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Mauna Kea

The White Mountain

No work term at the Joint Astronomy Centre is complete without a couple of visits to the telescopes atop Mauna Kea.

Visitor Centre

When travelling up the mountain, a required stop to acclimatize gives you a chance to check out the Mauna Kea Visitor Centre (at about 9000 feet), and see some of the weird plants there.



The view from the Visitor Centre
Mauna Kea, Hawai'i (May 19th, '08)



Dad by one of the Visitor Centre telescopes
Mauna Kea, Hawai'i (May 19th, '08)



Strange plants by the Visitor Centre
Mauna Kea, Hawai'i (May 19th, '08)



Silversword at the Mauna Kea Visitor Centre
Hale Pohaku, Hawai'i (March 26th, '08)

Observers working at the telescopes spend their nights at Hale Pohaku ("Stone House") just above the Visitor Centre.



Hale Pohaku Dormitory
Hale Pohaku, Hawai'i (March 26th, '08)

The Telescopes at Mauna Kea

The drive to the summit requires 4-wheel-drive (highly recommended although some foolish tourists make the journey in their rental "economy" cars). Take it easy on this road! I've heard that some people think it's safer to drive it without a seat belt because if your car goes off the road, it's going straight down the mountain side, so you want to be able to get out ASAP!

Once at the summit you are rewarded with views of the many telescopes which take advantage of the crystal clear conditions caused by the high altitude and dry air. Check out the Univeristy of Hawai'i's Institute for Astronomy for details about the various telescopes on Mauna Kea.



CSO with other Mauna Kea telescopes in the background
Mauna Kea Observatories, Hawai'i (March 26th, '08)



Subaru telescope
Mauna Kea Observatories, Hawai'i (March 26th, '08)



The Keck telescopes
Mauna Kea Observatories, Hawai'i (March 26th, '08)



JCMT and CSO telescopes
Mauna Kea Observatories, Hawai'i (March 26th, '08)



The Submillimetre Array
Mauna Kea Observatories, Hawai'i (April 24th, '08)



Sunset over the Submillimetre Array
Mauna Kea Observatories, Hawai'i (March 26th, '08)

UKIRT

The Joint Astronomy Centre, where I was working, operates two of the most important telescopes in the world, UKIRT and JCMT. UKIRT is an infrared telescope, and Barbara and Deanna, the other two co-op students, worked for this telescope.



Some of the instruments mounted on the UKIRT telescope
Mauna Kea Observatories, Hawai'i (March 26th, '08)



The UKIRT control room
Mauna Kea Observatories, Hawai'i (March 26th, '08)



WFCAM widefield camera on UKIRT
Mauna Kea Observatories, Hawai'i (April 24th, '08)

JCMT

My work was for the James Clark Maxwell Telescope, a 15-metre submillimetre telescope which probes the depths of our universe. My most recent project was converting data from an older format into that produced by the ACSIS backend, but on a previous work term I worked on the software for simulating and reducing data for the SCUBA-2 bolometer array. While in Hawai'i SCUBA-2 finally arrived at the JCMT, and it was great to actually be able to see the behemoth in real life.



Evening outside the JCMT
Mauna Kea Observatories, Hawai'i (March 26th, '08)



Inside the JCMT control room, learning about observing
Mauna Kea Observatories, Hawai'i (March 26th, '08)



Standing next to the mount for SCUBA-2
Mauna Kea Observatories, Hawai'i (March 26th, '08)



JCMT antenna
Mauna Kea Observatories, Hawai'i (April 24th, '08)



The JCMT dish
Mauna Kea Observatories, Hawai'i (April 24th, '08)



The JCMT's goretex wind screen
Mauna Kea Observatories, Hawai'i (April 24th, '08)



ACSIS Backend Spectrometer
Mauna Kea Observatories, Hawai'i (March 26th, '08)



HARP-B Heterodyne Receiver
Mauna Kea Observatories, Hawai'i (March 26th, '08)



SCUBA-2 at the JAC ready to go up to the summit
Hilo, Hawai'i (March 26th, '08)



The SCUBA-2 mount
Mauna Kea Observatories, Hawai'i (March 26th, '08)



Me inside the JCMT next to SCUBA-2
Mauna Kea Observatories, Hawai'i (April 24th, '08)

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