I am leading efforts to discover Near Earth Objects with the Pan-STARRS telescopes atop Haleakala on Maui.

Earth continues to be hit by Near-Earth Objects. Fortunately, impact by large objects is rare – Earth is hit by approximately two 1-km diameter objects every million years. Impact by smaller objects is more frequent. The US Congress has tasked NASA with finding 90% of all 140-meter diameter or larger NEOs. Pan-STARRS is a major contributor to that effort – approximately 35% of the 140-meter diameter or larger NEOs are known at this time.

Dark night skies are essential for astronomy. Recent changes in lighting, including widespread use of Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) for lighting, threaten our dark night skies over Maunakea and Haleakalā. I lead the Institute for Astronomy’s efforts to protect Hawaii’s dark night skies from light pollution.

My son has produced a COVID-19 website that may be of interest.


Pan-STARRS on Haleakalā is being used to search the sky every clear night for Near-Earth Objects (NEOs). In 2019, Pan-STARRS was the leading NEO discovery survey, with 1,100 discoveries. In October 2017, Pan-STARRS discovered the first interstellar object, `Oumuamua. Apart from the NEO discoveries, Pan-STARRS is a prolific discoverer of new comets, and other transient phenomena in the night sky.


  • A brief visit from a red and extremely elongated interstellar asteroid, K.J. Meech, et al., Nature, 552, 378 (2017)
  • A kilonova as the electromagnetic counterpart to a gravitational-wave source, S. Smartt et al., Nature, 551, 75.
  • Inner solar system material discovered in the Oort cloud, K.J. Meech, B. Yang, J. Kleyna, O.R. Hainaut, S. Berdyugina, J.V. Keane, M. Micheli, A. Morbidelli, and R.J. Wainscoat, Science Advances, e1600036 (2016)
  • The Pan-STARRS search for Near Earth Objects, R. Wainscoat, K. Chambers, E. Lilly, S. Chastel, L. Denneau, M. Micheli, IAU Symposium 318 - Asteroids: New Observations, New Models, pages 293–298, (editors S. Chesley and R. Jedicke) (2015)


Astronomy 110 Fall Semester 2017 (Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:30 HIG 110)

Astronomy 110 Fall Semester 2018 (Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:30 HIG 110)

Astronomy 110 Fall Semester 2019 (Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:30 HIG 110)



Member of CFHT Scientific Advisory Committee 2015-2019

President of IAU Commission 50 (preservation of dark sky at observatory sites) 2006-2009

Liaison between IAU and CIE 2018-present

Member of CIE Technical Committee 4-58


Graduate Students

  • Hiroko Maekawa (ASTR 399)


  • Rob Weryk
  • Yudish Ramanjooloo
  • Eva Lilly

Richard Wainscoat

Ph.D. 1987, Australian National University (Astronomy)
B.Sc. (Hons), University of Western Australia (Physics)
  • Pan-STARRS
  • Near Earth Objects
  • Dark Skies
IfA Mānoa, B-220
(808) 956-8429(808) 956-8429