Mauna Kea

Went to Lulu's for breakfast, watched some college football, then set out for the beach along the shoreline by the Kona pier to go snorkeling. The colors on the floor of the ocean are so amazing, the different shapes of the many fish, you just don't get tired of looking at everything. I got chilled before I finished looking at the fish and needed to get warm, Jeff has more endurance and stayed out longer. After lunch at Lulu's we got ready to catch a shuttle to the see the observatories on Mauna Kea. Mauna Kea means 'White Mountain' in Hawai'ian and is almost 14,000 feet above sea level and 33,000 feet from her base at the bottom of the ocean to her apex. The shuttle took us up, up and up. We stopped at the visitor's center and were given parkas, gloves and a warm take-out dinner, which was actually pretty tasty. After everyone had eaten we loaded back into the shuttle and headed for the top of Mauna Kea to watch a sunset we will never forget! There are 13 observatories located on Mauna Kea because it provides the best location on earth for them. The elevation, climate, wind conditions, etc. are unmatched anywhere else.

9,000 Foot Panarama 12,000 Feet Up 12,000 Foot Panarama Cold Joyce Obervatories Panarama Observatories Observatory Map Caltech Submillimeter Subaru Keck Tourists Awaiting the Sunset Sunset Sunset Sunset


After the sun sank beneath the clouds that formed a blanket a couple thousand feet below us, the sky above it displayed a magnificent display of color. Red, purple, orange, yellow. Due to the thin air Joyce lost her peripheral vision but could still only stand in awe of what she was seeing.

We were parked on a platform next to a couple of the observatories and a short distance away was the actual apex of Mauna Loa. Jeff decided to climb up to the top. There is a memorial there for two soldiers from Hawai'i who lost their lives in Iraq. Due to the altitude, there's not a lot of oxygen in this thin atmosphere and even though Jeff took it slow and easy, he had to stop a couple of times to rest on his way up when his heart started pounding like a big bass drum. At the top of the apex, Jeff stood on the tallest mountain in the world, at about 33,000 feet.

Actual Summit Jeff on Summit Sunset From Summit

The sunset lasted about 12 minutes and then the moon rose in the East; an amazingly full moon. The tour guides took us a short distance down the mountain and set up a couple of telescopes where we looked at a few stars, panets, nebulas, etc., and fianlly the moon.