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Decision on Giant Telescope Delayed by Hawaii Board

The decision regarding the giant telescope of Hawaii has been delayed again

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The giant telescope
FILE - This 2011 artist rendering shows the Thirty Meter Telescope. VOA
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A key decision on whether to place a $1.4 billion telescope in Hawaii to further astronomy research has been delayed, leaving open the possibility the project may be moved to Spain, a panel said Friday.

The board of governors for the project dubbed the Thirty Meter Telescope International Observatory still wants to build the telescope on its preferred site of Mauna Kea, a mountain in Hawaii.

But an alternative location in Spain’s Canary Islands remains under consideration, the board said in a statement after meeting this week to discuss legal and regulatory challenges to the Hawaii telescope plan that could last years.

The giant telescope at Hawaii
The Giant telescope.

“We continue to assess the ongoing situation as we work toward a decision,” said Ed Stone, the executive director of the observatory.

He said no decision could be made on where to put the telescope “until we have a place to go, and we don’t decide when we have a place to go — that’s decided by the courts and agencies.”

Also Read: Telescope Group chooses Canary Islands as an alternative to Hawaii

Dormant volcano

The 30-meter (98 feet) diameter telescope would be placed on one side of Mauna Kea and is far more advanced than the world’s largest current telescopes that measure 10 meters (32 feet) in diameter. The new telescope could potentially allow scientists to make groundbreaking discoveries about black holes, exoplanets, celestial bodies, and even detect indications of life on other planets.

Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano and Hawaii’s tallest mountain, was selected in July 2009 as the target location for the telescope after a five-year search.

Scientists called it the best site in the world for astronomy, given a stable, dry, and cold climate, which allows for sharp images. The atmosphere over the mountain also provides favorable conditions for astronomical measurements, according to the TMT website.

The island of La Palma in the Canary Islands, which already has an astronomical observatory, is considered a viable alternative. But scientists have said the telescope’s design would have to be altered for more adaptive optics given the mountain site’s lower altitude and different climate. That means it would take scientists more time to achieve the same discoveries they could make at Mauna Kea, Stone said.

Decision for location of the giant telescope delayed again.
Hawaii Board delays decision on location for the Giant telescope.

Years of debate

The Hawaii site has been subject to years of public debate and legal challenges. Researchers say it will help usher in scientific and economic developments, while opponents maintain it will hurt the environment and desecrate land considered sacred by some Native Hawaiians. Mauna Kea already houses a number of high-powered telescopes at its summit.

“Thirty years of astronomy development has resulted in adverse significant impact to the natural and cultural resources of Mauna Kea,” said Kealoha Pisciotta, president of Mauna Kea Anaina Hou, an indigenous, Native Hawaiian group that works on environmental issues. “Trying to build more would have added to the cumulative impact.”

On Thursday, the Hawaii Senate approved a bill to ban new construction atop Mauna Kea, and included a series of audits and other requirements before the ban could be lifted. But House leaders said they don’t have plans to advance the bill. Democratic House Speaker Scott Saiki told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that the “bill is dead on arrival in the House.”

Also Read: NASA delays launch of next-gen space telescope until 2020
There are also two appeals before the Hawaii Supreme Court. One challenges the sublease and land use permit issued by the Hawaii Board of Land and Natural Resources. The other has been brought by a Native Hawaiian man who says use of the land interferes with his right to exercise cultural practices and is thus entitled to a case hearing.

The telescope project is a collaboration among universities in the U.S. and California, including the University of Hawaii and national science and research institutes of Japan, China, and India.

“It’s a privilege to practice astronomy on Mauna Kea and we’re not satisfied with where we’re at right now,” Dan Meisenzahl, a spokesperson for the University of Hawaii, said in a statement. “We will continue to push ourselves to improve our stewardship of the mountain.”  VOA

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The Very Best Things to do on Vacation in Hawaii

There are many different activities taking place every day in Hawaii, but the above 5 activities are some of the very best

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Hawaii is famous for its exotic beaches. Wikimedia Commons

When you’re planning your vacation in Hawaii you no doubt want to make sure you spend a lot of time in the sun and have a lot of fun. Once you’ve sorted out your rental house in Hawaii, and you’ve decided how long you’re going to stay you will need to start making plans. The good news is that we can give you a helping hand.

