Telescopes in Hawaii

I am a former employee of one of the world’s largest submillimeter radio telescopes. I was a telescope systems specialist and worked atop Mauna Kea for 12 years. I am writing as the president of Mauna Kea Anaina Hou, a Hawaiian organization dedicated to the protection, preservation and restoration of Mauna Kea, Hawaii.

We want to thank Scott Laderman for his beautiful, honest and critical column (“Telescope endorsement embarrasses University,” Oct. 8). We, here in Hawaii, have similar problems with our university and the astronomical development of our sacred temple, the mountain Mauna Kea.

Mauna Kea is one of two great mountains located on Hawaii. It is the world’s premiere astronomy site and it hosts the world’s largest and most advanced astronomical facilities.

Mauna Kea also represents many things to the indigenous people of Hawaii. The upper region of Mauna Kea is considered the highest and most sacred temple of native Hawaiians; it is the burial ground of our highest born and most sacred ancestors.

Like the Apache Indians, we have been struggling with national and international astronomy corporations. These corporations pay only $1 per year in lease rent for the use of our land.

They introduce hundreds of thousands of gallons of human waste into the principle aquifer of our island and use hazardous materials such as “elemental mercury.”

Like the Mount Graham situation, the national and international astronomy corporations use the university system to push their developments, all in the name of “education and research.” What the universities are not explaining to the people is that the technology developed on the telescopes is used to attract military and corporate contracts worth millions of dollars.

Even though most of the astronomers are not doing military research, some of them are. Perhaps you can ask the University to publish its contracts, so you too can see what the “astronomy industry” has really turned into.

Kealoha Pisciotta, Hilo, Hawaii