Friday, 4 December 2009

The night shift

A moonlit panorama of Mauna Kea's summit area taken at 3:20 in the morning believe it or not. This is always the worst part of the night. The body and brain want to sleep so badly and often I'll step outside into the freezing night-time temperatures just to wake myself up. When the sky is clear and there's no moon the sky can be dramatic, you hardly need to get dark adapted to see the Milky Way and a sky full of stars. On the other hand when the moon is up the night sky can look quite dull but then you get to see the rest of the mountain and the observatories at work. When the wind is calm it's very quiet except for the occasional distant hum of a telescope slewing. This is always the time and view that reminds me of how remote we are as an island and also as a planet.

From left to right: the Hualalai volcano and then Pu`u Poli`ahu which legend has it is the home of the snow goddess of Mauna Kea. In the shadow of Poli`ahu are the CSO, JCMT and the SMA. On the ridge the Subaru and twin Kecks are visible with Maui's Haleakala in the far distance.


Zuzana said...

I can not believe this is taken so early in the morning. It looks like during the day.
I just can not keep awake at that hour, I could not ever work night shifts.;)

Keera Ann Fox said...

Tom, did you just moon us? ;-)

Ah, that full moon. What delights the rest of us, bothers an astronomer. :-)

Tom said...

Protege - you just get used to it over time. Even when I'm not on the mountain I tend to get called at all hours of the night and it all just blends into one long shift after a while!

Keera - I simply haven't the energy to respond with anything wittier than your comment! Thank you for the laugh!


soaring soul said...

I don't understand?
Is this Hawaii?
It seems more like Alaska because it is so light and so late in the night.
It is soo beautiful I can't even wrap myself around it. wow.

Tom said...

Hello Soul and thanks for popping by! It's definitely Hawaii but the moon was very bright that night and the exposure times were long, so the picture looks as though it was taken in daytime.

Thanks you so much for the compliment!