here to see Dr. Fred Chaffee discuss this mysterious dark
energy (requires Quicktime player).
Read the full story, W. M. Keck Observatory:
Visionary Eyes on the Universe.
In July 2005 the Observatory established an Advancement Office
to help acquire sufficient philanthropic resources to fulfill
our ambitious scientific goals. Our primary objectives are to
communicate the exemplary achievements of this world-class Observatory
and to secure at least $5 million annually in external funding
|Photo: Keck I telescope stands watch over
Observatory Advancement staff Debbie Goodwin and Joan
Campbell. Photo courtesy of Val Kim.
As we approach our first anniversary on July 1, 2006, we are
encouraged by our initial accomplishments and very grateful
for the support of our donors, the Keck Observatory Board and
professional staff. In our first ten months, we received over
$5 million from 37 individual benefactors, businesses and foundations
- meeting and exceeding our first-year goals!
Click here to read more.
|In order to fully appreciate Keck
Observatory's role at the forefront of scientific innovation,
it's time for some astronomical acronyms!
Adaptive Optics (AO) is a system of instruments that
take the twinkle out of stars. Natural turbulence in the Earth's
atmosphere distorts telescopic images of astronomical objects.
The AO system helps to reverse the blurring effects of the atmosphere.
|Photo: First light for the Keck II laser
guide star in 2003. The laser shines deep into the Earth's
atmosphere, causing a layer of sodium atoms to glow. The
resulting "virtual star" enables astronomers to study
almost any object in space with Adaptive Optics. Photo
courtesy of John McDonald, Canada-France-Hawai'i Telescope
Laser Guide Star (LGS) is a laser which is used to excite
a layer of sodium atoms in the upper atmosphere -- at an altitude
of 95 kilometers (60 miles) high. The sodium atoms then re-radiate
the laser light to create an artificial bright star, or an LGS.
The laser can be pointed anywhere in the sky and can be directed
very close to the object astronomers wish to observe. The LGS
is used as part of an AO system to reduce image blurring of
the objects they are studying.
Early in the 1990's astronomers at Keck Observatory realized
that there were not enough naturally occurring bright stars
in the sky to enable them to use AO to look wherever they wished.
Plans to create an artificial LGS at Keck Observatory, by projecting
a sodium beam deep into the Earth's atmosphere, began in the
mid-1990s. The U.S. Air Force had been using a similar technique
for two decades, and Keck scientists adapted the technology
developed by the military to create a working LGS/AO system.
The LGS can be directed anywhere in the sky that astronomers
want, and the AO system allows astronomers to obtain much more
detailed images than were previously possible. Keck's LGS/AO
cutting-edge technology was a breakthrough for ground-base observatories
-- allowing them to dramatically reduce atmospheric distortion
of the objects being observed. This new technology has enabled
Keck astronomers to detect a massive black hole at the center
of our own galaxy and to observe radiation being emitted by
material falling into this black hole.
The Observatory plans to install a LGS/AO system on the Keck
I telescope in the next few years, in addition to the existing
LGS/AO system on Keck II.
Learn why astronomers are standing in
line to use Keck's LGS/AO system, as explained by Keck Astronomer
Did you know that the Directors of the various observatories
on Mauna Kea are meeting regularly to plan future collaborations?
The fact is that new astronomical facilities can cost hundreds
of millions of dollars to construct. Creative collaborations
allow the Mauna Kea observatories to leverage their individual
capital investments in new and unique ways, and to advance science
with very little impact on the landscape. Certain scientific
questions depend upon such collaborations among the great observatories
on Mauna Kea. For example, studying the nucleus of a distant
galaxy close to its central black hole is something that can
be done in no other way.
|Photo: Adaptive Optics specialist Bob Fugate
seated at the table with the directors of the Mauna Kea
observatories to envision future telescope collaborations
on the summit. Seated from left to right: Dr. Doug Simons,
Gemini Observatory Incoming Director; Dr. Fred Chaffee,
W. M. Keck Observatory Director; Hilton Lewis, W. M. Keck
Observatory Deputy Director; Bob Fugate, Visiting Adaptive
Optics Consultant; Dr. Christian Veillet, Canada-France-Hawai'i
Telescope Executive Director; Dr. Masahiko Hayashi, Subaru
Telescope Director; and Dr. Jean-Rene Roy, Gemini Observatory
Acting Director. Photo courtesy of Bob Fugate.
