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Cosmic discoveries and NHCH update top Waimea Community Association meeting

<p>Gregory Wirth, support astronomer at the W.M. Keck Observatory (PHOTO COURTESY OF WCA)</p>

Gregory Wirth, support astronomer at the W.M. Keck Observatory (PHOTO COURTESY OF WCA)

<p>Resident astronomer Karun Thanjavur with Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (PHOTO COURTESY OF WCA)</p>

Resident astronomer Karun Thanjavur with Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (PHOTO COURTESY OF WCA)

Recent cosmic discoveries from right here in Waimea’s back yard and a glimpse of what lies ahead in the new year for astronomers at the Canada-France-Hawaii and the W.M. Keck Observatory will top the 5:15 p.m., Thurs., Jan. 10, Waimea Community Association Town Meeting in the W.M. Keck Observatory headquarters conference room.

WCA Town Meetings are usually the first Thursday of every month but are moved to the second Thursday to avoid major holidays such as New Years. The Jan. 10 meeting also is being relocated to the Keck conference room to facilitate sharing visuals of recent astronomy discoveries.

Also on the agenda will be a brief update on North Hawaii Community Hospital by Board Chairman Bob Momsen, along with a farewell report by former North and South Kohala County Councilman Pete Hoffmann, who has concluded his service on the council due to term limits.

Joining him will be newly seated council members Margaret Wille (District 9 – Waimea-Waikoloa-Puako-Kawaihae-North Kohala) and Val Poindexter (District 1 – Waimea-Hamakua). Everyone is invited to all WCA Town Meetings and there is no charge to attend nor membership dues, though donations to support the organization are welcome.

Presenting on behalf of the Keck observatory scientific community will be Gregory Wirth, a support astronomer at Keck since 1998, where he currently serves as the instrument master for the DEIMOS spectrograph and imager, and also supports observers on all of Keck’s optical instruments. He also coordinates requests for remote use of the telescopes from our mainland observing sites in California. Wirth earned his B.A. in Physics, Astronomy and Applied Math from Northwestern University, and his Ph.D. in Astronomy and Astrophysics from UC-Santa Cruz. His special interests include early-type galaxies and distant galaxy clusters.

Presenting on behalf of CFHT will be Karun Thanjavur, who has been with the observatory for three years as a resident astronomer from Canada. In his role as part of the astronomy group and the Queued Service Observing (QSO) team, his principal responsibilities include being the instrument scientist for WIRCam, the wide field infrared imager, and the project scientist for SPIRou, the near infrared, high resolution spectrograph being designed as the next generation exo-earth planet finder with first light in 2016. With a PhD in Astrophysics from the University of Victoria in Canada, as well as a Masters in Robotics, his research interests range from astronomical instrumentation, to the build up of large scale structure in the universe, the astrophysics of galaxies in the early universe, the internal dynamics of globular clusters, the characteristics of exo-planetary systems, among others. In his presentation, he will focus mainly on the history of CFHT, current status and future plans for the 32-year old observatory.

Together, the astronomy presentation will share the international headline grabbing research occurring here on Hawaii Island and its impact and meaning to the world of science and to our view of the universe.

The WCA program will begin with electing officers. This year the election will be for the association secretary and treasurer. Nominees for two-year terms are Nancy Carr Smith as secretary and Paul Johnston as treasurer. Proposed revisions to WCA Bylaws also will be discussed and voted on. As required, notice of the proposed revisions and copies of the document have been emailed to WCA members and friends and posted on the website. To review proposed Bylaw revisions, go to

All who attend WCA meetings are asked to help Waimea’s food pantries by bringing a donation – preferably cash or a check – or non-perishable food items. Starbucks-Waimea will contribute hot coffee,to the food pantry collection drive.

For information, call WCA President Sherman Warner T 885-1725, or visit