Anyone visited the observatory atop Mauna Kea?

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Anyone visited the observatory atop Mauna Kea?

Postby joe-khalaf » Sun Mar 15, 2015 9:15 pm

My family and I are headed to the Big Island of Hawaii this summer and I'd like to visit the observatories atop Mauna Kea. Anyone been before? If so, what advice can you give? Is a guided tour the best bet? I've heard rental car companies frown upon people taking the rentals up to the peak.

Thanks in advance...

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Re: Anyone visited the observatory atop Mauna Kea?

Postby steve-fung » Sun Mar 15, 2015 10:29 pm

This is my dream too. I had three occasions to go to Hawaii for conference, including this summer, but alas I cannot go because of schedule conflicts, so one of my colleagues gets to go in my place instead. I had planned on booking a flight from Oahu to the Big Island to enjoy the scenery at Mauna Kea and even bring one of my grab-and-go telescopes. Enjoy your trip!
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Re: Anyone visited the observatory atop Mauna Kea?

Postby steve-fung » Mon Mar 16, 2015 7:52 pm

You got me really interested, so I started to look up some info. Looks like the recommendation is to go to the visitor center at 9,200 ft and check with weather and road conditions. Let the Mauna Kea Rangers know if you're planning to go to the summit. Summit is at 14,000 ft, so altitude sickness is a possibility if you ascend rapidly without acclimatization, child, or in poor health. Acclimatization takes about one day at 9,000 ft. You can also take acetazolamide (Diamox). Avoid alcohol and strenuous exercise for 48 hours. Observatories seem to be for researchers only unless you know someone. Recommended visiting hours for the summit are 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset, although there are nightly star parties at the visitor center, which is probably more fun. Yeah, you're right - you'll need a 4-wheel drive vehicle for the gravel road, and some rental companies have contract clauses that don't let you drive up even if it's 4-wheel drive. Towing is at your expense.

http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/info/vis/visi ... ummit.html

Still, sounds like lots of fun! I wish I was there in 1991 to see the solar eclipse. Well - there's the Grand Teton NP in 2017...


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Re: Anyone visited the observatory atop Mauna Kea?

Postby clayton-bownds » Tue Mar 17, 2015 2:30 pm

I've never been there... but I have been to the summit of Haleakala on Maui three times in the last four years (touristing sunrise above the clouds, not for astronomy). I would love to visit the observatory there or the one at Mauna Kea, so I hope you bring back great stories and memories to share with us. :)

Have fun!!
/c
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