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Board to vote on design of new teaching telescope

The board of the Office of Maunakea Management will decide today whether to approve a design for a new teaching telescope to be installed at Halepohaku.

Early this year, OMKM announced its intention to construct a small observatory at Halepohaku, the mid-level facility on Maunakea, to house the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s never-used teaching telescope.

The new observatory, which in 2020 was anticipated to be completed in 2023, would coincide with the decommissioning of Hoku Kea observatory, one of three summit observatories to be decommissioned as part of the terms for the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope.

Hoku Kea housed a different UH teaching telescope, which was found to be irreparably faulty in 2010.

In preparation for construction of the observatory, the Maunakea Management Board today will discuss whether to approve a design for the site submitted by an Oahu geotechnical engineering firm.

According to schematics, the observatory will consist of a clamshell dome 18 feet in diameter on top of an approximately 774-square-foot deck connected to the existing Halepohaku dorm facility by an elevated walkway. Construction of the facility should require no more than 2 feet of excavation.

Meanwhile, a separate soil report found no potential contaminants at the site that could be disturbed by construction.

A UH spokesman declined to comment on the matter in advance of the meeting, although he said there still will be formal public outreach for the project in the future.

The intended site of the telescope has been controversial. OMKM solicited public feedback on the project last year and received mostly negative comments, many of which opposed not only the teaching telescope, but any further development on the mountain.

The Maunakea Management Board meeting will be held at 5 p.m. today and will be viewable online at

Email Michael Brestovansky at
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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