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TMT officials find alternate locale in Spain

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The Gran Telescopio Canarias, one of the the world’s largest telescopes, is viewed at the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos on the Canary Island of La Palma, Spain. The nonprofit organization that wants to build a giant telescope atop Hawaii’s Mauna Kea has selected this alternate site in case it cannot be built on land many Native Hawaiians consider sacred.

The nonprofit organization that wants to build a giant telescope atop Mauna Kea has selected another site in case it can’t be built on land many Native Hawaiians consider sacred.

A mountain in the Canary Islands, Spain, is the primary alternative to Hawaii, Thirty Meter Telescope officials announced Monday.

The TMT International Observatory Board of Governors met last week to discuss the project’s progress in Hawaii and identified Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos on La Palma island “after careful deliberation,” board chairman Henry Yang said in a statement.

Mauna Kea is still the preferred location, Yang said, adding that telescope officials will forge ahead in efforts to obtain a permit to build it on conservation land.

The project is stalled amid intense protests by Native Hawaiians and others who cite the sacredness of the land and other issues for their opposition. The state Supreme Court last year invalidated the project’s permit, ruling that the state Land Board’s approval process was flawed. The ruling sent the matter back for a new contested-case hearing.

The hearings have been moving slowly since they started Oct. 20 after various delays.

“I’m glad they’re looking at alternative sites,” Kealoha Pisciotta, one of the leaders challenging the telescope, said during a break in the hearings. “I have to say if they do go with the alternative site, I hope they don’t do there what they’re doing to Native Hawaiians and the people of Hawaii.”

Telescope officials earlier this year decided to start looking at other sites for the $1.4 billion project, considering high mountains in Chile, India, China and Mexico.

Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos is on the edge of the Caldera de Taburiente National Park, about 7,800 feet above sea level.

Telescope officials chose Mauna Kea over Chile’s Cerro Armazones mountain in 2009. Astronomers prefer Mauna Kea because its nearly 14,000-foot summit is well above the clouds, and it provides a clear view of the sky for 300 days a year.

23 responses to “TMT officials find alternate locale in Spain”

  1. nomu says:

    Mauna Kea is no more sacred than the Hawaiian land that all the protestor’s own houses are built on. There is no history of any religious practices on Mauna Kea.

    • laupahoeboy says:

      I don’t know about Mauna Kea having no religious sites. But I do believe that all nature was considered sacred by Native Hawaiians. While this is not explicit in the oral traditions now written down, an analysis of these clearly shows this. One can start by reading big Fornander, then Kamakau, then Malo, then Kepelino, then Kalakaua. Then one can go to Kelly, Handy and Pukui, Holt, Kanahele, Kane, Johnson, Charlot, then the people from Hawaiian Studies at UH.

      • rayhawaii says:

        Then why do Hawaiians trash everywhere they step or drive by? Just last night a Hawaiian couple get out of their car to take kids TorT and toss their trash right on the sidewalk. No aloha some Hawaiians.

  2. keonimay says:

    Leaving Hawaii, to build in Europe, would be a loss for Hawai’i.

    If the deactivated telescope sites, were torn down, then there would be a reasonable compromise.

    Hawai’i can always use, financial income.

  3. hukihei says:

    There are over 200 shrines within the Mauna Kea Astronomy Precinct on Mauna Kea on the historic site inventory. It has countless burials. Mauna Kea has been described by historians and anthropologists as a place of pilgrimage. It is the tallest mountain in the world and considered by many Polynesians as the piko of the universe. There are 11 observatories and 22 buildings at the summit of the Mauna. Not a single observatory has ever been decommissioned and removed since 1968, despite the fact that some are no longer in use. There is no reserve for the removal of this industrial waste and no obligation on the part of many observatories on the Mauna to pay to remove and restore. Wake up Hawaii.

    • seaborn says:

      There are thousands and thousands of acres atop that barren wasteland of a mountaintop, which is unsuitable for agricultural or residential use. It’s location and isolation from lights make it an ideal location for the telescope, and it will only take up a measly 5 acres.
      The protesters will still have thousands and thousands of other acres to pretend to believe there are ghostlings parading around up there.
      The benefits of reality for the entire Earth far outweigh the worthlessness of fantasy for the minor protesters, in building the telescope.

