|Sunset from Mauna Kea high above the clouds|
On our trip to Hawaii in 2009, a friend suggested we visit the Mauna Kea Observatories, located at 13,796 feet on top of an inactive volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii. Due to the low humidity, clear skies and lack of city lights, Mauna Kea is one of the finest observatory sites on the planet.
We left Kona about three hours before sunset. Our first stop was the Visitor Information Center at 9,200 feet. Because it only takes a few hours to go from sea level to almost 14,000 feet, it's important to stop here and acclimate for 30 minutes or so.
It was a spectacular experience. Through the telescopes we were able to clearly see Saturn and its rings, Mars, the complete Southern Cross, and the Great Andromeda Galaxy. The guides used laser pointers to draw out the constellations - and the boys got quite a lesson in zodiac signs.
|Credit: Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station|