Journey to the top of the Earth

One evening in Hawaii, we decided to journey up to the top of Mauna Kea, the highest point in Hawaii.  Standing at the top nearly 14,000 feet in elevation above sea level and above 40% of the Earth’s atmosphere, left me short of breath but not short on views.  The vista from the top looking over the persistent cloud deck made for a storybook sunset.  And the lack of atmosphere above coupled with the remoteness of the location (2,400 miles from the U.S. mainland) revealed stars that would make even countryfolk blush.

Mauna Kea, in addition to being the most important spiritual place for native Hawaiians (in ancient law, only kahunas were allowed to visit the peak), is also home to 13 deep-space telescopes from highly-acclaimed research institutions around the country, including the University of Hawaii. While I did not have my tripod with me at the summit, I was able to capture a few decent shots just before the sun went down.  This image of the Canada-France-Hawaii (left) and the Gemini North (right) observatories is my favorite.