We took a tour with Mauna Kea Summit Adventures up to the top of Mauna Kea to see the sun set above the clouds and to look through their telescopes at various star clusters. It was a great tour, with the tour guide providing lots of information about the island all the way up to the visitor center. Then we had supper at the visitor center, partly to spend some time there to acclimatize to the height (around 9,000 feet). Then it was on to the summit of Mauna Kea, at over 13,000 feet - the highest point in Hawaii. We were above the clouds and it was a beautiful night - no snow, which often they have here - at around 0 degrees C (freezing) and not much wind. We had heavy parkas and gloves to keep us warm, which even on a nice night were much appreciated. We saw one of the observatories open up and turn to face the part of the sky they wanted to study that night. In the picture of us, you can see Mauna Loa on the far right in the background. We also could see the shadow of Mauna Kea on the top
of the clouds. And the sunset over the tops of the clouds was really quite beautiful.
Then it was back down to the level of the visitor centre, to a spot where the guides set up their telescopes. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable about the stars and the observatories. Their telescopes were GPS computer guided 11 inch, giving a really close up view of various star clusters, the rings of Saturn, and the surface of the moon. They provided hot drinks and cookies up there too. The drive back was long, but we were able to snooze on the way. All in all, a great day!
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