Astronomical observatory in Hawaii, built on a dormant volcano of that name at 4,200 m/13,784 ft above sea level. Because of its elevation high above clouds, atmospheric moisture, and artificial lighting, Mauna Kea is ideal for infrared astronomy. The first telescope on the site was installed in 1970.
Telescopes include the 2.24-m/88-in University of Hawaii reflector (1970). In 1979 three telescopes were erected: the 3.8-m/150-in United Kingdom Infrared Telescope (UKIRT) (also used for optical observations); the 3-m/120-in NASA Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF); and the 3.6-m/142-in Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT), designed for optical and infrared work. The 15-m/600-in diameter UK/Netherlands James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) is the world's largest telescope specifically designed to observe millimetre wave radiation from nebulae, stars, and galaxies. The JCMT is operated via satellite links by astronomers in Europe. The Keck Telescopes, are also situated on Mauna Kea. In 1999 the 8.1-m/319-in Gemini North reflector saw ‘first light’. It is partnered with an identical telescope, Gemini South, at Cerro Pachón in the Chilean Andes.
In 1996 the capacity of the JCMT was enhanced by the addition of SCUBA (Submillimetre Common-User Bolometer Array). SCUBA is a camera comprising numerous detectors cooled to within a tenth of a degree of absolute zero (0 K) and is the world's most sensitive instrument at the 0.3–1.0-mm/0.01–0.04-in wavelength.
Mauna Kea Observatories
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