Mauna Kea Earthquake Update

The twin 10-meter Keck Obervatory telescopes appear to have survived the 6.6-magnitude earthquake with only the slightest bit of damage.
Sunday's 6.6-magnitude earthquake off the west coast of the Big Island of Hawaii was the largest seismic event to hit the Aloha State in two decades. Despite substantial damage, particularly on the Kona coast, there are no reports of fatalities from the early-morning temblor. In other good news, it appears that the telescopes atop Mauna Kea survived relatively unscathed.

Keck Observatory announced that both 10-meter primary mirrors appear undamaged. However, the telescopes' guidance systems were impacted. Both telescopes are offline today, but Keck I is expected to resume normal operations as early as Wednesday night; Keck II may take longer to be readjusted.

Gemini Observatory's 8-meter telescope also seems to have survived well. According to the observatory's public information outreach manager Peter Michaud, our "first impression is that Gemini fared well." He goes on to express some concern about some of the behemoth telescope's azimuth bearing, but earthquake restraints designed for such an event were in place and functional when the shaking occurred. "It is impossible to predict when we will return to normal operation," according to the observatory's website. "We estimate that continuing inspection, test, checks and science verifications will take several days, even if no major stumbling block occurs."

Engineers working with the 8-meter Subaru Observatory telescope are assessing their facility as well.

All comments must follow the Sky & Telescope Terms of Use and will be moderated prior to posting. Please be civil in your comments. Sky & Telescope reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter’s username, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

COMMENT