Control Building at Summit of Mauna Kea
November 30, 2001
We show the control building of Subaru Telescope at the summit of Mauna Kea this month. As we introduced to you on the February 2001 issue, Hale Pohaku, which is in the middle of Mauna Kea at the about 2,800 meters elevation, is a place where astronomers stay and day-workers rest. It takes approximately 30 minutes from Hale Pohaku to the summit, and only four-wheel drive vehicle are permitted.
There are two Subaru facilities at the 4,200 meters elevation at the summit of Mauna Kea. The building on the right in the following picture is the Subaru enclosure whose height is about 40 meters. On the left side is the control building, which we are introducing at this time.
The Subaru Telescope is controlled from the observation room in the control building apart from the enclosure. Astronomers and Subaru's operators who support their observations do not enter the enclosure during the observations at night. If people enter the enclosure, the air inside the enclosure is disturbed because of the emitted heat from the human bodies, and there is a possibility of having some influence on the celestial images.
There are three clocks in the observation room: the left shows the Hawaiian standard time, the middle is the universal time, and the right displays the Japanese standard time (you can see "Tokyo"). Generally, astronomers use the universal time as the standard time system. Since the headquarters of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) is in the west side of Mitaka city in the Tokyo Prefecture in Japan, we also see the Japanese standard time.
When we look down at the control building from the enclosure, we can see there is a passage to the enclosure. The day-workers go through the passage to enter the enclosure.
We will be able to control the Subaru Telescope from the base facility in Hilo; that is called a "remote observation." After carrying out the remote observation, astronomers do not have to go up to the summit. Furthermore, with advance preparation we plan to control the telescope from the headquarters of NAOJ in Japan. Using the 19-hour time difference between Hawaii and Japan, Japanese astronomers can observe more comfortably (for example, 4 am in Hawaii is 11 pm on the same day in Japan).