Since December 2016 I have been a Astronomer Emeritus, after 36 years as a staff astronomer at the Institute for Astronomy.  I began as a support astronomer for the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) in 1980, then moved to the faculty in 1989 and then became the director of the IRTF in 2000.  I have been involved in building instrumentation throughout my career while conducting research in the solar system, interstellar medium, and star formation.

Full Curriculum Vita.

Short Curriculum Vita.


Full Curriculum Vita

Short Curriculum Vita


Book Chapters

Infrared Astronomy, Tokunaga, A.T. 2000, in Allen’s Astrophysical Quantities, 4th edition, ed. A.N. Cox, Springer-Verlag, NY, p. 143.

Infrared Astronomy Fundamentals, Tokunaga, A.T., Vacca, W.D., Young, E.T. 2013, in Planets, Stars and Stellar Systems, Vol. 2: Astronomical Techniques, Software, and Data, ed. T.D. Oswalt and H.E. Bond, Springer, p. 99.

Steps Toward a Common Near-Infrared Photometric System, Tokunaga, A.T. and Vacca, W.D. 2007, in The Future of Photometric, Spectrophotometric and Polarimetric Standardization, ASP Conf. Ser., vol. 364, ed. C. Sterken, p 409.

Infrared Techniques for Comet Observations in Comets in the Post-Halley Era, Hanner, M.S., and Tokunaga, A.T. 1991, Vol. 1, eds. R.L. Newburn, M. Neugebauer, and J. Rahe, Kluwer Acad. Pub., p. 67.

New Generation Ground-Based Optical/Infrared Telescopes, Tokunaga, A.T. 2014, in Encyclopedia of the Solar System, 3rd ed., ed. T. Spohn and D. Breuer, Elsevier, p. 1089.

Carbonaceous Onion-Like Particles: A Possible Component of the Interstellar Medium, Wada, S. and Tokunaga, A.T. 2006, in Natural Fullerenes and Related Structures of Elemental Carbon,  ed. Frans J.M. Rietmeijer, Springer, Dordrecht, p. 31.  

Selected Publications

iSHELL: a 1-5 micron R = 80,000 Immersion Grating Spectrograph for the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility, Rayner, J., Tokunaga, A., Jaffe, D., Bond, T., Bonnet, M., et al. 2022. PASP 134: 015002.

The 3.3 μm Infrared Emission Feature: Observational and Laboratory Constraints on Its Carrier, Tokunaga, A.T., and Bernstein, L.S. 2021, ApJ, 916, 52.

More whiffs of the aromatic universe, Tokunaga, A.T., and Knacke, R.F. 2019, Physics Today, 72, 12.

Multi-epoch Detections of Water Ice Absorption in Edge-on Disks around Herbig Ae Stars: PDS 144N and PDS 453, Terada, H., and Tokunaga, A.T. 2017, ApJ, 834, article id. 115.

Ground-based high-resolution infrared and submillimeter searches for the release of volcanic gases on mars, Khayat, A., Villanueva, G.L., Mumma, M.J., Tokunaga, A.T. The Sixth International Workshop on the Mars Atmosphere: Modelling and Observation, Jan. 17-20 2017, Granada, Spain, p. 4205.

iSHELL: construction, assembly and testing, Rayner, J., Tokunaga, A., Jaffe, D., Bonnet, M., Ching, G., Connelley, M., Kokubun, D., Lockhart, C., Warmbier, E. 2016, Proceedings of the SPIE, 9908, id. 990884.

New high spectral resolution spectrograph and mid-IR camera for the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility, Tokunaga, A.T., Bus, S.J., Connelley, M., Rayner, J. 2016, American Astronomical Society, DPS meeting #48, id.123.39.

A search for SO2,H2S and SO above Tharsis and Syrtis volcanic districts on Mars using ground-based high-resolution submillimeter spectroscopy, Khayat, A.S., Villanueva, G.L., Mumma, M.J., Tokunaga, A.T. 2015, Icarus, 253, 130.

Rapid evolution of the innermost dust disc of protoplanetary discs surrounding intermediate-mass stars, Yasui, C., Kobayashi, N., Tokunaga, A.T., Saito, M. 2014, MNRAS, 442, 2543.

Discovery of Crystallized Water Ice in a Silhouette Disk in the M43 Region, Terada, H., Tokunaga, A.T. 2012, ApJ, 753, article id. 19.

Key science drivers for MICHI: a mid-IR instrument concept for the TMT, Packham, C., Honda, M., Richter, M., Okamoto, Y.K., Kataza, H., Onaka, T., Fujiyoshi, T., Tokunaga, A., Chun, M., et al. 2012. Proceedings of the SPIE, 8446, article id. 84467G.

New phase compensating secondary mirrors for the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility, Tollestrup, E.V., Tokunaga, A.T. 2010, Proceedings of the SPIE, 7733, article id. 77331K.

The Mauna Kea Observatories Near-Infrared Filter Set. III. Isophotal Wavelengths and Absolute Calibration, Tokunaga, A.T. and Vacca, W.D. 2005, Pub. Astronomical Soc. Pacific, 117, 421.

The Mauna Kea Observatories Near-Infrared Filter Set. II. Specifications for a New JHKL’M’ Filter Set for Infrared Astronomy, Tokunaga, A.T., Simons, D.A., Vacca, W.D. 2002.  Pub. Astron. Soc. Pacific, 114, 180.

IRCS: infrared camera and spectrograph for the Subaru Telescope, Kobayashi, N., Tokunaga, A.T., Terada, H., et al. 2000,  Proceedings of the SPIE, 4008, 1056.

Discovery of Young Stellar Objects at the Edge of the Optical Disk of Our Galaxy, Kobayashi, N. and Tokunaga, A.T. 2000, ApJ, 532, 423.


I was a visiting professor at the University of Tokyo during February 2018.  I gave a course on “Introduction to Infrared Astronomy”.  The pdf files of my power point slides with annotation is given here.  At the bottom of the list is a file that has all of the lectures.

0. Information Regarding the Course

1. Introduction

2. Observing through the atmosphere

3. Background emission from the Ground

4. Background Emission from Space

5. Detection of Infrared Radiation

6. Optimizing Signal-to-Noise

7. IR standards and Absolute Calibration

8. Infrared Sky Surveys and Space Missions

9. Spectrograph design

10. Spectroscopy

11. Interstellar Extinction

12. Instrumentation – Some Topics  

Here is a file that contains all of the above: Introduction to IR Astronomy Lectures Feb2018    

Alan T Tokunaga

Astronomer Emeritus
Ph.D. 1976, State Univ. of New York at Stony Brook
B.S. 1971, Pomona College
IfA Mānoa, B-111
(808) 284-2990(808) 284-2990