FILE - This file image made by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows M106 with additional information captured by amateur astronomers. Despite years of legal battles and months of protests by Native Hawaiian opponents, the international coalition that wants to build the world's largest telescope in Hawaii insists that the islands' highest peak, Mauna Kea, is the best place for their $1.4 billion instrument. Thirty Meter Telescope officials say their new instrument will produce images that are 12 times sharper than the Hubble Space Telescope. (STScI/AURA), R. Gendler via AP, File)

Astronomer: 'Magic' nights make Hawaii best telescope site

August 25, 2019 - 11:11 am

HONOLULU (AP) — Backers of a proposed giant telescope insist that Hawaii is the best place for their $1.4 billion instrument despite protests by some Native Hawaiians.

Telescope officials say the backup site in Spain's Canary Islands is comparable to Hawaii's Mauna Kea and it wouldn't cost more money to put it there.

But astronomy professor and Thirty Meter Telescope board member Michael Bolte says there are nights on Mauna Kea that produce images impossible to get elsewhere.

Independent experts agree that for certain types of observations, Mauna Kea's higher altitude and cooler temperatures are better than the Spanish site on the island of La Palma.

But they also say advances in optical technology and new space-based telescopes can level the playing field.

There's also no significant opposition to the telescope in Spain.

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