2680 Woodlawn Drive • Honolulu, Hawaii 96822

Director's Office
Telephone: (808) 956-8566 • Fax: (808) 946-3467

January 22, 2001

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts:
Dr. James Heasley (phone: 808-956-6826; e-mail: heasley@ifa.hawaii.edu)
Mr. Mike Maberry (phone: 808-876-7600 ext 107; e-mail: maberry@ifa.hawaii.edu)
Mrs. Karen Rehbock (phone: 808-956-8566; e-mail: rehbock@ifa.hawaii.edu)

FAULKES TELESCOPE DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT PUBLISHED

Bringing the universe into Hawaii’s classrooms took a major step forward on January 23 when the University of Hawaii’s (UH) Institute for Astronomy and the Faulkes Telescope Corporation released to the public the draft environmental assessment for the Faulkes Telescope Project. This project proposes to locate a two-meter (80-inch) telescope at the Haleakala Observatories Site (sometimes referred to as Science City). This professional-grade telescope will be the largest in the world dedicated to astronomical education. Access to the telescope in Hawaii will be available to public and private schools and to the science programs of the UH system and other colleges and universities.

The draft environmental assessment is available on the World Wide Web.

Comments regarding the draft Environmental Assessment should be mailed to

Dr. Rolf-Peter Kudritzki, Director
Institute for Astronomy
University of Hawaii
2680 Woodlawn Drive
Honolulu, HI 96822

The telescope’s construction will be financed by the Dill Faulkes Educational Trust of the United Kingdom (UK) and will be named in honor of Dr. Martin "Dill" Faulkes, the founder of the trust. Plans call for having the instrument operational in January 2002. It will be housed in a state-of-the-art facility with an enclosure that opens like a clamshell and that will be capable of exposing the entire telescope to the night sky.

The Faulkes Telescope represents a new generation of astronomical telescopes. It will be operated remotely from control centers in the United Kingdom or Hawaii–-no operator "on the mountain" will be needed. The telescope’s control system will determine if the weather is good enough to observe, point the telescope, take the images requested, and then move to the next observation. At the end of the night, or if the weather deteriorates, the clamshell will close and the telescope will shut down. The initial instrument on the Faulkes Telescope will be a state-of-the-art electronic camera for observing the sky. An electronic camera sensitive to infrared radiation that will allow operation of the telescope during daylight hours will be added to the observatory in July 2002.

There have been many attempts to develop programs to teach students about science. The Faulkes Telescope Project will draw upon the great public interest in astronomy to teach students what science is. Astronomers in Hawaii and the UK plan to engage students in research projects that will be published in the scientific literature. They will encourage joint projects in which students will collaborate over the Internet with their counterparts halfway around the world.

By directing the telescope’s operations remotely over the Internet, students will be able to access observing data in "real time" from their classrooms or to request observations in "robotic mode," much as professional astronomers do in working with NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.

The Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii conducts research into galaxies, cosmology, stars, planets, and the Sun. Its faculty and staff are also involved in astronomy education, and in the development and management of the observatories on Haleakala and Mauna Kea. Refer to the Institute's Web site for more information.

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