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The Keck Telescope At Mauna Kea





The natural sciences, as the name implies, study the phenomenon that occur in nature, and though our knowledge of this grows day by day, we still have limitations in what we know and how we can observe nature. In the science of astronomy, which makes a study of the heavens, we're actually limited by the very air in our atmosphere, which helps to diffuse light coming in and interferes with our views of space.

But sometimes, nature itself seems to help us around our limitations. The twin Keck telescopes, located on the dormant volcano Mauna Kea, is an example of how natural conditions have allowed us to overcome limitations we would find almost everywhere else on Earth and further the cause of science. There are several features that made Mauna Kea the perfect site to place the powerful Keck telescopes.

Height

Mauna Kea is the highest point in Hawaii, but even beyond that, it's technically the tallest mountain in the world. Everest holds claim to the highest elevation, but Mauna Kea tops it in size at over 33,000 feet. While more than half of this is underwater, the remaining bit of mountain above sea level still puts this summit observatory where the air is thin and where there is very little water vapor in the air. This means that the Keck telescopes get a view with less interference from what's in the air than most places on earth.

The Lay of the Land

Locating an observatory on a tall mountain is great for avoiding pollution in the atmosphere, but one would think that reaching the summit would be difficult to manage. However, Mauna Kea doesn't have just height as a key feature. It's what is called a shield volcano, which means that its sides have a very shallow slope, which makes trucking materials and people up to the summit a piece of cake. Because of this, building and staffing the Keck telescopes was an easy thing to do.

In addition to this, despite being a chain of islands formed from volcanic activity, the region around the Mauna Kea is very stable. Also, the lava flows in Hawaii tend to be small and manageable, so in the unlikely event of an eruption, the danger to the Keck telescopes would be minimal.

The Perfect Location

The beautiful beaches and great weather aren't the reason the Keck telescopes are located in Hawaii, but the miles of ocean around the Hawaiian Islands are a good reason to locate a place devoted to astronomy. Because most of the area around the Hawaiian Islands is ocean, there's less places where cities and towns can be built, which cuts down on light pollution from street lights, lamps, and so on.

This means the stars in the sky have less light from below to compete with. Little things like this would be difficult to find anywhere else in the world, and because of this, the Keck telescopes are located in one of the most uniquely perfect regions to study the stars in. This is one of the few times where nature itself seems to conspire to help us study the universe around us.
About Author Ann Marier :

Ann Marier writes informative articles about family life and general health issues, Her lastest are about telescopes and the start world. Click on <a href="http://childtelescope.com" target="_blank">http://childtelescope.com</a> to read all the different telescope articles Click on <a href="http://ultimatehealthinfo.com" target="_blank">http://ultimatehealthinfo.com</a> to see the other general health articles


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Article Added on Tuesday, May 29, 2007
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