Lewis named new Keck Observatory boss

Hilton Lewis didn’t plan to stay in Hawaii for very long.


Hilton Lewis didn’t plan to stay in Hawaii for very long.

“I was planning to spend three years at Keck (Observatory) and two years in Hawaii,” Lewis said Monday. “That’s what I promised my wife.”

That was also 28 years ago, when Lewis joined W.M. Keck Observatory to lead the design and development of the software systems that control the Keck Observatory’s twin 10-meter telescopes on Mauna Kea. On Monday, Keck officials announced he had been named the observatory’s newest director. For the last decade, he has been Keck’s deputy director.

“It’s been a great ride,” Lewis said. “It’s a fascinating project. It was just so exciting all along.”

Lewis earned a degree in electrical engineering from the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and a MBA from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Prior to joining the W. M. Keck Observatory, he designed and developed the software for the Australian National University’s innovative 2.3-meter telescope at Siding Spring in New South Wales, Australia, one of the world’s first fully computer-controlled telescopes, according to information provided by Keck.


The California Association for Research in Astronomy board selected Lewis for the job.

“We carried out a global and exhaustive search and recommended several compelling candidates to the CARA board,” Professor Shri Kulkarni, director of the Caltech Optical Observatories who chaired the search committee said in a press release. “Hilton was the obvious and best choice to continue Keck Observatory’s leadership in the astronomical world.”

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