The Mauna Kea 24-inch telescopes

In 1967 the US Air Force contacted Bill Sinton with the request that he submit a proposal to build a 24-inch telescope on Mauna Kea for infrared work. They wanted to map the sky so as to be able to differentiate between man-made and astronomical sources and decided that Mauna Kea would be the best site to do this. The instrument became the first regularly scheduled telescope on Mauna Kea and was in great demand. It is still used by University of Hawaii astronomers.

A little later Lowell Observatory proposed to us that they should also locate a 24-inch telescope on the mountain. This was to be a unit of an International Planetary Patrol which Lowell was conducting under contract with NASA (partly under the stimulus of the Mars probe and the need for some better data on Martian dust storms). There were about six of these telescopes placed around the globe, including one in my native State of Western Australia. Again we were enthusiastic, and having fought off Lowell’s desire to build it on the actual summit we settled on a location near the 88-inch. The Planetary Patrol telescope is no longer on Mauna Kea; it was dismantled in the 1990s to make room for the Gemini North telescope.