Keck Observatory

Keck domes at sunset

The two 10-meter telescopes of the W. M. Keck Observatory (WMKO) are located near the summit of Mauna Kea on the island of Hawaii, in the state of Hawaii. Keck I was fully scheduled for astronomy in early 1994, and Keck II in October 1996. The two telescopes are separated by 85 meters, with Keck II roughly northeast of Keck I.

The observatory is operated by the California Association for Research in Astronomy in a partnership among the University of California, the California Institute of Technology, and NASA. These institutions and the University of Hawaii share observing time. Limited observing time is also available to the entire astronomical community as a result of awards from NSF’s Telescope System Instrumentation Program as well as time trades with Gemini. The observatory headquarters is in Waimea (in the postal district Kamuela) in the northwestern portion of the island of Hawaii.

Teleconferencing links between each of the telescope control rooms and the respective remote operations rooms in Waimea provide excellent visual and audio communication between observers in Waimea and the observing assistants on the mountain. With the physical conditions in Waimea (especially the atmospheric pressure) much kinder to observers than those on the summit, observing from Waimea is substantially more efficient in most instances and is the choice of nearly all Keck observers. First time observers, however, may profit by visiting the summit to get a proper appreciation of the way the observatory functions and how the observing assistants operate.

A 45 Mb/s optical fiber data link connects the telescopes to the Waimea headquarters.

Observatory postal address: 65-1120 Mamalahoa Highway, Kamuela, HI 96743

Telephone: (808) 885-7887, Fax: (808) 885-4464

Last updated or reviewed March 2, 2011.