On top of Hawaii’s Mauna Kea Volcano sits the site for a $1.4 billion telescope project that has finally gotten the go ahead to resume construction. This telescope will have 492 mirror segments integrated into a single light gathering surface about 98 feet, or 30 meters, wide. This project is said to be completed in 2020 if all goes well with the BLNR and their permits.

The BLNR or Board of Land and Natural Resources, announced in September of last year that they have decided to approve the construction permit for the thirty meter telescope.

This telescope broke ground in October of 2014 but the project has been in construction limbo for several years now. Protesters have voiced their concerns about the telescope project’s cultural and environmental impact. Hawaiians regard the volcano peaks throughout the island chain as sacred land so of course they would want it to be properly preserved.

In December of 2015 the Hawaiian Supreme Court pulled the original construction permit for the telescope project indefinitely. The Supreme Court claimed that the BLNR granted it without properly addressing the petition filed by opposition groups.

In December of 2016 a judge with Hawaii’s Third Circuit Court made the ruling that a sublease agreement between the telescope project and the University of Hawaii was invalid because the BLNR approved it without first holding a “contested case hearing.”

As the construction for this project moves forward the BLNR doesn’t guarantee smooth sailing. It didn’t take long for the opponents of the decision to begin construction again to start protesting. If building on Mauna Kea becomes a bigger problem, the telescope could be moved to it’s backup location, The Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos on La Palma, in the Canary Islands.

The Mauna Kea telescope is one of three megascopes scheduled to be completed in the 2020’s. The others are the Giant Magellan Telescope and the European Extremely Large Telescope. Both telescopes are being built in the Chilean Andes.


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