すばる望遠鏡☆山頂編 / Subaru Telescope☆The Summit



Finally, the day has come! I was waiting and waiting and waiting for today for soooooo long. It was the day to visit the Subaru telescope on the 4200m Mauna Kea summit! (click here to read the blog entry "Subaru Telescope☆Base facility")



Well, (fortunately) it wasn't mountain climbing. Twenty of us in heavy duty vans hit the road. The roads were paved, but very hilly and curvy until the Onizuka visiting center at the 2800 meter or 9300 foot level. It is very, very important to stay here for at least half an hour to get our body ready for the high altitude environment (low air pressure, lack of oxygen...).



The rest were non-paved super rough roads that could easily have made us sick. But the high altitude made me so sleepy that I didn't feel sick at all! Thirty minutes or so from the Onizuka center, we got on paved roads again. That was the sign for "Almost there!”


Yay! Here we are!

[caption id="attachment_18627" align="aligncenter" width="400"] 元未来館科学コミュニケーターの渡辺真由子さん(左)と!Subaru telescope & science communicators, Mayuko Watanabe (left) and me![/caption]



The huge Subaru telescope was “standing so proudly” and looked to me like something super special. We had a tour with each of us wearing yellow helmets. (I love the cute Subaru logo!) I was amazed that it was real cold inside the enclosure. It was kept in 0℃ for all the equipment and devices to work properly at night, the time of observations. We had to make sure that nobody was missing as we moved to different sections. This was for our safety. The high altitude environment lowers our ability to focus and make decisions, meaning that it is easy to get lost. I didn’t really notice, though….


Everything was so huge and sophisticated. It was easy to understand that all these devices and equipment support the cutting-edge science. But at the same time, I felt so much love and devotion from the people around the Subaru telescope. For the clear pictures, I recommend the Subaru telescope homepage and Dr. Daigo Tomono’s link. I could see researchers' strong wish for a clear night sky from lots of Teru-teru Bozu, a charm for good weather.


Just before sunset, the summit was crowded with many travelers. Many of them were like professional photographers! I was not…, so I just looked up the sky. Such a peaceful moment. The clouds looked like galaxies over the Subaru telescope.


It is so true that the Subaru telescope contributes to revealing the mysteries of the universe and of life in space. But for the local people, Mauna Kea is a holy mountain. It is like Mt. Fuji for Japanese people. For the local people, the Subaru telescope and other telescopes might be like aliens’ buildings, and their feelings touched my heart. At the same time, I realized that I wouldn’t have known anything about Mauna Kea or wouldn’t have seen the night sky full of stars if these telescopes did not exist here. I got mixed feelings.



The 3-day workshop taught me a lot about the Subaru telescope. Now, I got lots of new information and got to meet my Subaru buddies that can be my wonderful resources! Can’t wait to share what I learned with you! Looking forward to seeing you at Miraikan.