Astronomy day on Mauna Kea in Hawaii
December 18, 2009
Morning in Hawaii starts with koi, flowers, and an awesome buffet. I get in a spinning class to make up for all the eating and lack of cycling, though I do enjoy touring around on the hotel's cruisers with the kids.
This afternoon I'm heading up to the top of Mauna Kea to visit the observatories and get in a little observing on slightly smaller scopes just below the summit. It's a crazy long drive to the top at over 13,000 feet, and the upper parts are all gravel. I didn't see any invisible cows, but I knew Monica would love this sign. I thought the very unique Silver Sword plant was quite interesting. It only grows around the visitor center and higher elevations. I also got my first view of Mauna Loa here above the clouds.
Meanwhile, my family enjoys the sunset and turtles down at sea level.
While I take a tour of the most powerful telescopes in the world. I sure wish we could go in and see them.
Our timing is perfect as the sun sets for the day. The big Keck dome opens for a busy night of observing I'm sure. Once the sun is down, we head down a few thousand feet to setup some scopes for an observing session of our own. I can see why everyone builds their observatories up here, as it's the clearest and darkest skies I have ever seen. It's amazing how many stars you can see as people once could long ago.
It's been a really long day with so much driving, so let's say goodnight to the torch bearing dude that Monica seems to like so much.