Undergraduate students at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo will soon have access to the Maunakea telescopes, an amazing opportunity to work with the world’s premiere telescopes located on the world’s best site for astronomy.
The UH Mānoa Institute for Astronomy (IfA) operates the UH 2.2 Meter Telescope, and UH scientists receive a set amount of observing time on nine of the other 10 telescopes. IfA manages the allocation of the observing time on behalf of all UH astronomers, and now under a recent agreement between IfA and the UH Hilo Department of Physics and Astronomy, Hilo students will receive a guaranteed share of this time.
“This agreement is the result of hard work and close collaboration between UH Hilo and UH Mānoa astronomers,” said UH Hilo Physics and Astronomy Department Chair Marianne Takamiya. “It opens the unique possibility for UH Hilo astronomy majors to learn how to use the largest and most powerful telescopes in the world.”
UH Hilo’s use of the telescopes will be increased over a ten year period, receiving six nights a year for the first five years, 10 nights a year for the second five years and then 16 nights every year thereafter.
“We will now be offering a program quite unique, where students can learn astronomical techniques and scientific research using an ensemble of small and medium aperture telescopes and the formidable facilities on Maunakea,” said Pierre Martin, the UH Hilo astronomy and observatory director. “A stronger astronomy program at UH Hilo also means more educational opportunities for the local communities and keiki, a prominent core value of our mission.”
Collaboration provides the world’s best training opportunities
In addition to allotting time with the telescopes, the agreement seeks to improve the integration of UH Hilo’s physics and astronomy department with the Hilo branch of the IfA. Faculty from both campuses will continue efforts to provide hands-on experiences with observational astronomy techniques and instrumentation for undergraduate and graduate students.
All of these developments are part of an expanding collaboration between the undergraduate astronomy programs at Hilo and Mānoa. The goal is to provide the world’s best astronomy research and training opportunities for all UH undergraduates.
“The long-term future of astronomy in Hawaiʻi depends on strong local and international recognition of astronomy in Hilo,” said IfA Director Günther Hasinger. “With this agreement, we set the stage for the education of the next generation of leaders in astronomy.”