The current generation of observatory Directors recognizes the
importance of a regular exchange of information amongst their
observatories. The Directors are also engaged in more formal
collaborations like the OHANA Project. OHANA was the brainchild
of Jean Mariotti, one of the most visionary interferometrists
in the world. (Interferometry combines light from two or
more telescopes to obtain measurements with higher resolution
than could be obtained with one telescope individually. When
spread out over a wide area, astronomical interferometer arrays
can together produce a picture with resolution similar or equivalent
to a single telescope with the diameter of the combined spread
of telescopes.) Because of France's partnership in Canada-France-Hawai'i
Telescope, Mariotti and his colleagues at l'Observatoire de
Paris recognized that Mauna Kea was an ideal place to build
the largest optical/infrared interferometer ever conceived --
by interconnecting the telescopes that exist here. The Mauna
Kea interferometric array will allow data from all of the participating
telescopes to be combined, to produce complementary results
that can enhance our understanding of specific scientific phenomena.
Read an interview with the Keck Observatory
Director about the OHANA Project.
| "What is beyond the universe?
What is out there, what is beyond my reach? We are so caught
up in the world we need to look beyond into the infinite nothing."
- First verse of Beyond, an original song composed and performed
by young artist Lindsey D. Appleton. Read
the rest of the Beyond lyrics.
In Hawaiian, hoku means star. Stars hold a great deal
of significance to Pacific Island peoples, including the Hawaiians.
Traditional Polynesian navigators relied upon celestial, non-instrumental
navigation to travel thousands of mile across the open ocean
among remote Pacific islands. Keck Observatory continues this
tradition of reverence for the stars from its home on Hawai'i
Island. The Hoku Project was sponsored by Keck Observatory and
by the Kahilu Theatre Foundation to celebrate the importance
of astronomy to our Island community and to engage our youth
in the spirit and the fruits of this celebration.
|Photo: Airborne dancers perform "Nebulae
and the Protostars," choreographed by Hoku Project Coordinator,
Nancy Candea. Photo courtesy of Sarah Anderson.
The Hoku Project Infinite Journey Dance Concert was the culmination
of a series of events, including: a public lecture, a family
Astro Day, cultural presentations, and stargazing at the Onizuka
Visitor Center at the 9,000-foot elevation on Mauna Kea. The
Hoku Concert raised a total of $5,250 to benefit the Hoku Scholarship
fund for Hawai'i students interested in pursuing careers in
astronomy, physics, mathematics, engineering, technology, or
computer sciences. For more information on how to contribute
to the fund or how to apply for a scholarship, please contact
the Hawai'i Community Foundation at 808.885.2174.
Read more about the ripple effects
of this project.
Download brief excerpts from the "Celestial
Sequence: Stars to Supernovae" (8.7 MB) or "fan" dance,
and from Jason Gamer's musical interlude, "Vastness
of the Cosmos" (10.3 MB) - set against a backdrop of stunning
astronomical images selected by Keck Support Astronomer Randy
Campbell. Video clips courtesy of Terry Warner of Duck Pond
The first-ever Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) competition was
held on Hawai'i Island this spring. Several enthusiastic Keck
Observatory scientists and engineers volunteered to serve as
the judges for this event. The Big Island ROV Regional (BIRR)
was sponsored by the Marine Advanced Technology Education Center
(MATE) and was open to Island middle and high schools. Eight
teams from eight Island Schools competed, maneuvering their
custom ROVs in underwater missions at the Kona Aquatic Center.
Roughly 60 students participated on competition day, but many
more participated at the school level.
|Photo: Two Konawaena team members, Joel
Furuto (left) and Brandon Kunitake (right), prepare "Scuby
Dude" to complete its underwater mission at the recent
Big Island Regional ROV competition.
Teams consistently said they enjoyed working together, resolving
differences, getting the job finished, and seeing the end product
run. The winning team from Konawaena High School overcame the
loss of their team leader at a late stage -- yet managed to
produce a very interesting technical solution. They were the
only team who managed to complete the three assigned underwater
tasks. On June 23, the Konawaena team will compete at the MATE
national competition at the Johnson Space Center Houston, Texas.
Konawaena students will compete against teams from around the
world as they attempt to steer "Scuby Dude," their ROV, on an
underwater mission at NASA's Neutral Buoyancy Lab. Good luck
to their Coach, Craig Fuller, and to all the Konawaena team
The Keck judges are bubbling with enthusiasm about this year's
ROV competition. Read more here.