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by Kathy Sawyer
National Geographic, October 1999, p.8.

Gary Puniwai sits at the controls of the world’s most powerful telescope on the summit of the highest peak in the Pacific, swaddled against the cold. In the eastern sky Orion the Hunter wheels above the horizon, taking aim at the infinite. Puniwai himself hunted wild pigs and sheep on this mountain as a boy, with his brother and two sisters. Now, as operator of the ten-meter-diameter Keck I telescope, he pursues more exotic quarry across the cosmic outback. Night after night Puniwai mans an array of five computer monitors, pointing and clicking to swivel the business end of the 700-ton domed structure toward black holes, exploding stars, gamma-ray bursts, the hiding places of alien worlds, and other phenomena targeted by an international parade of visiting astronomers. But tonight the massive dome won’t budge.

In recent days a life-threatening combination of fog, snowstorms, gale-force winds, and black ice on the treacherous, cliff-edged approach roads has periodically forced everybody to abandon the summit and retreat to a base camp farther down. This has meant shutting down all dozen of the telescope facilities that bristle here on the 13,800-foot heights of the dormant volcano Mauna Kea, an otherworldly landscape on the Big Island of Hawaii . . .