The Universe Tonight

May 5, 2012 6:00pm
W.M. Keck Observatory


Saturday May 5th at 6:00PM

 Andrew Cooper


 Behind The Operation of

The Keck Observatory

When most people think of the great observatories, it is images of stars and galaxies that come to mind.  We think of discoveries, of vast distances and timescales that dwarf human imagination.  These discoveries do not come easily; they are made possible by the enormous telescopes and sophisticated instruments of a modern observatory.  Maintaining these great machines is a staff of dedicated people… Engineers, programmers, technicians, electricians, welders and mechanics!  These are the people who make it possible, whose hard work has revealed a vast and wondrous universe. The operations staff of Keck Observatory is tasked with keeping the telescopes on-sky every night.  The men and women who repair and maintain two 10-meter telescopes, prepare the equipment for each night of observations.  Changing instruments, replacing dome bogie wheels, filling cryo and daily inspections; an endless list of tasks that must be done.  Come Join us and get a glimpse into the operations of Keck Observatory and the lives of the maintenance crew who commute to the summit every day.

On the first Saturday of each month, the Visitor Information Station (VIS) hosts The Universe Tonight, a special presentation on the current research and discoveries occurring on Mauna Kea. The presentation begins at 6:00 PM and is followed by the regular evening stargazing program at the VIS.

The Universe Tonight typically features an astronomer from one of the observatories on Mauna Kea giving a presentation on recent observations and discoveries from their telescope. Observatories are on a rotating schedule. If you would like to know about upcoming presentations, please call the VIS at (808) 961-2180 during operational hours.



Andrew Cooper is an electrical engineer with Keck Observatory, a member of the summit operations staff.  He has worked on the summit of Mauna Kea for five years, installing new systems and repairing the inevitable breakdowns.  An engineer, photographer, amateur astronomer and telescope maker, he appreciates the privilege of working atop this special mountain.  He has followed a simple rule his entire adult life…  Always carry a camera and use it!


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