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First Haleakala Users Meeting

The first-ever Haleakala Users Group (HUG) Meeting took place on Maui on January 30. The meeting brought together about 25 directors and key people from the major observatories on Haleakala, as well as from the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope (ATST), which may be built there. The group included representatives of the Air Force facilities, the Las Cumbres Global Network (which now owns and operates the Faulkes Telescope), the University of Tokyo (Multicolor Active Galactic Nuclei Monitoring, or MAGNUM), the new NASA laser ranging experiment (TLRS4), the National Solar Observatory (ATST), and the IfA (Mees, SOLARC, and Pan-STARRS). The meeting also included representatives from the Haleakala National Park Service, amateur astronomy groups on Maui, and the Maui High Performance Computing Center weather-modeling group.

Jeff Kuhn gives HUG participants a tour of the ATRC. Photo by Rob Ratkowski, HAA Maui.

During the morning, I took the group on a tour of the new IfA Maui building in Kula, the Advanced Technology Research Center (ATRC), which is still under construction. The new laboratory space and offices will be shared with some of the other Haleakala users. Following the tour, Wayne Rosing, director of the Las Cumbres Observatory, treated the group to lunch in Kihei.

During the afternoon, HUG convened for its more formal meeting at the Maui Economic Development Board's new building in the Maui Technology Park in Kihei. After an introduction by IfA Director Rolf Kudritzki, a representative from each observatory explained its role and mission. The group discussed common future goals for the summit, including radio frequency and light pollution mitigation, summit access issues, data bandwidth, and maintaining good relations with the National Park Service. The meeting concluded with a resolution to use Web technologies to improve communication among the observatories and to begin a series of joint experiments that may improve our ability to understand and predict the often-excellent seeing conditions on Haleakala.

The HUG meeting. Photo by Rob Ratkowski, HAA Maui.

On the following morning, many members of the group met on the cold and windy Haleakala summit to dedicate the TLRS4. Dane Maxwell blessed the TLRS4 system, and NASA's David Carter and Mike Pearlman of the International Laser Ranging Service presented the IfA with a plaque commemorating the Institute's help in returning NASA laser ranging to the middle of the Pacific. TLRS4 is a newer version of the LURE Observatory that formerly occupied the space now used by the Pan-STARRS PS1 telescope. It measures the position of Earth-orbiting satellites to within a centimeter by bouncing laser beams off them.