About Hōkū Ke‘a

University of Hawai'i at Hilo - Hōkū Ke‘a Observatory

The Hōkū Ke‘a Observatory is a professional astronomical observatory owned and operated by the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Hawai'i at Hilo. The department offers a BS in astronomy and a BA in physics. The observatory is essentially used for laboratory courses, research and technical projects, as well as for outreach activities. Hōkū Ke‘a is also used by the UH Manoa undergraduate program in astronomy. Through local community associations, Hōkū Ke‘a will also be offering opportunities for local kids to conduct astronomical observations. The observatory is composed of a modern 0.7 meter telescope and a suite of instruments for imaging and spectroscopy, all operated in a 18-foot AstroHaven dome.

The observatory is currently in development and is expected to become operational in 2017, when a permanent site can be found.

Hōkū Ke‘a: Mission

The Hōkū Ke‘a Observatory was implemented with some specific research and educational goals in mind. These goals, described by the following six points, represent the overall vision of the UH Hilo Department of Physics and Astronomy for its Hōkū Ke‘a Observatory:
  • Hōkū Ke‘a is a professional astronomical facility used to conduct scientific research projects.
  • Hōkū Ke‘a is a professional astronomical facility used for training students on modern observational techniques applied in scientific research.
  • Hōkū Ke‘a is a professional astronomical facility used for training students on modern telescope operations.
  • Hōkū Ke‘a is a professional astronomical facility used for modest developments in instrumentation and technical projects.
  • Hōkū Ke‘a is a professional astronomical facility used for outreach activities and for training students in communicating science with the general public.
  • Hōkū Ke‘a is an astronomical facility acting as a bridge between professional astronomy activities on the Big Island and the local communities.

Hōkū Ke‘a Observatory: People


Dr.  R. Pierre Martin, Director
John Coney, Observatory Support
Callie Crowder, NASA Space Grant trainee