the prescribed form.
    Do not use the content on this website for any of the following purposes, for any reason:
    • Uses that are contrary to public order and morals
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