Frequently Asked Questions
- I'm interested in amateur astronomy. Where can I find out more about that?
- Can I visit your observatories (UKIRT and JCMT)?
- I am a publisher/writer/editor/web designer/TV producer. May I use the images/videos on your website?
- Who was James Clerk Maxwell?
- Where are JAC staff from?
- Where can I buy JAC merchandise?
I'm interested in amateur astronomy. Where can I find out more about that?
If you're based on the Big Island, there are three astronomy clubs.
The University of Hilo Astrophysics Club meetings are every Monday at 4pm on campus in USB 115.
The contact persons are Robert Albarran and
The club's website is http://www2.hawaii.edu/~astro
The Hilo Astronomy Club's contact is Josh Walawender,
and their Yahoo Group can be found
The West Hawai`i Astronomy Club meets every second Tuesday of the month from 7pm to 9 pm,
alternating between Keck Observatory and CFHT in Kamuela/Waimea.
The contact person is Doug Summers.
The club's website is http://www.whacastro.com
For more information, especially if you're based elsewhere, please see
The Astronomy White Pages
and The Astronomical League.
Can I visit your observatories (UKIRT and JCMT)?
Our observatories are unfortunately not equipped to
handle visitors, so you can not go inside. The same goes for our
facility in Hilo.
The Mauna Kea Visitor
Information Station runs tours of the summit area every Saturday,
and they do visit the Keck Observatory and the UH-88" Observatory.
In addition you can see all of the observatories from the outside.
You can find out more about this tour from
The Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station (MKVIS) is at the 9000-foot
level on the mountain. To get there, drive out of Hilo towards Kona on
the Saddle Road. After the 27 mile marker, and around the 28 mile marker,
turn right towards Mauna Kea (it is the only right turn on this part
of the Saddle Road). The MKVIS has a website at
and there is a recorded message on telephone number 808-961-2180. You
can get to the MKVIS (but not the summit) in a standard 2WD car.
The MKVIS runs summit tours on Saturdays and Sundays. These are free,
but you need to provide your own 4WD. See the page at
If you need to rent your own 4WD, a company that does this is Harpers:
The MKVIS website also has a list of permitted commercial tour operators at
Even if you don't go all the way to the summit, the MKVIS run a free
stargazing programme every night from sundown to 10pm. Information is at
If you do spend time on the mountain, please do be very careful.
It will be much colder than sea level, the altitude can cause problems,
and the roads can be dangerous! Please read the advice on pages such as
Make sure you spend plenty of time (45-60 minutes) at the MKVIS level to acclimatize.
I am a publisher/writer/editor/web designer/TV producer. May I use the images/videos on your website?
If you would like to use any of our images/videos, please contact us for permission at:
Joint Astronomy Centre
660 N. A`ohoku Place
Hilo, HI 96720 USA
Who was James Clerk Maxwell?
James Clerk Maxwell was a famous 19th century Scottish physicist
who discovered that light was in fact an electromagnetic wave. It is part of the
electromagnetic spectrum, which ranges from radio waves through visible
light to x-rays. You can find out much more about him from
The Clerk Maxwell Foundation.
Where are JAC staff from?
All over the place! We have many people from here in Hawai`i,
and from the rest of the U.S.A., of course. In addition, we have
staff from the U.K., Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, India, Australia,
Sweden, the Czech Republic, China and Greece.