Dedication of Institute for Astronomy Hilo Facility

University of Hawaiʻi
Posted: Feb 22, 2001

A dedication ceremony will take place at 11:00 a.m. on Friday February23 for the University of Hawaii's Institute for Astronomy (IfA) Facilityat the University of Hawaii at Hilo Research and Technology Park. The Hilobranch of the IfA is a state-of-the-art facility that supports the Institute'stelescope operations on Mauna Kea and provides long-awaited expansion spacefor its research, technology development, instrumentation, teaching, andoutreach programs. The $11 million 35,000 square-foot split-level buildingwas designed by Oda/McCarty Architects, Ltd., of Hilo and was built by HawaiianDredging Construction Company.

The Institute for Astronomy in Hilo will be a focal point for researchand development in astronomical instrumentation, especially in large-formatfocal plane array development. The new facility will cooperate with UHHilo and other observatory facilities in developing the scientific and technologybase in Hilo. It will directly support the University of Hawaii's activitieson Mauna Kea, including the operation of the University's own telescopes,and the NASA Infrared Telescope, which the University operates under contractto NASA.

The IfA Hilo Facility is equipped with shops and laboratories for thedevelopment and maintenance of scientific instruments and telescopes. Theoffice space accommodates astronomers, engineers, technicians, administrativeand management staff, students and academic visitors. High-bandwith fiber-opticsdata and video links connect the Hilo building to IfA facilities on Oahuand Maui, telescopes on Mauna Kea, and to other astronomical institutesaround the world.

The first occupants of the building include 15 Institute employees whowere previously stationed at various locations in Hilo, five who have transferredfrom the Institute's facility in Manoa, seven new hires, and two visitingastronomers. The building is designed to accommodate about 70 employees. It is expected that this major decentralization and expansion of the Institute'sactivities will take several years. In addition to accommodating IfA personneland programs, the new facility also provides space for the Hilo operationsof the Research Corporation of the University of Hawaii, for UH Hilo astronomers,and for other UH Hilo programs, including the Mauna Kea Astronomy EducationCenter and the College of Hawaii Language. Within the next few weeks, thenewly created Office of Mauna Kea Management will relocate to the facility. All occupants will share the common resources, such as the auditorium andmeeting rooms.

This new facility also promotes much closer collaboration between theastronomy programs of the Institute and those at UH Hilo, in particular,the University's first Bachelor of Science in Astronomy program, now offeredby UH Hilo.

The Institute for Astronomy joins the four astronomy facilities alreadylocated in the UH Hilo Research & Technology Park-the Joint AstronomyCentre, the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory, the Gemini 8-Meter Telescopes,and the Subaru Telescope. These five facilities employ approximately 270people and serve the astronomy communities in nine countries-the UnitedStates, the United Kingdom, Canada, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile,the Netherlands, and Japan. And, when the Submillimeter Array base facilityarrives in about two years' time, astronomers from Taiwan will join thegroup. The Institute will also be nearer to the facilities which are basedin Waimea-the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, the W. M. Keck Observatoryand the Very Long Baseline Array.

Klaus Hodapp (Interim Associate Director, IfA Hilo Facility) will presideover the dedication program. Kalena P. Silva (Professor, Hawaiian Studies,UH Hilo) will give a mele kahea (welcome chant), and Father ScottBush (Pastor, St. Joseph Church, Hilo) will give the blessing. Scheduledparticipants in the dedication program include Harry Kim (Mayor of HawaiiCounty), Joseph Blanco (Executive Assistant to the Governor for EconomicDevelopment & Special Advisor for Technology Development) who will representGovernor Benjamin Cayetano, UH Regent Dr. Billy Bergin, UH President KennethMortimer, Rachel Fordyce (Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, UH Hilo)who will represent Chancellor Rose Tseng, and IfA Director Rolf Kudritzki. Members of the Hawaii County Council, Hawaii State Legislature, and representativesof State and County governments are also expected to attend

The Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii conducts researchinto galaxies, cosmology, stars, planets, and the Sun. Its faculty andstaff are also involved in astronomy education, and in the development andmanagement of the observatories on Haleakala and Mauna Kea. Refer to <> formore information.

NOTE: A color RGB file with photographs of the facility is availableat:

Photo Credit: Darryl Watanabe, NASA Infrared Telescope Facility, UHInstitute for Astronomy.