The Story of the Subaru Telescope


Subarau Telescope (right) and dome (left). Credit: M.E. Schwamb

The images you see on Comet Hunters come from the public archive images from the Subaru Telescope. Subaru is the first 8.2-meter class telescope in the world, built at 1998. It is equipped with a single mirror (8.2-meters is the largest size that currently is able to ground with precision into an astronomical mirror). The telescope is located on one of the best observing sites in the word,on the big island of Hawaii near the summit of Mauna Kea. Subaru is also the only 8.2-meter class which was constructed by a single government (Japan). The name for the telescope is the Japanese word for the Pleiades star cluster (sometimes referred to as the 7 sisters).

View of the top of Mauna Kea from the Subaru Telescope Catwalk - Credit: M.E. Schwamb

View of the top of Mauna Kea from the Subaru Telescope Catwalk – Credit: M.E. Schwamb

The images we serve on the site come specifically from the Suprime-Cam which is located at prime focus of the telescope. It has a 34′ x 27′ field of view on the sky with a pixel scale of 0.20”. We use are using the publicly available observations for the telescope which you can peruse further on your here.

Although it is 17 year old, Subaru is still one of the most powerful telescopes, by continuing to update its suite of instruments. In 2014, Subaru announced the open-use of Hyper Suprime-Cam (HSC) which is a very wide field camera with 10x field of view of old Suprime-Cam. HSC is at preset the world’s largest field-of-view camera on a 8-10-m class telescope (the largest collecting area optical telescopes we have to date). We are planning to incorporate HSC data into Comet Hunters in the near future.

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