Were the telescopes built without permits?

This is another fairly common myth about the existing telescopes on Mauna Kea, that most of the telescopes were built without permits or issued “after-the-fact” permits after construction.

UH88 under the Milky Way
The UH88 telescope under the stars of the Milky Way

This is another myth built on a kernel of truth, the two earliest of the remaining thirteen telescopes were built without proper conservation district use permits in place. What is now Hoku Kea was built by the Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratories and given to the university a couple years later. The UH88 was built by the University of Hawaii in 1968.

As this was the State of Hawaii building on state land, apparently things were a bit lax. In retrospect this is no surprise, the state government was scarcely a decade old at this point and many of the administrative rules and regulations we now take for granted were still being written and implemented.

This is where the myth comes in, as somehow the other telescopes are accused of the same issue. The claim often made is that “most of these structures were un-permitted”. This is often claimed as part of the evidence for mismanagement by the university.

This is incorrect… All of the remaining telescopes were built with proper permits in place. The key permits are the Conservation District Use Permits or CDUP’s that allow the use of state land on the summit of Mauna Kea. Permit numbers and dates are listed in the table below…

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Give Me Enough Rope

Longtime readers will know that our household is ruled by cats. This means that some household chores have higher priority than others. One of the odd chores that has to be done every few years is re-wrapping the scratching pole with rope.

Re-wrapping the cat scratching post with new rope
Re-wrapping the cat scratching post with new rope

Yes, the cats use the pole, usually more than they use other soft surfaces around the house. The result is a shredded mess of sisal fiber hanging from the pole. Eventually it gets bad enough I just cut it away and re-wrap the pole in rope.

Conveniently a 50′ package of 1/2″ rope from the local hardware store neatly does the job. Just an hour spent cutting the old rope away, then wrapping the pole neatly with a drop of glue to secure the end down inside the tube… Done, with happy cats busily clawing away at the fresh rope.

How long will it last?

Venus at Superior Conjunction

Crescent Venus
Venus approaching inferior conjunction, 24Dec2013

Today Venus is passing through superior conjunction, passing behind the Sun as seen from our earthbound point of view.

Venus will reappear in the sunset in mid-September, a brilliant star like object low on the horizon, just above the glow of sunset.

When Venus does reappear we can expect a few UFO reports by people unfamiliar with the normal workings of our skies. In late 2018, when it last emerged in the dawn we had a few such reports here on the island, including a very nice video and folks who could not accept the fact that the “strange light” was simply a bright planet.

Venus will spend the remainder of 2019 in the evening sky, reaching maximum elongation on March 24th, 2020.

Mercury at Maximum Elongation

Mercury, Venus and Jupiter
An evening conjunction of Mercury, Venus and Jupiter on 30 May, 2013

Today Mercury is passing through maximum elongation, the furthest it will rise above the rising Sun in the dawn sky. After today the planet will slide back into the Sun’s glare headed for superior conjunction on September 3rd.

This is a modest apparition, with the planet only 19° from the Sun.

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