Astronomer: ‘Magic’ nights make Hawaii best telescope site

HONOLULU (AP) — Backers of a proposed giant telescope insist that Hawaii is the best place for their $1.4 billion instrument despite protests by some Native Hawaiians.

Telescope officials say the backup site in Spain’s Canary Islands is comparable to Hawaii’s Mauna Kea and it wouldn’t cost more money to put it there.

But astronomy professor and Thirty Meter Telescope board member Michael Bolte says there are nights on Mauna Kea that produce images impossible to get elsewhere.

Independent experts agree that for certain types of observations, Mauna Kea’s higher altitude and cooler temperatures are better than the Spanish site on the island of La Palma.

But they also say advances in optical technology and new space-based telescopes can level the playing field.

There’s also no significant opposition to the telescope in Spain.

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