Asteroids, including those that might slam into Earth. Clouds of gas and dust on the verge of forming stars. Planets orbiting stars other than our own.This is some of the research astronomers say they have missed out on at 11 observatories on Hawaii’s tallest mountain as a protest blocks the road to the summit, one of the world’s premier sites for studying the skies. Astronomers said Friday they will attempt to resume observations, but they have already lost four weeks of viewing – and in some cases won’t be able to make up the missed research. Protesters, who are trying to stop the construction of yet another telescope at the site, say they should not be blamed for the shutdown.Astronomers cancelled more than 2,000 hours of viewing at Mauna Kea’s existing telescopes, work they estimate would have led to the publication of about 450 papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals. “Any one of them could have been spectacular, could have been Nobel Prize-winning science. We just now will never know,” said Jessica Dempsey, deputy director of the East Asian Observatory, which operates one of Mauna Kea’s telescopes. Stormy weather, earthquake damage and maintenance issues have interrupted observations before, but this is the longest all of the observatories on the dormant Big Island volcano have been shut down since its first telescope opened a half-century ago.The observatories’ large telescopes are owned and operated by universities and consortiums of universities including the University of California and California Institute of Technology. The national governments of Canada, France, Japan and others also fund and operate telescopes on their own or as part of a group. Astronomers around the world submit proposals to institutions they are members of to compete for valuable time on the telescopes.Mauna Kea’s dry air, clear skies and limited light pollution provide some of the world’s best nighttime viewing, and its number of advanced telescopes makes it an unparalleled place for astronomy in the Northern Hemisphere.“Some of the best observational astronomy being done today, some of the best and most critical scientific research, is being done on Mauna Kea,” said Rick Fienberg, press officer for the American Astronomical Society.In 2011, three astronomers won the Nobel Prize in physics for work that relied on data gathered using Mauna Kea’s W.M. Keck Observatory. Their analysis of exploding stars, or supernovas, showed the expansion of the universe is accelerating.Earlier this year, the East Asian Observatory was part of a global team that captured the first image of a black hole, a breakthrough that stirred talk of another Nobel.