Astronomy in Hawai`i 1964-1970

John T. Jefferies
Professor Emeritus, University of Hawaii

These notes are a heavily edited version of relevant sections of a family history that was drawn mainly from memory. It is in no sense a comprehensive history of even the first phase of the life of the program that became the Institute for Astronomy but was prepared to set down some things that may not be well known and that most would agree were seminal to the birth of a program that has grown to one of major consequence, and in the initiation of an observatory of an importance unsurpassed by any on Earth.

Although my tenure as Director of the Institute lasted until 1983, I have chosen to limit coverage here to the years from 1964 to 1970, plus a few things that began during this period and played out subsequently. To do justice to the explosive growth of astronomy in Hawaii in the 1970s would have extended this text beyond what seemed appropriate and demand a commitment in time, resources, and inclination that I do not possess.

I have found it very difficult to decide what to include even within this limited period – there was such a wealth of material. Inevitably, too, I am unable to give adequate recognition of the fine and selfless contributions made by all those who began and built the Institute in the years I was there. These people know who they were, and I hope that they will be in no doubt as to my profound admiration for what they did and of my deep appreciation for all the support and friendship that they showed to me and to each other. If I could address each of them personally, it would be to say that there is nothing in my professional life that approaches the fulfillment of the years in Hawaii, nor anything that will replace the fellowship generated in our striving to build something of real and permanent value from the very ground up. But still I must specifically recognize the one individual who was perhaps most deeply involved – my wife Charmian. Her fundamental and beneficent influence would, I know, be freely attested by all who were a part of these early days and on behalf of all of us I offer my deepest thanks to her. Finally I would like to thank Gareth Wynn-Williams for the suggestion that I prepare these notes, for his patience and persistence in seeing that it was completed, and for his fine job of editing.