Hawaii News Now Features Subaru Telescope

April 13, 2010

Subaru Telescope was recently featured in Hawaii News Now's coverage of the Merrie Monarch Festival in Hilo. The Merrie Monarch Festival is an annual, week-long cultural festival in Hilo, packed with a variety of events that celebrate the history and traditions of the Hawaiian people, particularly hula. Subaru appreciated the opportunity to assist Howard Dicus, a well-respected local radio (Hawaii Public Radio) and television (HKGMB/KHNL/KFVE-TV Honolulu) commentator, in providing material for his segments on the contribution of astronomy to the Hilo community.

As Subaru's press officer Suzanne Frayser and Hawaiian cultural practitioner Koa Rice approached Mauna Kea's Visitor Information Station (VIS) to meet Howard Dicus and his crew from Hawaii News Now, blue sky began to replace the fog obscuring the mountain. It was a fitting metaphor for the clear, informative interviews about Mauna Kea and Subaru Telescope that followed.

Beginning with an interview of Koa Rice at a Hawaiian shrine near the VIS, Dicus asked about the significance of Mauna Kea, a place sacred to Hawaiians and an extraordinary site for 13 astronomical telescopes. Rice pointed out how Hawaiian traditions of viewing the night skies converge with the practices of contemporary astronomers, because both respect the lessons that celestial objects hold for humanity.

After establishing the broad significance of the mountain, Dicus shifted the filming to the interior of Hale Pohaku, the astronomical support facility, and interviewed Suzanne Frayser about the Subaru Telescope. Frayser not only described some general features of the telescope but also called attention to the Japanese government's support of the observatory and its open use policy.

The final place for an interview took place on the tertiary level of the observatory itself, where summit telescope technician Alan Iwasaki described the operation of the telescope, including how the day crews configure the telescope with one of its 13 instruments for observations.

The timing for filming the exterior and interior of the dome was ideal, since the work of the day crew involved opening the shutters and removing the mirror's cover. The videographer captured beautiful shots of the telescope as it tilted; the mirror; one of the instruments; and the movement of the dome. These videos provided a fitting backdrop for the commentary in Frayser's and Iwasaki's interviews, which were broadcast on April 15th. With a view of the enclosure behind him, Dicus concluded his time at the observatory by briefly mentioning a couple of Subaru's scientific discoveries. But his comments didn't end there. He informally described the visit on his blog, where he clarified even more information about Subaru.

KFVE-TV's inclusion of segments on Subaru and astronomy as part of its coverage of the Merrie Monarch Festival demonstrates the positive role that observatories play in Hawaii's contemporary culture. Dicus's blog as well as the two TV news segments, complete with video of the telescope and interviews with Subaru staff, draw attention to Subaru's importance to astronomy and its participation in the life of the local community.

To view the interviews, click on Part 1 or Part 2 or look for "Subaru Observatory" (even though the name of our organization is "Subaru Telescope")
To read Dicus's blog, look for "Seeing Stars on Mauna Kea" and other articles in this website (or in the archive April 2010)

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