A group of protestors descended upon the International Astronomical Union's annual conference in Honolulu, Hawaii to oppose the construction of the TMT.
The International Astronomical Union’s annual conference in Honolulu, Hawaii was this week, and thousands of astronomers from around the globe gathered to discuss the future of astronomy. According to an ABC report, however, this year’s conference was confronted by protestors against the construction of the TMT, the $1.4 billion dollar Thirty Meter Telescope.
Three-dozen protestors representing Mauna A Wakea, gathered outside to voice their opposition to the TMT’s planed location atop the summit of Mauna Kea.
According to Joshua Mangauil of Mauna A Wakea, the protestors were not opposing the conference, or astronomy itself. They wanted to bring attention to the location choice for the construction of not one, but two massive telescopes, one on the Big Island and one on Maui.
Astronomers didn’t stop the proceedings at the conference to address the concerns of the protestors, who arrived at a time when tensions surrounding the telescope were at an all-time peak.
Mauna Kea, the tallest mountain in the world from seafloor to summit, is one of the sacred sites for many Native Hawaiians. It rises 13,796 feet above the sea, and its isolation from any light pollution makes it a perfect spot to build the Thirty Meter Telescope.
There is already a giant observatory at the summit, which currently runs 13 different telescopes. The combined power of these telescopes is 60 times that of the Hubble.
Native Hawaiians have fought the plans to build the telescope since they were announced, and the scientists at the IAU said they would take every environmental and cultural concern into consideration before the telescope could be constructed.