The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo’s new $600,000 instructional telescope has been installed in the Hōkū Keʻa observatory building on Mauna Kea.
The first observations of astronomical objects were conducted by observatory Director David James, principal investigator Bill Heacox and astronomy technician Jay Slivkoff. The telescope was pointed first at the star Arcturus, known in Polynesian navigation as Hōkū Leʻa, the Star of Gladness.
Hōkū Leʻa is the brightest star to pass directly over Hawaiʻi and was a principal guide to Polynesian voyages sailing north from the Marquesas and Tuamotu Islands.
While some universities offer undergraduate access to research grade telescopes, the Hilo facility will be the only one operated by a baccalaureate institution when it becomes fully operational.
James says the Hilo telescope, located on what is arguably the best observing site in the world, will be entirely used for student teaching and research.