1st telescope removed from controversial astronomy hub on Hawaiian volcano

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For the first time, a telescope on the Hawaiian volcano Maunakea has been fully decommissioned — it was dismantled, removed, and its site was restored to previous conditions. The effort comes under an agreement between the University of Hawaii and the Maunakea Stewardship and Oversight Authority, designed to smooth tensions over the construction of a new telescope on the mountain: The Thirty Meter Telescope.

Since the 1960s, 13 telescopes have been built on Maunakea, a place that’s sacred to the indigenous people of the Hawaiian islands because it is where the earth meets the sky. As such, each new Maunakea observatory has been met with dismay by protestors who believe the building of new telescopes on this volcanic mountain is sacrilegious. The astronomical community, however, has struggled to find a balance between their scientific research plans and the needs of indigenous Hawaiian culture. That’s because Maunakea offers uniquely pristine skywatching conditions. Things reached a head with protests against the planned Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), which, if constructed, would be the second largest telescope in the world — and the largest on Maunakea.

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