Tuesday, January 21, 2020

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Gallery: Hawaii 2019 - North Coast

Gallery (10 images): Hawaii 2019 - North Coast

The above image doesn't really match the title of today's posting, but then I was fascinated by this view of the observatories on Mauna Kea for several reasons. More on that in a moment...

On this day, the weather was not very good with overcast skies and drizzle for part of the day. We first drove up to the north coast of the Big Island, to take in the views past Hawi, where the road ends and there is a trail going down to Pololu Beach. Since the weather wasn't great and I didn't want to leave my dad in the car for an extended period, I didn't hike down the steep trail at all. I only took a few shots from the road. After, we drove back to Kailua-Kona via the inland road, which leads through Waimea and then heads south along the western flank of Mauna Kea, past the Saddle Road.

Just south of Waimea, I was struck by the surprisingly clear view of the Mauna Kea observatories, and the fact that they didn't seem all that much higher than where I took the photo from, even though I knew them to be about 13,600 feet up, give or take! According to my GPS, and confirmed afterwards, the altitude at which I took this photo at was only about 2,600 feet, so that means those observatories were 11,000 feet higher than where I stood for the photos! That blew my mind since at the most, it visually seemed like they were only maybe a 3,000 or 4,000 feet higher than where I stood. The telephoto lens I used certainly magnified that impression too.

The peak of the small volcanic cinder cone (probably more of a splatter cone) that you see in the foreground, called Holoholoku, is at 3,265 feet, or only 665 feet higher than where I stood. However, that peak is a mere 4.8 km away whereas the observatories were 29 km distant. So perspective and telephoto compression really serve to give quite an illusion here, at least to my eyes! Maybe you'll see it differently?

For fun, I tried to figure out which observatories one is seeing and after studying a map of the Mauna Kea observatories and judging by the angle I was shooting from, I came up with the following: from left to right we have...

Canada-France-Hawaii Observatory
Gemini Observatory
University of Hawaii 2.2 Meter Telescope (the one with the dome protrusion)
The twin Keck Observatory domes
Subaru Telescope

Since even back in 2008, my dad did not feel well at the high altitude of Mauna Kea's summit and we had to cut our visit there short, this year we decided not to drive up at all. One day, I want to return there and photograph all the observatories up close...

Link to: All the blog posts from my 2019 Hawaii Trip


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