Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope research & development

The Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) on Maunakea, Hawaii, is jointly owned and operated by the National Research Council (NRC), the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique of France and the University of Hawaii.

Since becoming operational in 1979, this 3.6-metre telescope has provided scientists around the world with the capability to conduct scientific research, including optical and infra-red imaging, high resolution spectroscopy and multi-object spectroscopy. To keep pace in the competitive world of astronomy, new capabilities, including one of the largest astronomical cameras in the world – MegaCam, are continuously added to the facility.

While CFHT’s main users are from Canada, France and Hawaii, collaborative agreements also offer telescope access to astronomers in Europe, Taiwan, Brazil, South Korea and China. These collaborations have yielded many major astronomical developments over the past few decades; from techniques for the discovery of extra-solar planets, to the best characterization to date of the nature of dark energy in the universe, and spatially resolving Pluto and Charon for the very first time.


Collaboration Opportunities

Over the years, NRC’s multidisciplinary scientific and instrumentation development expertise has contributed extensively to the quality of research activities undertaken at the facility, and to the very development of instrumentation capabilities available for use in individual and collaborative projects. With scientists and engineers working side-by-side on collaborative projects, NRC engineers understand the effects of technical designs on astronomical research, while their astronomer peers provide critical insight into end-user requirements.

Technology in support of science: instrumentation projects

In order to stay relevant as new observatories and more powerful telescopes have been developed over the past two decades, new instrumentation has been developed to increase CFHT productivity and discovery potential. NRC is not only a joint owner-operator at the CFHT facility, but it is actively involved in many of the engineering projects to further the technical capability of the telescope.

Working with private companies and other research partners on CFHT design, construction and subsequent instrumentation projects, NRC has helped advanced industrial research capabilities in important fields such as high-resolution imaging that have valuable cross-over applications in other health and ICT sectors. Canadian involvement in CFHT has also helped create new capabilities and market opportunities for engineering and manufacturing companies through engagement in the development of telescope structural enclosures.

Advancing our understanding of the universe: science projects

Over the past three decades, CFHT research has had a serious impact on our understanding of the universe. Canadian astronomers have used CFHT facilities and instrumentation to advance our understanding of dark energy and dark matter, supernovae, the discovery of solar system bodies beyond Neptune in the Kuiper Belt and faint galaxies in the Virgo Cluster.


JJ Kavelaars
Telephone: 250-363-8694

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Targeted industries

Astronomy, Aerospace, Information and communications technologies

Contact us

To find out more about our collaborative research and technology development at the CFHT, please contact:

JJ Kavelaars
Telephone: 250-363-8694

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