The View From The Top

Another fun day on the Big Island.

We started the day by relaxing at the pool at our hotel.

Ryan enjoying the water slide.

Later, we went on a tour of Mauna Kea.  The tour bus picked us up at the hotel.  The drive to our first stop was about an hour.  The driver, the most excellent Robert, gave a short intro and asked all of us to introduce ourselves. We arrived at our first stop… dinner. Our elevation at this point ~6700 ft. Dinner was served here so we could get acclimated to the elevation. After dinner, we boarded the bus to go up the mountain. It was not a very pleasant drive… an unpaved road meant for only 4×4 vehicles.

Panoramic view of Mauna Loa from Mauna Kea
Mauna Loa (the largest mountain on Earth!)

After about an hour we made it to the top (elevation 13700 ft!).  It was cold!  But the tour provided parkas and gloves.  We arrived at the summit just before sunset.  It was beautiful up there… above the clouds.  And, we were able to see the full moon rise on one side and the sun set on the other… very cool!  We stayed up there for a little while to enjoy the view and the sunset.

The full moon rising. The peak seen in this picture is actually the shadow of Mauna Kea only seen just before sunset.
Sunset from the summit of Mauna Kea.
Panoramic view from the summit of Mauna Loa. The peak on behind the telescopes is the island of Maui.
Standing on the summit of Mauna Kea with the full moon behind.

We then headed down the mountain to the visitors center.  In a parking lot nearby, our tour guide set up a telescope for a stargazing session.  Because of the full moon, we were not able to see some of the deep-space objects (nebula, milky way, etc) that are usually visible with the telescope.  But we did see Mars, Jupiter (and 4 Jovian moons), a bunch of stars (Vega, Polaris, etc) and of course… the moon.  We star gazed for about 90 minutes and then headed back to the hotel.

The full moon
Multiple 30 second exposures (~180) taken using a fish-eye lens. Software was used to compile all of it together.

It was a great experience and we will try to do it again sometime during the new moon so we can really experience star-gazing on Mauna Kea.

Word drop = 2

Tomorrow… on to Oahu!

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