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Rolf-Peter Kudritzki

Institute for Astronomy

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From the Director

Dear Friends of Hawaii Astronomy,

Astronomy has many facets. This imaginative science tells us about exotic objects such as black holes and time warps, very distant islands—galaxies—in the empty sea of the Universe, planetary systems around other stars, and the possibility that we are not alone in the Universe. But astronomy is also the development of new technologies that lead not only to breakthroughs in science but also to spin-offs that improve our daily lives.

For example, 400 years ago, Galileo created a tiny telescope, the first one ever used to look at the sky. With this new piece of technology, he detected craters on the Moon, moons orbiting Jupiter, the phases of Venus, and the stars in the Milky Way. And he proved that Earth orbits the Sun.

Three hundred years later, Paul Edwin Hubble and his colleagues developed the technology to produce a giant glass mirror 100 inches in diameter. With this new technology, Hubble soon found that our Universe consists of billions of galaxies flying away from each other as the result of the giant cosmic explosion that created the Universe. Over the centuries, astronomers have developed the most precise and powerful optical systems, the most accurate clocks (because precise measurement of time is essential for astronomers), and the most sensitive detectors to register the light of the faintest cosmic objects. All of this has resulted in everyday spin-offs.

The IfA has an impressive record in technology development. Very recently, the institute broke ground in Kula, Maui, for the Advanced Technology Research Center. This important new facility for the development of astronomy-related technology will enable us to design, fabricate, and test instrumentation for the $160 million Advanced Technology Solar Telescope and other major projects. It is one more very important step toward our goal of integrating the exciting science of astronomy and the world of modern technology into the life of our Hawaiian Islands.


Rolf-Peter Kudritzki
Director, Institute for Astronomy


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