An artist's illustration of the proposed Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea. (credit: Thirty Meter Telescope)

For astronomers seeking to build the world's largest telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawaii, it will be anything but a Mele Kalikimaka. Hawaiian media reported that heavy machinery parked near a construction site atop the mountain since March was removed on Wednesday.

The removal marked another victory for native Hawaiians who are protesting construction of the 55-meter-tall facility on top of Mauna Kea, saying it desecrates sacred ground. “There was a lot of joy and gratitude,” said Hawane Rios of the mood among those protesting construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope.

Earlier this month the organizers of the telescope project, led by the California Institute of Technology, suffered a major setback when the Hawaii Supreme Court invalidated the land use permit that had been issued by the state's Board of Land and Natural Resources. At the time, the telescope's chairman said, "We are assessing our next steps on the way forward. We appreciate and thank the people of Hawaii and our supporters from these last eight-plus years."

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