I'm sure most of you are aware of Sod's or Murphy's Law which states that if anything can go wrong it will. Some of you may not be aware of its corollaries, two of which are similar and I'm not sure which to pick:
a) The first corollary to Murphy's law: Anything that is to go wrong will do so at the worst possible moment.
b) The unspeakable law: As soon as you mention something, if it's good it goes away, if it's bad it happens.
Well, I can certainly blame Andy the e-Astronomer who, in his recent post "Emmets at Sunset" wrote "UKIRT was always ground breaking and world leading, but now it is a kind of flawless machine as well." Literally hours after he had posted this we broke UKIRT, and at the worst possible moment. High winds meant we had to close the dome at around 3:30am last night but it wouldn't close. After many attempts and a lot of swearing we managed to get it closed and safe but at the expensive of pulley cable and a nasty feeling we might have done further damage.
Today the engineers went up to fix the problem but since it involved opening the dome to test their work and the fact that winds were gusting over 50 mph, they were unable to complete the fix and so we are closed tonight and I get to stay in my favourite place in the world for the night - Hale Pohaku (HP) at the 9,000 foot level of Mauna Kea. (Yes, I'm being very sarcastic).
So Andy, you owe me a beer!
Not having the opportunity for more photos at the summit this evening, I took a short hike east of HP to a place I hadn't visited before. It's a small rise a few hundred yards from HP and I wanted to see if the views were any good. Turns out they're certainly interesting if not as spectacular as higher up. I have plenty of shots to process but here are a few quick ones (and you can click on them for larger views):
A lava bomb. These are formed in volcanic eruptions when a blob of molten lava is expelled from the crater high into the air and cools rapidly as it falls to the ground where it lands in a very hot but fairly solid state. You don't want to be underneath one of these! The area east of HP is strewn with them and it makes walking difficult - no admiring the view while moving!
The wonderful Vacation Resort Hale Pohaku from an angle I rarely see (and you can see I'm standing in a field of lava bombs). Oops, I think I left the window open in my room...
A little later looking to the east and Hilo, which is hidden behind the slope. The sky is becoming dark as the sun sets and the shadow of the earth is plainly visible above a distant cinder cone.
The summit of Mauna Loa with vog in the valley.
I have no idea what this building and surrounding fencing is, I have never seen it before! It's just to the west of the Visitor Information Center and out of site from there I believe - I certainly didn't know it was there. An electrical substation?