A Bit Wetter Than Usual

November 22, 2000

November began with a reminder of who really controls Hawaii. Parts of the Big Island saw all-time record rainfall on the night of November 1st. The town of Hilo, home to Subaru Telescope's base facility received 28 inches of rain in just 24 hours! Dry streambeds quickly became powerful rivers and many roads in the area were actually cut by the raging waters. Although the base facility was spared from any serious water damage, multiple losses of electricity due to lightning strikes in the area left Subaru's UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) damaged and our computer system off-line for several days.

Komohana Street cut by flash flooding, near the Subaru Telescope base facility in Hilo.

We're happy to report that no permanent damage resulted from the storm here at Subaru Telescope and we are back to business. November is shaping up to be another busy month. For the first time, all seven of Subaru's first-phase instruments, as well as its AO unit were on the summit of Mauna Kea. Ideally, this should remain the situation for years to come, until the next generation instruments take their place. But realistically, we can expect some of the instruments the need of a few more trips back down to Hilo before they are all running optimally.

Everything is on track for the start of Open Use in December using IRCS and Suprime-Cam. Note that three other instruments will also be in use this December (COMICS, OHS and FOCAS). Our plan is to interleave research time with engineering time during the first year of Open Use so that the international astronomy community can gain access to the telescope as quickly as possible while we continue to improve the already very high performance of the telescope. We've now announced our second call for proposals for Semester S01A running from April through July 2001, offering the use of IRCS, OHS/CISCO, HDS and FOCAS. The deadline for Proposals is November 27 (5pm JST).

On November 4th, Dr. Ian Shelton of Subaru Telescope provided a free public lecture on the slopes of Mauna Kea at Onizuka (*) Center for International Astronomy Visitor Information Station (OVIS), right next door to the dormitory where astronomers working at the summit spend the day sleeping and preparing for their next night of observing. The lecture is part of a regular monthly series of talks provided by the Observatories of Mauna Kea to share with the local community the latest discoveries and details of their operations. In December, the Director Hiroyasu Ando of Subaru Telescope will give an afternoon talk in Hilo (weather permitting!) about how the dream of a Japanese national large telescope became reality. The talk will include a new film featuring the children of Subaru staff adjusting to life in Hawaii.

Subaru Telescope is committed to sharing its legacy with anyone who has an interest in astronomy.

* Ellison S. Onizuka, born in Big Island of Hawaii, was one of the astronauts who perished in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster on January 28, 1986.

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