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Message from the Chancellor: Public input sought on UH Hilo proposed teaching telescope

Comments may be made online today Sept. 23 through Oct. 24. To learn more, the public is invited to an open house on Wednesday, Oct. 5, from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. at the UH Hilo Sciences and Technology Building, room 108.


Bonnie Irwin
Bonnie D. Irwin

I want to share that the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo’s Draft Environmental Assessment (DEA) on its proposal to locate our 28-inch educational telescope at Halepōhaku will be available for public review and comment beginning today, September 23, 2022.

The proposed project includes a 14-foot high, 18-foot diameter dome that will house the teaching telescope. The dome will be placed on a yet to be constructed wooden deck that will connect to an existing building at Halepōhaku.

A DEA is required by the Hawai‘i Board of Land and Natural Resources for astronomy facilities placed within the state conservation district. The DEA for the UH Hilo teaching telescope anticipates a finding of no significant impact. The official State of Hawai‘i Office of Planning and Sustainable Development notice includes instructions on how to provide comments, which will be considered during the preparation of the final environmental assessment. The deadline to provide comments on the DEA is October 24, 2022.

The public will have the opportunity to learn more about the project at an open house on Wednesday, October 5, from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. at the UH Hilo Sciences and Technology Building, room 108. There will be presentations by UH Hilo astronomy faculty and SSFM International Inc. SSFM will discuss its findings listed in the DEA. Topics will include proposed educational programs, such as culture-based STEM curriculum courses for local elementary, middle and high school students along with research opportunities for UH Hilo students. The public will also be able to see the telescope, which is currently housed in the Sciences and Technology Building.

The former site of the UH Hilo teaching telescope on the summit of Maunakea is now undergoing decommissioning that is scheduled to be completed in 2023.

I hope our local community takes some time to learn more about the teaching telescope and how it will benefit not only UH Hilo students, but the entire island. I am especially excited for the programming ideas that we have for the community-at-large to utilize the telescope.


Bonnie D. Irwin

Learn more about the teaching telescope project and environmental assessment project on the Virtual Open House for the UH Hilo New Educational Telescope Facility Environmental Assessment website

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