Haleakalā High Altitude Observatory

One of the most important observing sites in the world.

Latitude: 20.71552 Longitude: -156.169 Altitude 10,000

The Haleakalā High Altitude Observatory (HO) site is located near the summit of Haleakalā on the Hawaiian island of Maui. The site was formally designated for observatory use by an executive order of the Governor of Hawai’i in 1961, and has been managed and operated by the University of Hawai’i (UH) to support high-quality, high-impact research, education, and space surveillance since then. HO is not part of the Haleakalā National Park and is not open to the general public.



Faulkes Observatory North

Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope

TLRS-4 Laser Ranging System



Zodiacal Light Observatory

Maui Space Surveillance Complex

The Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System
(Pan-STARRS 1 & 2)

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Pan-STARRS is the largest single research project at the Institute for Astronomy.

The first telescope, Pan-STARRS1 (PS1) is a 1.8-meter diameter telescope located near the summit of Haleakala on the Island of Maui. It is equipped with the world’s largest digital camera, with almost 1.4 billion pixels.

A similar telescope, Pan-STARRS2 (PS2), has been constructed adjacent to PS1, and is expected to be operational in October 2017. It has a similar, but slightly larger digital camera, with almost 1.5 billion pixels.

The operation of the Pan-STARRS telescopes is mostly funded by the NASA Near Earth Observation Program. Each night, PS1 observes about 1,000 square degrees of the night sky, using a sequence of four exposures that span a period of about an hour. The images are compared to each other, and objects that move during the one hour period are identified. Objects that have unusual motions that make them likely to be Near Earth Objects are immediately reported to the Minor Planet Center, and a worldwide network of telescopes obtains additional observations of these Near Earth Object candidates to determine their orbits and sizes, and to determine whether any of them pose a threat to the Earth. The positions and brightnesses of all other moving objects are also reported to the Minor Planet Center, usually within 12 hours of observation.

Pan-STARRS1 is the world’s leading Near Earth Object discovery telescope. It presently discovers over half of the larger Near Earth Objects (diameter > 140 meters). Pan-STARRS1 is also very efficient at discovering new comets, discovering more than half of all new comets discovered each year since 2014.

The telescope is operated from the IfA’s Advanced Technology Research Center in Maui. Images from the telescope are transferred via a high-speed data connection to a powerful computer cluster for analysis.

Access to data from Pan-STARRS multicolor survey of the sky is available from the PS1 public data page.

Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope

National Science Foundation

The National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope is a four-meter solar telescope on the island of Maui, Hawai’i. It’s currently  the largest solar telescope in the world. With a focus on understanding the Sun’s explosive behavior, observations of magnetic fields are at the forefront of this innovative telescope. A combination of an off-axis design, to reduce scattered light, and cutting edge polarimetery produces the first ongoing measurements of the magnetic fields in the Sun’s corona. The Inouye’s 4-meter mirror provides views of the solar atmosphere like we’ve never seen before. Focusing on small observing changes, the cutting-edge instrument suite gathers unprecedented images from the Sun’s surface to the lower solar atmosphere. The Inouye Solar Telescope reveals features three times smaller than anything we can see on the Sun today, and does so multiple times a second. Not only do the world-class instruments and optical assembly allow spectacular imagery, but also have incredible spectroscopic capabilities. Observing the specific fingerprints of hundreds of atoms and ions throughout the solar surface and atmosphere will help us explain the dynamic nature of the Sun’s behavior. 

Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS)

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ATLAS is an asteroid impact early warning system being developed by the University of Hawaii and funded by NASA. It consists of two telescopes, 100 miles apart, which automatically scan the whole sky several times every night looking for moving objects.

ATLAS will provide one day’s warning for a 30-kiloton “town killer,” a week for a 5-megaton “city killer,” and three weeks for a 100-megaton “county killer”.

Maui Space Surveillance Complex (MSSC)

U.S. Space Force

MSSC consists of a suite of telescopes dedicated to tracking, characterizing, and cataloging man-made objects in space. The complex supports advanced research to expand the nation’s ability to understand the capability and intent of these objects.


Faulkes Telescope North

Las Cumbres Observatory

The Faulkes Telescope North is part of the Las Cumbres Observatory global telescope network. The network is comprised of twenty-five telescopes, at seven sites around the world, working together as a single instrument. The mission of the observatory is to advance our understanding of the universe through science and education.

Transportable Laser Ranging System 4 (TLRS-4)

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The University of Hawaii IfA is operating and maintaining the TLRS-4 at the Haleakala High Altitude Observatory Site (HO) at Haleakala on the island of Maui under a contract with NASA/GSFC.

Laser Ranging has been part of UH IfA operations at HO since 1972. The LURE Observatory was established at HO under contract to NASA, and was operated by the UH IfA during the period 1972-2004. During this time, LURE provided NASA/GSFC with extremely accurate measurements of the distance to the Moon and to artificial Earth satellites. This is accomplished by bouncing very short pulses of laser light off special reflectors left on the Moon by the Apollo astronauts and installed on satellites orbiting the earth. By accurately timing the round-trip time of flight of these pulses, distances can be computed and precise orbits determined. These data are used to acquire fundamental information about the geophysical processes of the Earth and the Earth-Moon system. For a more complete description of LR, visit the ILRS web site.

Zodiacal Light Observatory

In the Zodiacal Light Observatory  is the SOLARC instrument is a 0.5 meter, off-axis corona graphic reflecting telescope with a fiber-fed imaging spectropolarimeter. The telescope is used for a number of solar and coronal experiments.

Visiting Haleakala

The observatories are not open to the public.
Please refer to the Haleakala National Park web site for information about Haleakala.

Map of the Summit

Haleakalā: Sense of Place

Film features:
Nainoa Thompson
Kumu Charles
Kahuluwehi Maxwell
Charles Kaupu
Hokulani Holt
Kaleikoa Ka’eo
Biologist Art Medeiros and others.

Music by:
Barry Flanagan
Gabby Pahunu
Kevin and Ikaika Brown

Haleakala : House of the Sun

A Sense of Place
Cultural Overview

Institute for Astronomy

We are one of the largest university astronomy programs in the world.