Activities of the Observatory

Open-Use and Education Activities

Photo : A users' meeting of the telescope. Once a year, users and observatory staff gather together, and discuss latest research results and future plans.

Open-Use Observation

NAOJ is a national center of Japan's astronomy that has world-leading observation facilities. As an inter-university research institute, it engages in activities for progress of astronomy and relevant fields by widely promoting observation, research, and development, including joint research, as well as by furthering open use of those facilities for researchers nationwide. The Subaru Telescope invites proposals for an open-use observation program twice a year. The selection committee, which includes members from external institutes, determines which observation proposals have the most scientific merit and are best suited for the Subaru Telescope. A large number of requests are received from home and overseas, running as high as 300% to 400% over capacity in recent years.

Data Archive and Computer Network

The Subaru Telescope has a large data archiving capacity that is incorporated into a high-speed computer network. Fiber optic cables provide a direct link between the telescope on Maunakea, the Hilo Base Facility, and NAOJ headquarters in Mitaka, Japan.

The high-speed network allows astronomers to access to data, and to observe remotely from Japan as if they were at the telescope.

Observational data is held as proprietary for use by the original observation team for one and a half years. After this holding period, the data becomes available to other researchers around the world. The observatory maintains an archive system and a computer network for all data in the hope that it can be used to its full capacity.

Developing Next Generation of Researchers

photo: On-site training for SOKENDAI graduate students.

The Subaru Telescope also serves as a place for training and developing the next generation of researchers. Students from the Graduate University for Advanced Studies (SOKENDAI) in Japan and other universities stay at the observatory, and are actively involved in observational astronomy, and development and research of instruments. The observatory also encourages college students to participate in the observation experience, or to attend classes using a video-conference system, and accepts local high school and college students to work as interns.

Activities at Mitaka Campus

photo: Training session of the school of the Subaru Telescope held at the Mitaka Campus, NAOJ.

NAOJ headquarters in Mitaka, Tokyo, manages the open-use system of the Subaru Telescope, and provides researchers an interactive support system for data analysis. It also promotes various educational programs.

photo : Data analysis seminar of the Winter School for undergraduate and graduate students.

For Telescope/Instrument Work

photo: Process of Cassegrain Instrument Exchange.

Maintenance of Telescope

Maintenance work of the telescope, such as exchange of secondary mirror and science instruments, is planned and conducted by engineers, and day crew from the telescope technology and instrument divisions. The maintenance work helps to maximize the telescope performance at night observations.

Maintenance work of the telescope, such as exchange of secondary mirror and science instruments, is planned and conducted by engineers, and day crew from the telescope technology and instrument divisions. The maintenance work helps to maximize the telescope performance at night observations.

photo: Operation test of the instrument by the telescope simulator.

Development of Science Instruments

Science instruments, manufactured at the observatory and at institutes at home and abroad, are installed and tested at the telescope simulator for a final check of their operation when they are installed at the telescope. Not only hardware performance, but data transmission and operability are also tested, and are then carried to the telescope when accepted in the test.

In recent years, preparation is ongoing to install Prime Focus Spectroscopy (PFS), a groundbreaking instrument that can simultaneously obtain a large number of spectrums, ranging from optical to infrared light, from celestial objects that widely exists, utilizing as many as 2,400 optical fibers.

Public Information and Outreach Office

photo: Messier 77 obtained by deep-imaging observation with the Subaru Telescope's Hyper Suprime-Cam (HSC).

Release of Observation Results

Information is released via the web and social media to widely release observation results obtained from the Subaru Telescope.

Facility Tours and Lectures from Hilo Base Facility

Facility Tours

During daytime hours on weekdays, except for winter, there are tour programs of the Subaru Telescope on Maunakea. A tour guide escorts visitors along a tour route inside the telescope enclosure. Tours can be arranged for groups via the web.

Lectures from Hilo Base Facility

Observatory staff offers interactive lectures and classes between the Hilo Base Facility and schools or science organizations in Japan and on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Outreach Activities in Hawaii


The observatories on Maunakea organizes an annual event called AstroDay to offer exhibitions and demonstrations at a venue of a shopping mall in Hilo.

Science Class for Children

Science classes are held on multiple occasions every year in the Hawaii Island, including the Science Day for remembrance of Astronaut Ellison Onizuka from the Hawaii Island. Observatory staff participates in these events to offer classes of craft, experiments, and observations for children, and hold exhibitions of the observatory.

School visit

Observatory staff visit schools to give classes upon teachers' request. Many researchers of the observatory take part in an event called the Journey through the Universe, where personnel of the Maunakea Observatories visit many schools for the week of this event.


Observatory staff hold lectures of astronomy from time to time at places such as the University of Hawaii at Hilo, the Onizuka Center for International Astronomy Visitor Information Station, and the Imiloa Astronomy Center.