World's Biggest Telescope—Coming Soon—To Hawai`i Island

World's Biggest Telescope—Coming Soon—To Hawai`i Island

We’ve got world-class dining; our beaches are among the most pristine on the planet; and we have a blend of cultures you can’t find anywhere else on the globe. But how many of you realize that we’ve also got the number one locale on earth to view and document the heavens? Well, we do. Soon, we’ll add the world’s largest telescope to that locale.

On the summit of Maunakea, our 13,796-foot (above sea level) volcano, scientists have deduced more about the origins of life than anywhere else on the globe. And in less than a decade, we’ll have another stat to add to the record books.

The world’s most powerful astronomical telescope—which will measure over 30 meters, and is actually named the “Thirty Meter Telescope” (TMT)—is currently being built for the site. Don’t hold your breath: It won’t be operational until 2018. But when it is, we will literally have a device that can look back in time, to see how our universe was formed. Let that stew in your noodle this weekend…

The Big Island of Hawai`i’s ideal environs—calm, dry air, elevation and so on—currently allow for 13 immense telescopes to report on the celestial happenings. This past July, one said telescope beamed images of a comet striking Jupiter around the world for enthusiasts to gawk.

This new telescope will allow scientists to look 13 billion light years in to deep space—a number that might sound familiar to science geeks, conspiracy theorists and star-gazers: Our universe was reportedly created during the Big Bang, which occurred some time between 14 and 13 billion years ago. Essentially, scientists are hoping the Thirty-Meter Telescope will act as a giant Tivo/DVR, showing us what has occurred on the universal level from then until now. Talk about heady…

Every day star-enthusiasts can get a taste of this sort of thing by stopping by the Onizuka Center for International Astronomy, located at 9,300-feet up Maunakea. Portable telescopes, information on the ancient Hawaiians advanced knowledge of star mapping, knowledgeable guides and hot drinks can all be attained at Onizuka. The center is open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. You can learn more about it here: http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/info/vis/stargazing.html

Certain outfits, like Hawaii Forest & Trail, invite visitors to experience the summit on one of their day-long tours. Read about them here: http://www.bonhawaii.com/hawaii-forest-trails-hilo-adventure-island-first]

On the Hilo side of Hawaii Island, Imiloa Astronomy Center is an excellent way to learn about the melding of astronomy and Hawaiian culture. They have stunning exhibits, a tasty café, and it’s conveniently located. The Fairmont Orchid, Hilton Waikoloa Village, Kona Village Resort and Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel each offer some form of star-gazing activity for guests. Finally, the Big Island’s Visitors Bureau offers a lovely list of links for those keen on learning about the heavens whilst visiting the isle. (http://www.bigisland.org/activities-air/13/star-gazing)

Until then, live long and prosper.

This past July, one telescope beamed images of a comet striking Jupiter around the world for enthusiasts to gawk.