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IfA Director Rolf-Peter Kudritzki crosses the finish line of the 2005 Honolulu Marathon. Copyright 2005 Marathonphoto.

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From the Director

Dear Friends of Hawaii Astronomy,

Twice a year, during the days before March 31 and September 30, the lives of the IfA astronomers become very stressful. Those days are the deadlines for observing proposals for time on the Mauna Kea telescopes. Astronomers require access to telescopes; otherwise, we are not able to carry out our scientific work. Time on telescopes, especially the best ground-based ones such as those on Mauna Kea, is a rare and precious commodity, and we astronomers compete for it vigorously. The observing time on the telescopes is heavily oversubscribed by first-class proposals, and the selection of the winning ones by a peer review committee—based solely on scientific merit—is a tough process (see "Astronomers Must Compete for Telescope Time"). All the scientific progress that we want to make over the next year depends on whether we get the observing time we are asking for (or at least part of it). Thus, the proposals have to be excellent and convincing in order to win.

While this sounds like a really rough, Darwinian process, it is the only way to ensure that the very best science is done with the Mauna Kea telescopes. We include our graduate students in this process. In fact, the IfA is the only institute in the world that allows its graduate students to submit their own research proposals for telescopes that big. This unique opportunity allows our students to gain research experience and to learn how to succeed in scientific competitions. The work by student Dale Kocevski featured this issue is a beautiful example. As the IfA director, I am extremely happy about the outstanding scientific work done by our scientists with the Mauna Kea telescopes. But to be honest, when the committee finally comes up with the list of proposals it recommends receive observing time, and I realize that at least a few of mine have been accepted, I am much happier.

Rolf-Peter Kudritzki
Director, Institute for Astronomy


IfA 2006 Calendars Available

IfA 2006 calendars are available for new and renewing Friends of Hawaii Astronomy. For information, call Karen Toyama at (808) 956-8566, or email




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