John Harvey Photo

Telescopes on Mauna Kea

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This is Hawaii?

Flowering Fields

The telescopes on Mauna Kea are world renown research facilities with a no equal on the planet.  On Saturdays and Sundays they offer free guided tours by university staff - all you have to do is get there!  Driving from Kona, we headed up and inland, out of the palm trees and tropical weather that characterize Hawaii and into lush farm fields and cattle herds.  We turned onto Saddle road (no, the rental vehicle wasn't allowed on the road) and headed inland.

Ford Expedition on Saddle Road

We arrived at the base station before 1pm, had lunch and toured the store.  At 1pm, we were introduced to the guide and watched an hour long video about the mountain and the history of the telescopes - all the while our bodies were getting used to the high elevation.  At 2pm we got back in our truck and started the long haul up the mountain.

Driving up Mauna KeaEntering the Moonscape

The landscape changes perceptibly as we rose higher - plant life got sparser and the geology started to resemble the moon.  Just when the landscape can't get any weirder, domes start popping up like mushrooms.  We drove up to the highest part of the road and parked.  Our tour guide gave us some background information on the area and Hawaii 48 inch telescope we were about to tour.

Approaching Top Of Mauna KeaTrail to the Top of Mauna Kea

From the Summit, there were a interesting views.  Beyond the sea of clouds we were standing on top of,  we could see a radio telescope off one direction, and a series of cinder cones further down the mountain.

Radio Telescope in a Sea of CloudsCinder Cones On Mauna Kea

At the top of the mountain is an Alter (called lele ho'okau).  The alter and everything on it is brought up from further down the valley.

Alter on Top Of Mauna KeaOfferings on Top of Mauna Kea

Pictures taken, we walked back to the telescopes.

Us on Top of Mauna KeaWalking Back to the Telescopes

We still had some time before sunset so we went for a walk around the Keck Telescopes.  At first I thought of photographing from around the Keck Telescopes looking back toward the Hawaii - France - Canada telescope.  As the sun set, I noticed all the tour vans parking at on the ridge behind us so we decided to move to the same location.

Mike and Val in Front of KeckMike and Val in Front of Subaru Telescope

This part made me happy.  We waited for about an hour until the sun started to set and then I started taking pictures.  It was getting cold and windy, but sunset was spectacular and I was glad I was up there.  There are tour companies in Hilo that offer a van tour to see this for about $80 US a person or $145 for a trip with a warm jacket and hot chocolate.

Subaru Telescope at SunsetSubaru Telescope at Sunset

Domes At SunsetSilhouette of Subaru and Keck TelescopesUnited Kingdom Infrared Telescope Turning

They asked that we leave the summit at most 15 minuets after sunset (something about car lights shining in telescopes).  We drove down to the visitor center and they had several large amateur telescopes out and fairly sizable (30 people) crowd patiently queuing to see through the eye piece.  There was an amazing view of the moon, a telescope on Saturn and another on Jupiter.   An hour later, heads full of stars, we drove home.

I found an nice collection of Aerial Photos of the Mauna Kea Observatories.
Mauna Kea Telescopes | Hawaii Volcanoes | City of Refuge| Resort | Snorkeling | Whale Watching

Walking Back to the Telescopes
Tags: hiking, telescope, trail
Cinder Cones On Mauna Kea
Tags: Hawaii, summit, volcanism
Trail to the Top of Mauna Kea
Tags: mountain, sign, snow, trail
Mike and Val in Front of Subaru Telescope
Person: Michael
Tags: telescope
Alter on Top Of Mauna Kea
Location: Go To...
Tags: Hawaii, place of worship, summit
Mike and Val in Front of Keck
Person: Michael
Tags: telescope
Entering the Moonscape
Tags: Hawaii, summit
Subaru Telescope at Sunset
Tags: telescope
Radio Telescope in a Sea of Clouds
Tags: cloud, Hawaii, summit, telescope
Domes At Sunset
Tags: telescope
Approaching Top Of Mauna Kea
Tags: Hawaii, telescope
United Kingdom Infrared Telescope Turning
Tags: telescope
Ford Expedition on Saddle Road
Tags: field, Hawaii, road
Us on Top of Mauna Kea
Person: Michael, John, Mark
Subaru Telescope at Sunset
Tags: sunset, telescope
Flowering Fields
Tags: field, flower
Driving up Mauna Kea
Tags: driving, Hawaii, road, vista
Silhouette of Subaru and Keck Telescopes
Tags: silhouette, sunset, telescope
Offerings on Top of Mauna Kea
Tags: Hawaii, place of worship, summit
Tags: telescope(10), Hawaii(8), summit(5), road(2), sunset(2), place of worship(2)
People: Michael(3), John(1), Mark(1)
From: John Harvey Photo > Trips out of the Country > The Big Island of Hawaii > Telescopes on Mauna Kea
From: John Harvey Photo > Blogs for 2023 to 2005 > Maui > The Big Island of Hawaii > Telescopes on Mauna Kea
From: John Harvey Photo > Trips out of the Country > Maui > The Big Island of Hawaii > Telescopes on Mauna Kea

Very interesting photos and comment. Thanks to the person who compiled this....John Harvey? Aloha, Hildi Vieira
Hildi Vieira
Wednesday, August 15th, 2007 at 10:42:05

hay that was a good and cool pictures of mauna kea. but what was the name of the telescope on mauna kea thanks
Tuesday, March 10th, 2009 at 14:23:00

aloha, I am doing a project for the telescope on the top of Mauna Kea, would like to know if I can get some information about these things please email me back.
What is a primary mirror?
what is a secondary mirror?
difference between aluminum and silver coated mirrors
why not lenses?
Wavelength telescope?
Mounting types, equatorial mount--explain, and list which telesopes

Please let me know, I would really appreciated if you could get back at me.
Thank you,

Lagafuaina Matai
Sunday, October 4th, 2009 at 23:51:38

Lagafuaina: You should read the wikipedia article about optical telescopes - it answers most of your questions.

They don't mention silver vs aluminum. Silver tarnishes to a black, non-reflective state when exposed to air. If you silver the back of the mirror, you don't get tarnish on the side attached to the glass, but the light has to travel though the glass, hit the silver, back through the glass and then on to the detector. All those transitions causes distortion, and you have to polish (very precisely) both sides of the mirror. Aluminum doesn't tarnish the same way as silver so you can apply it to the front of the mirror and the light doesn't have to make a trip through the mirror.

John Harvey
Saturday, October 17th, 2009 at 23:49:40

Thank you very much for getting back at me. I have done what you say to do, I didn't know it was all there (wikipedia) the funny thing is my teacher banned the wikipedia. Thank you again. Mahalo
Lagafuaina Matai
Friday, October 30th, 2009 at 14:40:31

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