Maunakea Scholars and teachers on the Canada-France-Hawaiʻi Telescope catwalk in front of Gemini-North
Maunakea Scholars in front of the Gemini-North telescope

Students from Waiakea and Kapolei High Schools spent the night at the Canada-France-Hawaiʻi Telescope (CFHT) in the inaugural Maunakea Scholars program. The program provides Hawaiʻi high school students direct access to some of the world’s most powerful telescopes as well as mentorship for independent astronomy research projects ranging from quasars to exoplanets. Andreea Petric, CFHT resident astronomer and University of Hawaiʻi Institute for Astronomy graduate students Kelly Blumenthal and Evan Sinukoff served as mentors for the scholars.

Student proposals were submitted for review and telescope time awarded, much as it is for professional astronomers worldwide. Once telescope time was awarded, the students had the opportunity to visit the telescopes at the science reserve atop Maunakea for an in-depth look at the science and technology taking place, allowing them to use the data for their projects. The students also visited CFHT’s Waimea headquarters for a night of remote observing in the telescope control room, watching data stream live from the summit to computer systems in Waimea.

The program was a collaboration between the IfA, the Canada-France-Hawaiʻi Telescope, the Gemini International Observatory, the Deptartment of Education and Waiakea and Kapolei high schools. Next school year the program plans to double in size, offering even more opportunities for high school students across Hawaiʻi.

Maunakea Scholars under the Canada-France-Hawaiʻi Telescope