Thursday, 7 October 2010

You know where...

It seems like months since I was last on the summit for a night of observing but I was back up there yesterday. I didn't take my camera though because I was supporting some visiting observers and knew I'd be busy at sunset. Instead, these are some pictures I took a month or so ago while acting as tour guide for some locals and Pam who wanted to visit Mauna Kea.

I think the trip went well and I met a bunch of really nice people who I hope will visit again the next time I can offer a tour. Unfortunately I can't do this kind of thing too often because it's quite a big deal (it's a day out of my rather busy life these days, I have to arrange things with both the summit and sea level staff and make sure everyone on the tour understands all the arrangements and the dangers of altitude).

The trip was worth it. The sunset was stunning so I'm glad my new friends got to see a spectacular Mauna Kea sunset as well as visiting a very special place and seeing the insides of our two telescopes (JCMT and UKIRT). Pam has been up there before but don't think she saw such a nice sunset before!

Because I was acting as tour guide and watching out for everyone I have to admit my picture-taking wasn't quite up to my own standards, but still managed to take a couple of nice shots of sunset. Above is the Keck 2 dome while the sun was still above the horizon giving the clouds a strange orangy-red colour. The sunset is reflected on the Keck's dome.

To the south the Hualalai volcano was poking above the low-level clouds as usual. It's amazing what a different perspective altitude gives you because we drove past this volcano just a day later and you wouldn't know it was there. Above the clouds it's very prominent.

Finally, after the sun had set and all my new friends had said "awesome" (I'm pretty sure they all said that one time or another!) it was time for one last photo - Subaru and clouds. We went back into the warm to interrogate the observers (they were warned!) and then it was back down to sea level.

I hope everyone enjoyed the trip and fortunately they also saw one of the better sunsets the mountain has to offer. I also made new friends so this was definitely a good day.

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