    • nomu says:

      The protestor’s own homes are probably closer to a burial site than the telescopes on Manua Kea. And when you say shrines, you are probably talking about rocks arranged in a pile.

    • wiliki says:

      11 observatories are a small number. One more observatory is not such a problem. The observatory will not even be seen at lower elevations. This is a non-problem.

      And yes observatorys can be recycled if they can be updated. We are short of research funds now, but in better economic conditions they would be needed.

    • royrgal says:

      The Caltech Submillimeter Observatory is already slated for decommissioning, and going through the required process to do so in an appropriate manner. There is only one non-woking telescope – Hokukea – the smallest one, and it has been identified for decommissioning prior to TMT completion. Even one of the most productive telescopes. UKIRT, has also been identified for decommissioning on the same timeline. And ALL of the telescopes are required to fund their own removal. The funds are already allocated for CSO and UKIRT; the TMT budget also includes the necessary funding. Please read the Comprehensive Management Plan.

  4. sjean says:

    Sacred? How about Fakred? You know, fake plus sacred? Just like so many part-time Hawaiians, protesting government while holding out an empty hand to be filled.

  5. Torchwood says:

    Until the state demonstrates proper stewardship of Mauna Kea, including the removal of old observatories, nothing new should be built. Until the state pays Hawaiians fair compensation for the use of the land nothing new should be built. We will lose TMT, but there will always be another better telescope to be built.

  6. bleedgreen says:

    Just glad the TMT has found a suitable site. Wish they start construction right away, as I am excited to learn of the exciting discoveries of the universe the TMT will produce. Here’s a short description of the Canary Islands: “The archipelago includes seven major islands, all remnants of very steep, extinct volcanoes, and weather conditions here are considered perfect, with some of the best beaches on the planet…The site in the Atlantic archipelago is home to the third tallest volcano in the world, Mount Teide, a volcano in the Canary Islands, Spain. Its 3,718-metre (12,198 ft) summit is the highest point in Spain … If measured from its base on the ocean floor, it is at 7,500 m (24,600 ft) the third highest volcano on a volcanic ocean island in the world after Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa in Hawaii” The Canary Islands sounds good to me.

  7. Cellodad says:

    One hopes that the Canaries aren’t sacred to ETA or Catalonian separatists.

  8. st1d says:

    the tyranny of ignorance and greed embraced by princess pupule’s hawhiner extortionists can not be allowed to bully science and free thinking out of hawaii.

    they advocate a return to the stone ages. yet, they have no problem using their cell phones to text each other in their suvs while adorned with their wonder woman bracelets.

  9. entrkn says:

    Enough! Build TMT NOW on the summit of Mauna Kea right on top of any scurrilous protesters that get in the way!

  10. wiliki says:

    a sad day… perhaps the legislature should act in a special session after the election?

  11. Numilalocal says:

    And so the mountaintop on La Palma is any less sacred to those people?

  12. HawaiiMongoose says:

    If the TMT is moved to the Canary Islands it will be a loss for all of mankind. How shameful it would be to build the most powerful telescope in history and not place it in the best location for astronomy in the world. But the greater tragedy would be that so many of us in Hawaii are willing to let our future be shaped by the ignorance of so few. It would be yet another sign that we have lost our perspective on what is important, that we are moving backwards instead of forwards, that our leaders lack vision and decisiveness, and that we as the stewards of these Islands lack the willpower to do anything about it.

    • inverse says:

      If UH was building a nuclear reactor, ballistic missile launcher or laser defensive/offensive weapon on the top of Mauna Kea would agree with the protestors but an innocuous telescope that help to understand the universe and earth itself has a very low profile and does not emit radiation, greenhouse gases or any toxic substance is bad?? How can any of these protestors claim denial of practicing their religion on Mauna Kea when King Kamehameha made Mauna Kea kapu and ONLY himself, his family or those he gave special permission were ever allowed to go up the mountain to perform religious ceremonies which often included human sacrifice. Any one else trying to go up Mauna Kea during Kamehameha’s time would be put to death. Just do not see any justifiable claim for this group to claim any ownership or that they are being denied their ability to practice whatever their religion on Mauna Kea. They have created their own religion and ritual practice and that is okay but cannot they claim it was their ancient right as a native Hawaiian because they had NO religious freedoms or rights on Mauna Kea.

  13. iwanaknow says:

    Time for us to roll over and give up……the telescope will be build some other place……mark my words.

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