Saturday, 17 October 2009

Dawn at 14,000 feet

It's usually around this time that we're starting our journey down from the summit of Mauna Kea after a long night observing; freezing our butts off waiting for the car's engine to warm up enough to provide a little heat into the cabin. We've typically been working for 14 or 15 hours by this stage in a physically unpleasant environment, are very tired and the last thing on my mind, usually, is taking nice sunrise pictures!

This morning was a little different though and for a change took a few snapshots at dawn. Of course one main differences about watching a sunrise from the summit is that the sun rises above the clouds rather than the ocean or land, but sunset is similar except that obviously the sun isn't rising!

On Mauna Kea, though, I think the main differences are the colours, and that's probably just due to my usual spot on the mountain where I'm looking west most of the time to see the other interesting things. At sunrise, these are the places that receive that fascinating colour of light you only see at sunrise or sunset. Since Mauna Kea is a predominantly reddish/brown colour, the yellow/red light from the sun low in the sky emphasises those colours.

Above, the Subaru observatory (left) and Keck 1 are in the shadow of the mountain. You've seen pictures of mine showing this shadow, but almost exclusively at sunset when the shadow is in the east. This time it was in the west and situated perfectly behind these two telescopes!

As the sun rose a little higher, the shadow grew smaller but that just meant the edge happened to fall right across the telescopes on the western ridge. The colours this created around Keck 2 (left) and the NASA IRTF were incredible! You can even see the shadow of the IRTF on the Keck dome.

I've a few more photos to show from early this morning, but they'll have to wait for a bit. I've got used to processing shots taken at sunset but the unusual experience of taking photos at dawn on the mountain means I've not quite got one or two things right, so will have to spend a little more time on them than usual. Here's a quick preview though!

1 comment:

Keera Ann Fox said...

I like the final results of your sunrises that you posted - the ones filled with gold. They didn't look unnatural, either, so I'd say you found the right mix.