Maura Kea

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June 12th 2017
Published: June 12th 2017
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Spent last night on Mauna Kes and did not get home until midnight. We are off for a boat trip today on the smaller El Jobean. A friend of Jeanne's rented a house further south on the beach and is having a BBQ. Thought I would get this written before I have to pack up my stuff for the trip. Should be on the water a couple hours before we get there. Have never been on an open boat for that long a period, so need to pack well - hat, long sleeved rash guard, book, water, snacks, etc. Whoops, almost forgot the most important thing, tons of sunscreen. Right now I can see how bright it is down the mountain by the ocean. It is only 6:10 and the sun is shining down there. Should be a beautiful, if hot day. But then again, every day is a beautiful day here on the Big Island, no matter what the weather. So... back to yesterday. The last time I was here I signed up for a tour of Sunset on Mauna Kea. I was totally awestruck by the beauty and magnitude of the starry night. Since Maura Kea is home to 13 international and Hawaiian University telescopes and is so tall, all the light pollution is far, far away. Sunset is beautiful it's only the clear blue sky above the cloud line, it is like being in a whole different world. Unlike the last time, which occurred during February, this time we could see the Kohala coast on the northwest side of the island and Maui's mountain all the way to twilight. So many different telescopes for so many different purposes, all gleaming white or silver on at the summit over 13,000 feet into the heavens. We had a really great driver who knew a myriad of facts about how the Hawaiians got here and where they had been before they settled here as well as a great amount of know about the sky. We left the summit right as the last afterglow left the sky and headed down a couple thousand feet before the two drivers set up telescopes and showed us cluster galaxies, nebula, Jupiter and Saturn. These were portable $5k telescopes, not like the ones ordinary people would set up in their backyards. No fiddling around with sights and trying to figure out exactly where to point it, they just punched in coordinates and like the big observatories, they started to move. Jupiter and Saturn were amazing. Although the big red spot on Jupiter was on the back side, you could clearly see the four dots that were Io, Europa, Ganyem and Callisto. They looked like little black dots on a white circle, but hey, we saw something 7 light minutes away. Then we really lucked out. Saturn was in ot's elliptical shape and you could clearly see the rings and Titan. Now have to admit it looked more like a black and white photo than those gorgeous colored shots that NASA sends out, but really, to get to see the rings of an actual planet 8 light minutes away. In case you were wondering,within the galaxy things are measured in light minutes, while outside it is measured in light years. I love trivia. We looked at the signs of the zodiac around the sky and for those who like stuff like this, the tail of the scorpion is also Maui's fishhook. All navigators used the same stars, each culture just had their own name. Aurthur our guide said that the Disney movie Mauna was actually accurate on the navigating issues. South Pacific navigators could tell of current changes by the water temperature, could see currents far ahead of them and knew where land was by cloud formations. All navgats used the nort star but the suit seas,sailors had to sal long distances before they could even see it. Also learned that the Polynesians sailed more areas of the Pacific than others knew. Quick fact. when I I was in in school we read Kon Tiki, which seemed to prove that the Hawaiians and other South Pacific tribes originally sailed from Peru. Now it has been proven that they began in around the areas of New Zealand and other islands, sailed to Peru and ended up in Hawaii, a small group of islands in the middle of the deep, blue Pacific. A couple of strange proven facts: only in Hawaii and Peru do you find sweet potatoes. No other Pacific Island has them. Polynesians were known to carry chickens with them on their 5 month or more travels. Chicken bones found in Santa Barbara, CA have been carbon dated back thousands of years and have Southeast Asian chicken DNA. There is a Native American tribe in CA that has canoes similar to those in HI, and there is only one tribe. Around 7:30 they gave us Ghardelli hot chocolate and almond biscotti to warm us up before the planet viewings. We headed down the volcano around 8:30. Took us almost 45 minutes to get back to the 9000 ft visitor Center and the temperature had risen significantly. i was glad I wore my long johns under my jeans, it was really cold up top. Took off heavy park at the rest stop and by the time we got back to Kailua-Kona wished I could have stripped off more. Went from 80's to Low 40's back to upper 70's in less than 10 hours. Well, need to get ready, got a lot of sunscreen to put on. Aloha!


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