The Challenge

A 21st Century Observatory Exploring the Farthest Reaches of the Universe.

To explore the Universe further... To comprehend nature deeper... Such wishes have been the principal motivating force that has led humankind to its high level of intellectual activity today. Limitless yearning pushed our forbearers to travel beyond their horizon, to navigate the unknown ocean. We descendants have stepped into space and onto the Moon, and are now reaching for the universe itself.

With the assistance of the latest technologies, today's astronomers believe that they are close to seeing the edge of the observable universe, which will probably be found about 14 billion light-years from Earth. Looking back through history, humans have always built wondrous instruments using the most advanced technologies of their times to investigate the limits of the observable universe. Stonehenge in England, considered as a stone-age observatory; the meticulous Mayan Calendar; the huge and precise Gnomon in ancient China are all among the top technological achievements of their respective times. Tycho Brahe's wall quadrant yielded highly accurate data of planetary positions, resulting in the birth of modern celestial mechanics soon thereafter. Herschel's gigantic reflector telescopes led him to recognize a huge stellar system: the Galaxy. These efforts to look deeper into the Universe have never been suspended.

Upon accumulating such innovative observational techniques age after age, we now rejoice in our view of a glorious Universe: innumerable stars are formed and dispersed, swirling galaxies crowd together and collide with each other, and space as a whole is rapidly expanding, while everything continues to change.

Astronomers built the Subaru Telescope to continue the exploration, inheriting the dreams of human beings throughout time. We are observing the formation of the first generation of galaxies, thus opening up new pages in the genesis of the Universe. We are investigating other planetary systems to determine the origins of life. We endeavor to observe the Universe farther and wider, to understand the our surroundings more deeply and correctly, and to identify our reason to be.

The Best Site: Mauna Kea, Big Island, Hawaii

Subaru Telescope is located on the summit of Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii. The summit of Mauna Kea is an isolated peak that protrudes above most of the Earth's weather systems. The air pressure up on Mauna Kea is only two-third of what it is at the sea level. Clouds typically form below the summit where an inversion layer keeps the clouds from rising to the summit. Because Hawaii is isolated from any other land mass, trade winds blow smoothly over the islands, and there are few cities to pollute its dark skies.

The summit of Mauna Kea is one of the best astronomical observing sites in the world. With 13 telescopes from 11 countries in operation, Mauna Kea has more telescopes from more countries than any other observing site. Besides Subaru, there are three other 8-10 m class telescopes on Mauna Kea, the Gemini North telescope and the two Keck telescopes.

Mauna Kea is an irreplaceable natural and cultural resource. As a science reserve, development is carefully managed to balance the needs of preservation as well as exploration.

Summit of Mauna Kea Latitude: 19d 50m
Longitude: 155d 28m
Altitude: 4205 m (13.760 ft.)
Air pressure: 600 mbar
Typical Nighttime temperature: 0 oC(32oF)
Typical Daytime temperature: 10 oC(50oF)
Humidity: 40 %
Typical Wind speed: 7 m/sec (15.7mph)
Clear nights: 240 nights/year

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