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The Latest: Telescope staff secure facilities before storms

Posted at 8:18 PM, Jul 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-31 23:18:00-04

HONOLULU (AP) — The Latest on a protest against the construction of a new telescope in Hawaii (all times local):

5:20 p.m.

Staffers from existing telescopes on Hawaii’s tallest peak traveled up the mountain to secure their facilities as two storms approach the islands.

East Asian Observatory Deputy Director Jessica Dempsey says seven vehicles carried staff to the telescopes on Wednesday.

She says the observatories negotiated access through law enforcement because protesters continue to block the road to the summit to prevent construction of a large new telescope.

She says some staff moved telescope domes away from the direction of prevailing winds. Others disabled systems so they won’t get as damaged if there’s a prolonged power outage.

The protest is on its 17th day.

Hurricane Erick is expected to pass south of Hawaii later this week. Tropical Storm Flossie is forecast to approach the Big Island early next week.


1:30 p.m.

“Aquaman” star Jason Momoa is visiting Native Hawaiian protesters blocking the construction of a giant telescope on Hawaii’s tallest mountain.

The Native Hawaiian Hollywood actor wore green leaf lei around his neck and the crown of his head as he attended a ceremony at the protest site on Wednesday.

Honolulu television stations livestreamed dancers in jeans and windbreakers performing hula in chilly weather.

Momoa stooped low to present an offering wrapped in green ti leaves. He said he was honored to be there, drawing cheers after saying, “We are not going anywhere.”

Protesters have blocked the road to the summit for 17 days.

They oppose the telescope because some Native Hawaiians believe Mauna Kea’s summit is sacred. The summit also has the best conditions for astronomy in the Northern Hemisphere.