Monday, 26 October 2009

It looks just like Mars

Whenever I take people to visit the summit of Mauna Kea who have never visited before, there are two general comments they make. The first is that "boy, this looks just like those pictures taken on Mars" and at the summit itself "I feel as though I'm on another planet".

I've shown so many pictures from the summit that I hope people can see it looks rather different to most people's experiences, hence the latter comment. In the middle of nowhere, at 14,000 feet and above the clouds with a plethora of weird and wonderful looking astronomical observatories the place does look like no other on this planet. Over the years, though, I've become used to the scene and although I still find the summit a very special place and have certainly not become bored of the view, I find it harder and harder to see it the same way a first-time visitor might.

On the other hand, one place I rarely stop to take pictures, along with the tourists and visitors, is around the 11,000 to 12,000 foot level. You don't really know at this point how high you are because the mountain is so large it dominates everything and you can't see the horizon. It's also around this point, though, the visitors with a little knowledge of astronomy and our solar system tend to say that this place looks just like Mars, and it does!

The same red coloured rocks with a volcanic panorama really reminds one of those pictures taken by the Mars Rovers and previous NASA missions. If it wasn't for the blue sky and the odd clump of vegetation you could really let your imagination fly and believe you're on another planet.

No comments: