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Hawaii Residents Tour the Subaru Telescope - Kamaaina Observatory Experience

June 16, 2020
Last updated: January 19, 2021

Hawaii is globally renowned as a tourist destination. At the same time, the island of Hawaii is blessed with a world premier site on Maunakea for astronomical observation among many other sites. For its geographical difficulty, however, not many residents of Hawaii have a chance to visit the summit of Maunakea or the observatories around there.

For the purpose of offering more residents the opportunity to learn at first hand about our activities, including what the Subaru Telescope and other telescopes are doing, who are involved in forefront astronomy, and why astronomical research is so active and successful in Hawaii, a joint program called the Kamaaina Observatory Experience was launched with the Maunakea Observatories in 2016. The Subaru Telescope receives about 200 participants annually, with approximately 800 visitors in total to the entire Maunakea Observatories. Now in the fourth year, the event has been so popular, filling up its spots soon after online registration opens.

Hawaii Residents Tour the Subaru Telescope - Kamaaina Observatory Experience Figure

Figure 1: Participants on a tour at the observation room of the Subaru Telescope. (Credit: NAOJ)

Most recently held in February 15, 2020, the Kamaaina Observatory Experience took place at the Subaru Telescope. We welcomed curious-minded 24 kamaaina (meaning "local residents" in the Hawaiian language) at the operation site of the Subaru Telescope, who had an up-close view of the telescope. Some of them came all the way from other islands of Hawaii.

The tour was guided by 3 staff members: 2 day crew members working at the summit, Jonah and Michael, who are also our kamaaina duo often strumming the ukulele and singing during lunch break, and 1 public relations staff. The workplace for the day crew is the summit region of Maunakea located 4200 m in elevation, where they hardly have a chance to interact with visitors. One of the participants happened to be Jonah's acquaintance, who said with a smile about the unexpected encounter, "What a surprise to see her here." The day became a meaningful occasion to introduce our staff from the community of Hawaii who play a significant role for the Subaru Telescope, with wishes for advancement of astronomy with the people of Hawaii.

Hawaii Residents Tour the Subaru Telescope - Kamaaina Observatory Experience Figure2

Figure 2: Participants' group photo in front of the telescope. (Credit: NAOJ)

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