Heather Prinzing was born in California, but raised on the beautiful island of Kauai. She has just completed an A.S. degree in Electronics Technology at Kauai Community College. She hopes to find a job in computer networking, possibly as a Network Administrator. In Heather’s free time she enjoys cooking, hanging out with friends and family, and spending time outdoors- gardening, hiking, and camping.

Home Island: Kauai
Institution when accepted: Kauai Community College

Akamai Project: A New Environmental Monitoring System for the UH 88-Inch Telescope
Project Site: Institute for Astronomy, Hilo
Mentors: Bob Calder, Luke McKay, Colin Aspin

Project Abstract:

The primary purpose of an environmental monitoring system (“weather station”) located at an astronomical observatory is to provide accurate weather measurements of the current conditions.  The data help to determine if the conditions are not only safe, but suitable for observing the night sky.  In June 2011, the weather station located at the Univ. of Hawai‘i 88-inch Telescope observatory building on Mauna Kea was destroyed by lightning.  The aim of this project was to install a new weather station in an optimal location near the UH88″ telescope on Mauna Kea.  We used a Vaisala WXT520 weather transmitter to measure and record weather parameters at three different locations around the outside of the UH88″ telescope.  The recorded weather parameters were then compared with the data collected from other weather stations in the vicinity. From those results, we determined that the placement of the weather station in relation to the building is crucial in order to attain accurate weather data.  We concluded that the best location for the new Vaisala WXT520 is on the top of the UH88″ telescope dome.  In the near future, the observatory plans to improve on the default software which collects the weather data.  This improvement will provide greater control of weather parameters and warnings relating to the safety of the telescope prior to severe weather.