The US government approved the plan to build the world’s largest telescope at the summit of Hawaii’s Mauna Kea volcano. The telescope could observe planets that orbit stars other than the sun and enable astronomers to observe new planets and stars being formed. It will also help scientists understand the early years of the universe. The primary mirror used in the telescope is nearly 100 feet tall. It will enable nine times the collecting area of the largest optical telescopes functioning at present. Its images will also be three times brighter.
There are protests against the plan arguing it would defile the mountain’s sacred summit. Native Hawaiian tradition considers high altitudes as sacred and a gateway to heaven. Environmentalists are also protesting on the grounds that would harm habitat for the rare wekiu bug.
The University of California system, the Association of Canadian Universities and the California Institute of Technology for Research in Astronomy are leading the telescope project. India, China and Japan have joined the project as partners.