Telescopes in Hawaii reopen after deal with protesters

Science | AAAS | 8/13/2019 | Staff
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Astronomers at the 12 observatories atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii returned to work on 10 August, after a deal was made with protesters blocking construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT).

State authorities brokered the deal, which includes the construction of a temporary roadway built across hardened lava around the protesters’ camp on the summit access road. Law enforcement will give protesters an advance list of all vehicles going up and down—to show that they are not associated with the TMT.

Astronomers - End - Shutdown - Observatories—the - History

Astronomers are grateful for an end to the 4-week shutdown of the existing observatories—the longest in the 5-decade history of the Mauna Kea observatories. “It was very far-reaching,” says Sarah Bosman of the University College, who lost 3 nights of time to observe distant galaxies with the twin W. M. Keck Observatory telescopes. “Every area of astronomy was affected by this.”

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The Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) reported that on its first night back in operation, it located an asteroid called 2006 QV89 that was potentially on a collision course with Earth. Discovered 13 years ago, the asteroid drifted out of observing range before astronomers could get a fix on its orbit. CFHT was perfectly positioned last month to pin down its trajectory when observations were halted. After a nail-biting month, CFHT astronomers picked up the asteroid’s trail straight away on the night of 10 August. Within an hour of publishing their results on 11 August, researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, confirmed there was no risk of a collision at any time in the next century—including nine close encounters in the next decade.

TMT - Project - Telescope - Northern - Hemisphere

The $1.4 billion TMT project, which will be the largest telescope in the Northern Hemisphere, has struggled ever since its groundbreaking ceremony was...
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