Canada-France-Hawaii-Telescope on Mauna Kea

A view from the Canada-France- Hawaii Telescope on Mauna Kea

From the CFHT catwalk, some of the other telescopes atop Mauna Kea. From left: CalTech Submillimeter Telescope, James Clerk Maxwell Telescope, Smithsonian Submillimeter Array, Suburu Telescope, W. M. Keck Observatory (I and II), and the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility.

The interior of the Canada-France- Hawaii Telescope

The steel arms attached to the giant horseshoe, which enable the telescope to pivot. The telescope itself is in the vertical plane, with the mirror in the circular enclosure at the bottom, surrounded by instruments.

The Kama‘āina Observatory Experience was introduced by President Obama at the White House Astronomy Night in October 2015. The idea is for people who live on the Big Island and elsewhere in the state, to have an opportunity to visit the telescopes and learn a bit about what they do, as well as learn about the natural history and cultural significance of Mauna Kea.

Last weekend, I got the opportunity to take part and the Canada-France-Hawaii-Telescope (CFHT) was the first telescope visited. The telescope dates back to 1979 as is seen in the massive steel arms of the telescope and some of the instrumentation in the control room – love those analog weather instruments in the top row.

The age of the telescope doesn’t mean it’s unsuitable for the modern era. CHFT is a 3.6 meter optical/infrared telescope, but while the mirror and its housing is old school, the supporting instruments are the latest in high tech. And nowadays, like most of the telescopes on the mountain, no one needs to be there overnight; they’re operated remotely.

While a good deal of the information went over my head, and out toward the stars, it was a thoroughly worthwhile experience. I’d recommend it to anyone, but you have to be kama‘āina, a Hawaii resident.

For more information on the Canada-France-Hawaii-Telescope, go to cfht.hawaii.edu/
For more information on the Kama’āina Observatory Experience, go to kamaainaobservatory
experience.org/

The interior of the Canada-France- Hawaii Telescope

The huge steel arms which support the telescope.

Doug Simons, Executive Director of the CFHT, explains details of the telescope’s control room. Note the analog instruments, above and to the left of his head, which register conditions outside the building, a reflection the telescope’s late 1970’s roots.

Doug Simons, Executive Director of the CFHT, explains details of the telescope’s control room. Note the analog instruments, above and to the left of his head, which register conditions outside the building, a reflection the telescope’s late 1970’s roots.

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