The T60 telescope on Haleakalā (photo by I. Scholl)

A Japanese planetary research observatory was blessed and dedicated on Monday, September 8 at the Haleakalā Observatories on Maui.

The new observatory came about because Tohoku University’s Planetary Science Program requested assistance from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Institute for Astronomy after the 2011 earthquake damaged its observatory building near Sendai, Japan.

The Institute for Astronomy was able to facilitate the re-use of an existing facility at the Haleakalā Observatory to accept the Tohoku 60-centimeter (24-inch) telescope known as T60. The observatory now houses the Japanese instruments and will provide spectacular data on Mars and planetary atmospheres from Haleakalā, which is one of the best observing sites in the world.

Said Institute for Astronomy Director Guenther Hasinger, “We are excited to enhance an already strong collaboration with the Japanese astronomy community by helping to get their 60-centimeter planetary telescope back on the sky.”

“Although this isn’t the largest telescope here, it brings unique instrumental capabilities to Hawaiʻi,” added Jeff Kuhn, an Institute for Astronomy Maui scientist.

Takahiro Obara, director of the Tohoku Planetary Science Program, also attended the dedication. He noted, “We are extremely pleased to take this next step with our partners at the University of Hawaiʻi. We expect that the many Japanese students and scientists that use this instrument will build an even stronger collaboration between the two institutions.”

An Institute for Astronomy news release

This article was corrected Sept. 10 to clarify the facility re-use arrangement.

—By Louise Good