Protest against Hawaiian telescope construction in Grants Pass

Nationwide, protesters are raising awareness against a proposed 30-meter telescope to be built on sacred Hawaiian land, Mauna Kea.

A local Hawaiian community plans to meet for a protest in downtown Grants Pass to show support for indigenous Hawaiian opposition to a proposed telescope on Mauna Kea.

To native Hawaiians, the dormant volcano is the most sacred land in the entire Pacific and is known as the point where the sky and earth meet. They believe it is the site of the genesis of their people, and it is the burial ground for their most revered ancestors. Considered a temple and a house of worship, native Hawaiians believe the gods created Mauna Kea for them to ascend to the heavens.

Jay Kaneholani, who is taking part in the local protest, says he is grateful for how welcoming Oregon has been to him and other Hawaiians, but Hawaii is his true home.

The protest starts at the 808 Ohana Grindz restaurant on SW K Street in Grants Pass at 4:30 p.m. At 5 p.m. the group plans to move the demonstration to 6th Street.

Kaneholani says he is "standing in solidarity for what the mountain means to the people." He also mentioned that they plan to do so peacefully, and just want to spread awareness.

"We just want to be able to shed light on what's happening," Kaneholani said.

To scientists, the mountaintop is the best location in the world to observe the stars and study the origins of the universe. Hawaii is optimal due to its low humidity levels as well.

Inspired by the images being captured from the summit, a group of astronomers wants to build the world's most sophisticated telescope at the top of Mauna Kea. It's called the Thirty Meter Telescope, or TMT for short because the primary mirror of the telescope is 30 meters across. The TMT is estimated to cost $1.4 billion.

TMT will use adaptive optics, enabling the telescope to correct for the blurring that usually occurs as a result of the Earth's atmosphere, which can distort and warp what may be seen. It will allow scientists from all over the globe to capture what they hope will be the sharpest images yet of the space.

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