Monday, 18 May 2009

Hoping for a green flash

Yet more sunset shots from the summit; these were taken last Wednesday and Thursday. On the first night I was really hoping to see the green flash. It's an optical phenomenon that usually requires a clear horizon and although there were clouds the horizon was well defined (it's extremely rare not to have clouds stretching to the western horizon). As usual, I didn't see the green flash and I have yet to see one from the summit despite eighteen years of trying. I know several people who have seen one on their first trip to the summit. It's frustrating but I have seen the effect elsewhere (in the Australian outback of all places). The picture above shows the Subaru telescope and the sun just as it set. The camera was set to take continuous pictures but none of them showed anything green. Oh well, back to the drawing board. In the meantime, here are a few more sunset shots. I can't say by popular request but I like them!

Subaru and one of the twin Kecks on Thursday night. There were a few more high-level clouds around which usually makes the sunset more colourful although it also means we're in for a poor night of observing.

The IRTF to the right and one of the Kecks with Maui's Haleakala in the distance - a 10,000-foot dormant volcano. The sun had set by now and the cirrus clouds were very red.

The JCMT (lower-right) with the summit of the Hualalai volcano peeking through the low-level cumulus clouds in the distance.

OK, this one's a little overdone, it's an HDR image of Mauna Loa from the summit taken last Wednesday, but it does show how bad the vog was. It's very rare for vog to reach summit level but it was pretty obvious on the drive up and you can see the layers of the volcanic crud all the way up to Mauna Loa's summit. That mountain is almost the same height as Mauna Kea so the nasty stuff was way up in the atmosphere. I'll go back and work on this one when I have some time.

I'm back on the summit this weekend although I'm not sure if I'll have time for photos. I'm short of sunrise photos but to be honest, after a 15 to 16-hour work day and the circadian rhythm stressed to breaking point, I'm rarely in the right frame of mind at that time of day. It'll happen soon though...


Keera Ann Fox said...

Oh, I love the sky in photo #2!

Andrew Cooper said...

Got a nice green flash last night. I stopped on the Mamalahoa between Waimea and Waikoloa on the way home to watch the sunset.

I thought conditions might be favorable and was rewarded by a nice one. I also thought it was clear to the water when I stopped, but there was a distant cloud deck revealed as the Sun set. These clouds were very far away and well defined, good enough, the conditions worked.

I will be up for an evening engineering run next week, time for more photography?

Tom said...

Keera - the sky did look quite unusual on Thursday night (picture #2). It looked fantastic at dawn 12 hours earlier but I was so tired I didn't take any pictures. It would have delayed my colleague as well, and we both just wanted to get back to HP and sleep!

Andrew - I'm envious! I just don't seem to have any luck with the green flash on Mauna Kea. I hope you get the chance to take a few photos next week, I'm up this weekend but doubt I'll have time for any photography, it's going to be a busy run.