University Lowbrow Astronomers

The University Lowbrow Astronomers Photo Album

Mauna Kea (Part 4)
by Dr. Mark Vincent
(June 2003)

This page shows photographs from Mauna Kea. Mauna Kea is located in Hawaii, and contains a number of world class telescopes. They include the two Keck telescopes, the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF), the Subaru telescope and the Gemini telescope (among others).

IRTF Observing Run (forth trip to Hawaii and hopefully still counting...)

Images available at http://atmos.NMSU.Edu/pub/mvincent/Hawaii2003/

After the observing run, it was time for some sight seeing, mostly around the Hilo area and Volcanoes. With 100-400 inches of rain a year, there is a good chance you and your camera will be WET when viewing the many wonderful waterfalls. I did see a very faint rainbow at Rainbow Falls, but not in this image. Akaka Falls is quite tall - I guess the sign painters wanted to remind you that the falls go down.

Rainbow Falls

Akaka Falls

On the drive down Chain of Craters Road, I stopped by Pauahi Crater. The late-evening sun combined with a light mist made for a beautiful rainbow. The Crater road was shorter than it was when I was there last August - new Pele pavement. Kilauea’s lava was not flowing at the end of the 45 minute hiking trail marked by the Volcanoes National Park rangers. So, I stayed near the end of the road. There, I got another case of heartburn. Found that a flashlight is useful in illuminating old lava and palm trees at night. The firefalls several miles away don’t need a flashlight, they provide their own illumination. Through binoculars, I watched several large trees being consumed by Pele as part of her midnight snack. A glow would brighten enough to view the trunk of a tree. Then an increasing amount of smoke and steam would obscure the trunk. When it cleared - no tree.

Pauahi Rainbow

April Lava

Heartburn Again

Pele Gets Trees

Palms Lava

I’m typing this last part at the beginning of an observing run that I learned about this morning (Tuesday, May 27th). Alan Tokunaga, IRTF director, would like the Galileo Support data calibrated and is providing us two half nights of engineering time now, and 3 more in early August. Tonight’s observing run is real easy for me, type up some macros, pass them along to Bill Golisch (tonight’s telescope operator), make a quick phone call to clarify things, then go home. Bill will take care of the rest. Tomorrow, I will come in, look at the data, and modify the macros as necessary for tomorrow’s run (clouded out). As for the August observations, well we’ve proven that we can do remote observing, so we just eliminated the reason for going out there:-(

-Mark B. Vincent

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