Hawaii is full of places to visit. VOA

Below you will find details of some of the very best things to do in Hawaii, helping to make your vacation one to remember:

Enjoy a Spot of Snorkelling

Why not dive into the blue waters and enjoy a spot of snorkelling? The seas in this part of the world are home to some turtles, beautiful fish and some incredible sights. Book a Turtle Canyon Snorkel Cruise, and head off on your tour which comes complete with snorkelling equipment that is suitable for anyone to use. If you’ve never snorkelled before, do not worry, the helpful and friendly instructors will assist you so you can dive into the water with ease.

As part of the cruise, you will be offered a couple of alcoholic drinks and unlimited alcohol-free drinks to enjoy as you make your way to Waikiki and Diamond head on a 16-foot catamaran, where you can take as many photographs as you wish.  Departing from hotels in Waikiki or the Kewalo Basin Harbour, this snorkelling tour should not be missed!

Visit Waikiki Beach

Most people go on vacation to Hawaii so they can enjoy the beautiful beaches and the stunning sunshine.  While you’re visiting this part of the world why not take a trip to Waikiki Beach and relax in the sun or under a palm tree? Listen as the clear blue waters brush up against the shore, and watch as boats, canoes, and divers enjoy their time on and in the water.

Apart from visiting beaches, there are many other things one can do in Hawaii. Wikimedia Commons

 

If you would like to avoid the beach when it’s busy, you may want to think about visiting early in the morning or as the sun is about to go down. Alternatively, you may also want to visit during the cooler months as there are fewer people on the beach then. Whenever you do decide to visit, you can be sure that you’ll have an amazing time on a beach that is known for its beauty and tropical feel.

Go Whale Spotting

We humans are not the only ones who enjoy the waters off the coast of Hawaii, whales love it too, and they can be spotted off the coast of Maui. Why not take the opportunity to hop on board a Maui Whale Watch Cruise and spend two whole hours spotting whales? Not only are you practically guaranteed to spot some of these magnificent mammals, but you will also get the chance to see them via an underwater webcam and a hydrophone, which is a type of listening device that picks up underwater sounds.

Also Read: Taking the Ancient Hawaii Dance form ‘Hula’ to 21st Century Art in US

Hawaii is also famous for its nightlife. Wikimedia Commons

Make sure you take a camera with you so you can get snap-happy when you spot a whale or two. The tour operates from December to May when the whales venture into the waters to breed, which is why you’re almost guaranteed to see them. With many different departure times and setting off from Lahaina, whale spotting will prove to be an unforgettable part of your vacation.

Take a trip to a Coconut Farm

Punakea Palms Coconut Farm is the ideal destination if you want to do something a little different while you’re in Hawaii. Walk around the farm and learn about how it works, how to get into a coconut, and enjoy its bounty. Understand how to cultivate coconuts and learn why they are so important to the local area. Located just outside of Lahaina, the coconut farm also gives you the chance to taste some very fresh coconuts. You will have to book a place on a 2.5-hour tour around the farm, but it is worth it as it’s a lot of fun.

Visit Princeville Botanical Gardens

If you have decided to spend a little time away from the beach and you want to visit somewhere peaceful Princeville Botanical Gardens is the right place for you. Owned and operated by the Robertson family who works hard to create a botanical paradise, the gardens are really beautiful. You will need to make a reservation before you can visit the gardens, but once you get here you’ll enjoy the breathtaking landscape and native Hawaiian plants.

Monsoon, Garden Lovers
Hawaii has some great gardens as well.

While you’re walking around the lush gardens you may notice that honey and fruit are grown in the area, and you’ll get the chance to sample some. Chocolate lovers will also enjoy tasting some locally produced chocolate that tastes divine. Open for tours on Mondays and Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, the Princeville Botanical Gardens need to be seen to be believed.

There are many different activities taking place every day in Hawaii, but the above 5 activities are some of the very best. If you’ve had enough of lounging on the beach for now, why not take a trip to a coconut farm, spot some whales as you cruise on a catamaran, and make your way around some magnificent botanical gardens. Finish off with a spot of snorkelling before you head to Waikiki Beach and relax in the sunshine as you feel the sand in between your toes, and feel a fresh breeze hit you as the sun beats down.